Cambridge Energy Startup Sense Hires Amazon Alexa Manager

Cambridge-based startup Sense, which develops a device that monitors home energy usage, has hired a former manager of the Amazon Alexa team who’s an expert in the field of speech recognition.

George Zavaliagkos. Photo provided.

George Zavaliagkos, who’s joining Sense as vice president of technology, will be responsible for shaping and directing the company’s technology portfolio, which includes leading the development of deep machine learning for disaggregation and bringing intelligence to anything connected to residential electric systems.

“After an amazing learning experience with Amazon (my heart is still with you Alexa!) and large company management, back having fun with data at a startup – Sense Labs,” Zavaliagkos wrote on his Linkedin profile.

“My heart is still with you Alexa!”

At Amazon’s Alexa division, Zavaliagkos led a 300-person team of machine learning and data scientists, engineers, linguists and language associates. His main responsibility was broadening the scope of Alexa’s capabilities including new languages, new skill development, and data collection for training and deployment of Alexa’s cloud models.

“As a data scientist, nothing is more rewarding than cracking a data-rich problem,” Zavaliagkos said in a statement. “The volume of data Sense has already collected has the potential to fundamentally change how consumers interact with their homes. I am looking forward to joining Sense’s exceptional data science team to leverage our high-resolution energy data to maximize the value we bring to customers.”

In September 2016, the Cambridge energy startup raised $14 million in Series A funding from leading investors Shell Technology Ventures and Energy Impact Partners. Founded in 2013, the company has between 11 and 50 employees, according to LinkedIn.

In addition to the hiring of Zavaliagkos, Sense announced it has promoted Rhoda Ullmann to vice president of marketing and consumer sales.

“We are now entering a new phase of growth for the company that will increasingly be focused on providing higher level intelligence in our products, and identifying how these products can address real consumer pain points,” Mike Phillips, CEO of Sense, said in a statement.

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