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Amazon Video's former engineering head returns after just six months to join Alexa

  • Jim Freeman, the former VP of Amazon Video, returned to the company earlier this year, just six months after leaving for German retailer Zalando.
  • He is now part of the Alexa team, working on a new initiative.
  • Freeman's hiring shows Alexa is serious about video.
The new Amazon.com Inc. Echo Spot, from left, Echo, Echo Plus, and Fire TV devices sit on display during the company's product reveal launch event in downtown Seattle, Washington, U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017.
Daniel Berman | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The new Amazon.com Inc. Echo Spot, from left, Echo, Echo Plus, and Fire TV devices sit on display during the company's product reveal launch event in downtown Seattle, Washington, U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017.

Jim Freeman, the former engineering head of Amazon Video, returned to the company earlier this year, just six months after leaving for German online retailer Zalando.

Freeman came back to the company for family reasons and is currently part of the Alexa team, according to people familiar with the matter. Freeman's LinkedIn page says he rejoined Amazon in March 2017 to work on a "new initiative."

Freeman is now in charge of Alexa communications service, which covers video calling, calling and messaging features, a person familiar with the matter said.

Freeman, a longtime Amazon Video executive, mostly worked on the engineering side, although he was responsible for the entire video team before his sudden departure last year. Roy Price, former head of Amazon Studios, used to report to Freeman, as did Jay Marine, vice president of Prime Video Europe, The Information reported last year.

Freeman's addition to Alexa underscores Amazon's focus on incorporating video with its widely popular voice-assistant technology. This year Amazon has released two new video devices under the Echo line (Echo Show and Echo Look) and new services, such as Alexa for Business and Amazon Chime, which enable video conferencing through its Alexa voice assistant.

While it's unclear exactly what new initiative Freeman is working on, he's expanding his team. Freeman's LinkedIn page says he's hiring in Seattle, Chennai, Toronto, Gdansk, Ottawa, and Phoenix.