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Toni Reid
Most Creative People 2017

Toni Reid

Vice President, Echo Devices and Alexa, Amazon

For leading the voice-controlled revolution

Rohit Prasad and Toni Reid have turned Alexa, the always-listening virtual assistant that’s built in to Amazon’s Echo devices, into a category-defining consumer experience. Now, to stay ahead of competing technologies at Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, they are finding clever ways to make Alexa both smarter and ubiquitous. In early 2017, they helped bring Alexa’s voice-powered technology to the iPhone and Ford vehicles. They rolled out cheaper alternatives to the $180 Echo—the $130 Tap and the $50 Echo Dot—and expanded into the U.K. and Germany. They also enabled developers’ creativity, building a platform that has inspired programmers to create more than 10,000 voice-controlled “skills,” such as getting WebMD health insights, Capital One balance info, and language translation. “When we launched, Alexa only had 13 skills,” Reid says. Key to their success, they say, is giving their teams room to dream—“[We do] not get mired down in, How can this be done?” Reid says—and the discipline to kill or delay rolling out features that aren’t ready for market. “There’s a trust between us,” says Prasad, who develops the brains of Alexa while Reid focuses on its relationship to the customer, “over what the technology can and can’t do.”

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