Amazon’s Not-So-Secret R&D Lab Gets a Boost from Bezos


Amazon’s Silicon Valley research and development arm has been called “secretive” by Reuters and Bloomberg Businessweek. Others have called it “hush-hush” and “mysterious.”

While it may keep its projects close to the vest, as any corporate R&D unit worth its salt is entitled to, Lab126 is by no means secret. After all, it’s on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and has its own website.

In addition to developing the Amazon Fire phone and a host of other products, from the Kindle family of products to Amazon Fire TV to the Dash at-home ordering scanner, it’s reportedly eyeing wearable devices and products for the connected home.

It’s also, as Reuters reports, on a hiring spree to staff up its high-tech skunkworks by at least 27 percent over the next five years, in a drive by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to create Internet-of-things inspired home gadgets with a one-button device to order supplies.[more]

Lab126 is getting a $55 million cash infusion from Bezos, growing from 3,000 employees last year to at least 3,757 people by 2019. In return, the retail giant will receive $1.2 million in tax breaks from the state of California for boosting its operations in Sunnyvale and Cupertino.

Bezos, undaunted by a tepid market for the Amazon Fire phone, is shoring up his bets in online retail strategy as the e-commerce giant’s rivalry heats up with Google, which recently bought Nest Labs for $3.2 billion, along with Apple and Alibaba, all vying for a slice of the IoT pie now entering our daily lives full-on.

Reuters hears that Lab126’s developers, designers and engineers are exploring smarter, digital products, such as connected dishwashers, thermostats and other household devices that “talk” to one another or a device placed in the kitchen for instant ordering of staples such as detergent by pressing a button. 

The basics of wireless gadgets like garage-door openers versus embeddable household devices is already disrupting a still-nascent industry and investments and smart tech are lining up in the IoT landscape.

Interested in helping Amazon design the future? Check out Lab126’s careers page for openings.

• Follow us: @brandchannel on Twitter and brandchannel on Facebook. Connect with Sheila on Twitter: @srshayon