The company has told Wall Street that it has tightened its belt in the past and can do so again. Last week, Amazon executives met with institutional investors, according to three people, just as its stock sank to its lowest level since the early days of the pandemic, erasing $1 trillion in value since Andy Jassy took over as chief executive last year.
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Mr. Jassy, who previously ran Amazon’s lucrative cloud computing business, has been closely scrutinizing businesses to trim costs quickly. He initially pulled back on a warehouse expansion that was supercharged during the pandemic, then moved to other parts of the company.
In recent months, Amazon has also closed or pared back a smattering of initiatives, including Amazon Care, its service providing primary and urgent health care that failed to find enough customers; Scout, the cooler-size home delivery robot, that employed 400 people, according to Bloomberg; and Fabric.com, a subsidiary that sold sewing supplies for three decades.
From April through September, it reduced head count by almost 80,000 people, primarily shrinking its hourly staff through high attrition.
Amazon froze hiring in several smaller teams in September. In October, it stopped filling more than 10,000 open roles in its core retail business. Two weeks ago, it froze corporate hiring across the company, including its cloud computing division, for the next few months.
That news came so suddenly that recruiters did not receive talking points for job candidates until almost a week later, according to a copy of the talking points seen by The New York Times.
Devices and Alexa have long been seen internally as at risk for cuts. Alexa and related devices rocketed to a top company priority as Amazon raced to create the leading voice assistant, which leaders thought could succeed mobile phones as the next essential consumer interface. From 2017 to 2018, Amazon doubled staff on Alexa and Echo devices to 10,000 engineers. At one point, any engineer getting a job offer for other Amazon roles was supposed to also get an offer from Alexa.