1,457
 

This 22-year-old college student makes $10,000 a month off Amazon's Alexa


 
1
most viewed right now
  48
115 comments @hiphop


section   (0 bx goons and 1 bystanders) Share this on Twitter       Share this on Facebook
 

 9 months ago '17        #1
8823 page views
40 comments


Enigmatic1 342 heat pts342
space
avatar space
space
$2,631 | Props total: 12472 12472
This 22-year-old college student makes $10,000 a month off Amazon's Alexa
 

 
image

David Markey, a 22-year-old senior studying applied mathematics and economics at Brown University, got his first Amazon Echo during the e-commerce giant's Prime Day sale in 2016.

That day, Amazon sold more Echoes — the $99 voice enabled, internet-connected speaker with smart a.ssistant Alexa — than it ever had before, more than doubling the previous sales record. By holiday season 2017, Echo devices, which can do a host of tasks from playing music to setting alarms to ordering products on Amazon, had become so popular, shoppers were using their Echoes to buy more Echoes.

And what's been good for Amazon has been good for Markey: With a little computer savvy, he capitalized on the product and now earns $10,000 a month by coding "skills" for Alexa.

"It was awesome getting the first check," Markey tells CNBC Make It. "It paid my rent in full."

Alexa skills, which run on everything from Amazon's Echos to Alexa-enabled smart watches, allow users to interact with compatible hardware, apps and games through voice commands. For example, by enabling smart-home skills like iRobot Home, you can simply say, "Alexa, ask Roomba to start cleaning," to get your smart vacuum going. Or you can enable skills like CNBC's Flash Briefing to hear the day's headlines. Alexa will even test your knowledge of Kardashian trivia. Currently there are over 30,000 skills for Alexa built by third-party developers, which users can find in the Alexa app or online in Amazon's skills store.

For Markey, it all started when he first set up his Echo. He marveled at how many things Alexa could do.

"I set up my apartment with smart lights and I used the Echo for setting timers for cooking, and I really enjoyed it," he says. He was also listening to various flash briefings every morning. "I found that to be a really good way to get the news while I was having my morning coffee."

But there was one thing he couldn't find. He wanted a skill to teach him a new word and its definition each day, and he wanted it to be read in a human's voice, instead of a computer.

"Everything there was voiced by Alexa," he says. "So I decided to make one myself."

Markey has been writing computer code since his sophomore year of high school and is focusing on machine learning in his applied mathematics program at Brown. He says designing the skill was a fun way to combine his love for coding with something a bit more creative.

"I had a microphone, so I just picked a bunch of words that I didn't know, wrote some scripts and then recorded them in a weekend," he says. He used trial and error along with guidelines from Amazon to launch his first free skill, "Word of the Day" in February 2017, and he read the words to listeners himself.

Within a month, its popularity soared.

At the time, Amazon didn't offer metrics for developers to see how their skill was performing, so Markey hacked his own method.

"I had jerry-rigged a system for getting the metrics out of it, and there were all sorts of weird things," he laughs. "It was disproportionately popular in South Korea, which was interesting."

He looked at his user numbers and "It was way more than I expected," he says, though he declines to disclose specifics. An Amazon representative also declined to comment on user numbers.

Despite his skill's growing popularity, it was a hobby then, so Markey wasn't earning any money from it. At times, he felt overwhelmed by having to create content for his growing fan base, especially when he moved to Philadelphia for an internship at Vanguard.

There, Markey was living in an empty apartment with bare walls. "I had a lot of difficulty getting the audio to be anywhere near the quality that I needed it to be," he says.

"The moments where I came closest to going, 'I don't want to do this anymore,' were [when] I'm pulling all of my clothes out of the closets and my bedding and draping it around the furniture ... putting my mic in it and hunching over this tent that looks like something a kid would make and trying to read the word of the day," he says.

Frustrated, he wrote an email to Amazon CEO (and the world's richest man) Jeff Bezos.

"Basically I said, 'Hey, I really enjoy doing this, but I feel like it is super popular and now I'm just watching this number go up and I feel aimless and don't have a goal,'" Markey says. In response, Bezos forwarded his email to an executive in charge of developers for the Echo, who then reached out to Markey.

"[I] had a very inspiring chat with one of the higher-ups working on the Echo, and decided that I was going to push through," he says.

That persistence paid off: In May 2017, Amazon launched its Alexa Developer Rewards program, which pays developers who create top performing skills within specific categories, like "education and reference" or "trivia and accessories."

