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One of the Amazon execs leading its cashierless ‘store of the future’ has left the company

Bali Raghavan was a director of technology for Amazon Go.

Outside the Amazon Go cashierless convenience store in Seattle.
The Amazon Go store in downtown Seattle
Jason Del Rey

More than six months after Amazon announced in early 2017 that it would unveil a store of the future with no cashiers, the shop — dubbed Amazon Go — still hasn’t opened to the public.

As reported by Axios, one of the technology execs helping to lead the initiative has left Amazon for a role at a startup.

Bali Raghavan, whose LinkedIn profile describes his last Amazon role as “Director — Just Walk Out Technology, Amazon Go,” has joined the heavily funded real estate startup Opendoor as its vice president of engineering. Raghavan will relocate from the Seattle area to Silicon Valley for the new role, according to two people familiar with his move.

On his LinkedIn profile, Raghavan said his teams at Amazon “were responsible for the foundational technologies that make Amazon Go’s Just Walk Out shopping experience possible.”

He also said his team “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.”

The Amazon Go store uses a combination of sensors, cameras and, sometimes, behind-the-scenes humans, too, to bill shoppers for the items they pull from shelves, without them having to stop and check out before leaving the store.

But the opening of the convenience store was delayed because of tech problems that arose when the shop was too crowded or an item was moved on a shelf, the Wall Street Journal reported in March. An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment on Raghavan’s departure, and said there was no update on timing for Amazon Go’s grand opening.

The continued delays involving the Amazon Go store, which occupies just 1,800 square feet, should squash the much-hyped idea that the technology is anywhere near ready to replace cashiers in giant Whole Foods markets after Amazon’s $13.7 billion acquisition goes through.

Despite the timing of Raghavan’s departure, two people familiar with his move told Recode that it was not related to the store’s early issues. He declined to comment.

At Amazon, Raghavan most recently reported to Dilip Kumar, a former technical adviser to CEO Jeff Bezos, who leads all technology efforts behind the store concept as a vice president of Amazon Go.

Raghavan’s profile says he worked on the Go team as one of its earliest members for several years before it launched. He spent 12 years at Amazon, also serving in several senior roles helping to oversee retail pricing.


This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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