In a surprise move, Microsoft’s longtime devices leader Panos Panay announced he is leaving the company after nearly two decades. And sources say he is headed to Amazon as its new head of Alexa and hardware products.
Panay on X tweeted that after 19 years, he has “decided to turn the page and write the next chapter” beyond Microsoft.
The timing coincides with rising pressures on Amazon’s smart home and voice assistant business, which has struggled against competitors like Google Assistant. Just this week, Amazon scheduled a product launch event for its Alexa and devices division.
Hiring Panay, who oversaw massive hits like the Surface tablet line during his Microsoft tenure, would be a major coup for Amazon as it looks to reinvigorate Alexa.
Under the leadership of outgoing senior vice president Dave Limp, Alexa has failed to keep pace with rivals in recent years despite an early lead in voice computing. Bringing in a proven product builder like Panay could inject fresh thinking.
Panay’s departure caps years of growing Microsoft’s devices business which now generates over $10 billion in annual revenue. But after nearly two decades in a grueling role, Panay is clearly ready for a new challenge resurrecting Alexa and Amazon’s smart home ecosystem.
If Amazon confirms Panay as Limp’s replacement at its event this week, it will send a clear signal of the company’s intent to double down on the voice assistant space while putting its hardware efforts in the hands of a proven leader.