While Markey's "Word of the Day" skill didn't qualify for the initiative, he had an idea for a second skill that would. He created an interactive game called "Word of the Day Quiz" and launched it later in 2017, funneling his already-built user base toward the second skill.

After it went live, the checks started rolling in.

Markey launched a third skill in December of 2017, called "Price It Right." It's a game in which users guess the price of Amazon products, and is also eligible for the Developer Rewards Program. After playing, users can enter to win Amazon gift cards.

Then in January, a gaming company called Volley agreed to buy Markey's Alexa Skills while allowing him to retain a portion of the Developer Rewards income. They also gave him a job at the enterprise, where he spends 35 hours a week working. Through the popularity of his two later skills and his partnership with Volley, Markey collects about $10,000 each month.

For Markey, the payoff is a reminder of the value of determination.

"I was really happy that I hadn't given up when I was building tent forts," he says.

For other ambitious young people who would like to make extra cash, Markey suggests using digital tools like Storyline. And now Amazon provides free resources to teach anyone — regardless of coding talent — how to create a skill.

"We think it should be simple for people of all skill levels to build for Alexa," Rob Pulciani, the director of Amazon Alexa, tells CNBC Make It. "It's still early days for voice and we think there is a lot of upside for developers looking to innovate and create voice-first businesses with Alexa."

Online, Amazon provides an Alexa Skills Kit of tutorials, and the company also holds Alexa Dev Days conferences in cities across the country, which are free events where "the Alexa team meets with learners of all levels," according to Pulciani.

So far, the developer rewards program has paid "millions of dollars" to developers in 22 countries, Techcrunch reports.

Of course, not everyone makes as much money as Markey. Amazon doesn't let individual developers include ads in their skills, so some do the work for little payoff. There's also a lack of transparency about how the Developer Rewards program works and pays out, according to CNET. In late 2017, Amazon announced the ability for developers to charge users for premium content was in preview with select developers. (For example, in "Heads Up!" from The Ellen DeGeneres Show, players can "get started with a few free decks and then purchase more themed decks to keep the game going," according to Amazon.) Amazon says the program will be widely available in 2018. Supbsciptions and Amazon Pay are also in beta.

And there are other benefits for coders like Markey. He says the rise of voice-enabled devices has given him new in-real-life skills to compete in the job market. In fact, at a recent Alexa Dev Days conference, Markey landed a job interview for a position after his graduation in May by chatting with a fellow developer.

He got the job.

While the cash from his Alexa skills side hustle is nice, "I think the most valuable thing that I ended up getting was a career," Markey jokes.

40 comments for "This 22-year-old college student makes $10,000 a month off Amazon's Alexa"

 9 months ago '15        #2
Prad Bitt 
space
avatar space
space
$1,858 | Props total: 2893 2893
I got that fya for Skynet.

 9 months ago '15        #3
liquidzero 
space
avatar space
space
$798 | Props total: 4593 4593
 Prad Bitt said
I got that fya for Skynet.

[pic - click to view]


 9 months ago '06        #4
waytoomuch 4 heat pts
space
avatar space
space
$27,930 | Props total: 9460 9460
how da hell did he get jeff bezos' email back then tho

 9 months ago '16        #5
bxing 3 heat pts
space
space
space
$1,285 | Props total: 1735 1735
disproportionately popular in South Korea

Get ready for the take over

 9 months ago '07        #6
JohnDoe 220 heat pts220
space
avatar space
space
$12,847 | Props total: 7516 7516
 Ilost said


since 2010
I see this on reddit/flipping sometimes with sh*tty issues from Amazon sellers and he'll answer back if he can I guess. Kinda cool to have some ability to contact a person in power.

 9 months ago '15        #7
thirssty58 6 heat pts
space
avatar space
space
$13,371 | Props total: 19207 19207
early adopters winning...vision, determination good for him

 9 months ago '14        #8
consigliereA 99 heat pts99
space
avatar space
space
$30,665 | Props total: 38546 38546

 9 months ago '04        #9
quedawg 2 heat pts
space
space
space
$685 | Props total: 699 699
He at least 40

 9 months ago '09        #10
Vincent_Chase 27 heat pts27
space
avatar space
space
$11,575 | Props total: 1499 1499
Brother prospering that's awesome

 9 months ago '16        #11
YKing 16 heat pts16
space
avatar space
space
$2,027 | Props total: 6694 6694

 9 months ago '16        #12
3 bs 37 heat pts37
space
avatar space
space
$14,806 | Props total: 32501 32501
I make more than him

 9 months ago '17        #13
Sloan21 312 heat pts312
space
space
space
$5,738 | Props total: 16093 16093
 3 bs said
I make more than him
Ok

 9 months ago '11        #14
Kooper 234 heat pts234
space
avatar space
space
$26,181 | Props total: 10220 10220
 3 bs said
I make more than him
That's his hobby, some sh*t he thought would be cool while eating his eggos

That's not including what's lined up after a mathematics degree from an Ivy league school




Props to you tho.

