GeekWire - Amazon employees poised to walk out

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More than 1,900 Amazon employees are planning to walk out of the company’s Seattle headquarters and other offices around the world today, protesting Amazon’s return-to-office mandate and expressing frustration with its progress on climate initiatives.

  • “This is about Amazon going in the wrong direction, and losing trust,” said the groups organizing the walkout, Amazon Employees for Climate Justice and Amazon Remote Advocacy.
  • "We’re always listening and will continue to do so, but we’re happy with how the first month of having more people back in the office has been,” an Amazon spokesperson said. 

Read more, and check back with GeekWire this afternoon for updates. 

After nearly 13 years at Amazon, one of the company’s key cloud executives has left abruptly, without explanation. Chris Vonderhaar, an AWS VP, was responsible for design, planning, construction, and operations of Amazon’s massive network of data centers. Read more.

Hybrid work models are hit for downtown Seattle employers, according to a new survey by the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. Among the findings: 62% of employers report employees coming into the office three or more days per week, and the most popular in-office days are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. Read more.

Skynet … Terminator … Dystopian … Amazing … Transformative. Reflecting a wide range of feelings about artificial intelligence, those were some of the responses to GeekWire’s “Bot or Not” survey question, “What’s the first word that comes to mind when you think of AI?” Read more here, including ChatGPT’s analysis of the larger survey results.

Two Microsoft vets are leading a secretive new Seattle startup using generative AI to help students learn. Eran Megiddo and Liviu Asnash, who spent 21 years at the tech giant, are the co-founders of Maximal Learning, which just raised a $5.7 million seed round. Read more.

A crew with Axiom Space returned to Earth in a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule after spending nine days on the International Space Station. The mission achieved several firsts for the space fliers on board, and one scientific experiment made use of human stem cells cultivated by Seattle’s Allen Institute for Cell Science. Read more.

Hot links:

  • Seattle startup leader Sarah Studer won a “Do What’s Right for Founders” award from her Techstars colleagues. She wrote: “I can attribute my ‘founder-first’ mentality to one of the very first things Isaac Kato taught me in this role: ‘If it's harder for us, but better for our founders, we do it anyway.’ ” (LinkedIn)

  • The robot umpires can’t come soon enough for some Mariners fans fed up with the ejections during last night’s game. (Twitter)

  • Amazon’s new $40 Echo Pop smart speaker doesn’t sound as good or listen as well as the $50 Echo Dot, but it “looks fun, cute, and kind of happy,” and considering the price, it’s worth considering for smaller rooms. (The Verge)

Thanks for subscribing to the GeekWire newsletter, and have a great week. —  GeekWire co-founder Todd Bishop,; GeekWire managing editor Taylor Soper,; and GeekWire reporter Kurt Schlosser,

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