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Smart Home

Alexa exec Charlie Kindel leaves Amazon to spend more time with his smart home

Citing a desire to catch his breath, Kindel, who helped scale up Alexa for the mainstream, is leaving the internet giant after five years.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Charlie Kindel, a key Amazon executive who helped shape the rise of Alexa, is leaving the company after five years.

Kindel, who served as director of Alexa Smart Home for Amazon, helped to shape the voice assistant's growth in many ways. He presided over an aggressive, early push to win over the home automation industry that today seems especially prescient.

Kindel joined Amazon in April of 2013, telling GeekWire at the time that Amazon had "presented an opportunity to build something new that has ginormous potential. I simply couldn't pass the opportunity up."

Kindel announced his departure on his personal blog Monday morning, telling readers he simply wanted to take "a very serious break from 'work'."

"The pace of the past five years has finally gotten to me and I simply need to catch my breath," Kindel writes. "I have a car restoration project that is two years behind schedule. My home automation system needs a complete revamp (it's gotten a bit crusty since it was installed in 2001).

"I was originally just going to take a temporary leave, but I like the idea of having total freedom of thought to decide what's next in my life. By making a clean break from Amazon all options (including coming back to Amazon) are still on the table."  

Kindel adds that he is "absolutely not available to consult on or discuss things related to my role at Amazon."

His own smart home plans are fair game for discussion, however. Kindel says he plans to bring in a pro from CEDIA, the same home entertainment industry group he wooed during his time with Amazon, to help oversee the job. Kindel, who says his house already contains tech from the likes of Lutron and Crestron, tells me he might go with something different from a name like Savant or Control4.

"They both have solid Alexa skills," he notes.