I guess

 9 months ago '17        #15
Tempus1 1 heat pts
space
avatar space
space
$3,611 | Props total: 12154 12154
 Kooper said
That's his hobby, some sh*t he thought would be cool while eating his eggos

That's not including what's lined up after a mathematics degree from an Ivy league school




Props to you tho.

I guess
120,000 per year side hustle

 9 months ago '04        #16
nobody 1 heat pts
space
avatar space
space
$2,572 | Props total: 2106 2106
I'll never own one of them ease dropping machines. Bad enough we got cellphones that monitor your habits, im not adding one of these things to relay everything back to the NSA. Snowden already warned you.

 9 months ago '16        #17
i206 1 heat pts
space
avatar space
space
$577 | Props total: 1742 1742
 nobody said
I'll never own one of them easedropping machines. Bad enough we got cellphones that monitor your habits, im not adding one of these things to relay everything back to the NSA. Snowden already warned you.

 9 months ago '17        #18
Exodus 313 33 heat pts33
space
avatar space
space
$5,879 | Props total: 11753 11753
So what did he do I’m not reading all that

 9 months ago '17        #19
Pretty Tone 2 heat pts
space
avatar space
space
$6,826 | Props total: 19637 19637

[video - click to view]


 9 months ago '15        #20
Maxbcline 
space
space
space
$1,504 | Props total: 5615 5615
 Vincent_Chase said
Brother prospering that's awesome
bunch of wierdos here.

Dude outfitted a rental with automated lighting?
Some smart people do dumb sh*t.

 9 months ago '17        #21
509 12 heat pts12
space
space
space
$3,890 | Props total: 13319 13319
 Vincent_Chase said
Brother prospering that's awesome
 Maxbcline said
bunch of wierdos here.

Dude outfitted a rental with automated lighting?
Some smart people do dumb sh*t.
Brother Excellence

 9 months ago '04        #22
Monoblock 4 heat pts
space
avatar space
space
$2,812 | Props total: 2193 2193

[pic - click to view]


 9 months ago '04        #23
J.BEEZY 11 heat pts11
space
avatar space
space
$8,934 | Props total: 4011 4011
 3 bs said
I make more than him
congrats, this is BX tho, we all make 6-7 figures, bag dimes and our sh*t don't stink


 9 months ago '04        #24
Adwerdz 404 heat pts404
space
avatar space
space
$37,441 | Props total: 36740 36740
I got one, hooked it ip for a week, then tossed it. I don't know where that sh*t is at. That sh*t listens to everything that you are doing in your home

 9 months ago '04        #25
PrisonRules 72 heat pts72
space
avatar space
space
$28,248 | Props total: 7664 7664
 waytoomuch said
how da hell did he get jeff bezos' email back then tho
Probably easy to get, but the fact Jeff read it is more impressive because he probably gets millions of emails

Home      
  



 
 





most viewed right now
+207online now  14
Image(s) inside Pretty Girl Issues Is TOP Heavy!
75 comments
2 days ago
@thotsdimesetc
most viewed right now
online now  13
Image(s) inside LMAO: Gay Rap LHH Superstar "Bobby Lytes" Get Jumped At 7 11 By The 71..
30 comments
2 days ago
@misc
most viewed right now
online now  8
Video inside The View speak on that Gillette commercial
68 comments
1 day ago
@movies
most viewed right now
-17online now  6
Hoodrich Pablo Juan robbed again left naked in the streets in Atlanta
372 comments
1 day ago
@hiphop
most viewed right now
online now  5
Article inside Apple Getting Flabby & Desperate - Introducing: the Apple Big Butt B..
36 comments
2 days ago
@tech
most viewed right now
+110online now  5
Video inside Big Drako aka New Nas Soulja boy breakfast club interview
290 comments
2 days ago
@hiphop
most viewed right now
-18online now  5
Video inside Cars with worst resale value
113 comments
2 days ago
@rides
most viewed right now
online now  3
Image(s) inside HoodRich Pablo Juan got robbed again.
41 comments
2 days ago
@hiphop
back to top
register contact Follow BX @ Twitter Follow BX @ Facebook search BX privacy