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AmazonGo technology exec jumps ship


As Amazon continues to ready its cashierless convenience store concept for the public, the company has lost one of the project’s technology leaders.

Bali Raghavan has left his position as director, just walk out technology, Amazon Go, to join real estate start-up as its VP of engineering. In his role at Amazon Go, Raghavan was responsible for “the foundational technologies that make Amazon Go’s ‘Just Walk Out’ shopping experience possible,” according to his LinkedIn profile.

Specifically, Raghavan spearheaded the computer vision, sensor fusion, artificial intelligence, machine learning and distributed systems that automatically detect when products are taken from or returned to the shelves, and keeps track of them in a customer’s virtual cart. As one of the first members of the Amazon Go team, he was also responsible for scaling technology and research teams into high-performance units with top tier engineers, managers and directors.

Raghavan most recently reported to Dilip Kumar, a former technical ad-viser to CEO Jeff Bezos. As a VP of Amazon Go, Kumar leads all technology efforts behind the store concept, according to ReCode.

Raghavan spent more than 12 years at Amazon. He joined the company in 2005 as senior software engineer, retail pricing, and was promoted to director, pricing intelligence for retail systems, in February 2008. He took on his role at Amazon Go in January 2013.

Amazon Go debuted in December, in Seattle, in a beta format open only to Amazon employees. (It was expected to open to the public in early 2017, but its opening has been delayed.) The 1,800-sq.-ft. store is powered by Amazon’s “just walkout technology," which allows it to be completely free of any type of checkout.

Shoppers click on the new Amazon Go app as they enter the store, and hold their smartphone to a scanner similar to an airport security line. Every time the customer picks up an item, it is automatically added to their virtual cart. (If the shopper puts the item back on the shelf, the item is automatically removed from the cart.) Once the customer leaves the store, their purchased is billed to their account.

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