How Much Would It Cost For Anthony Hopkins To Individually Respond To All Alexa Queries?
If you thought $10M per minute to advertise on the Superbowl was a lot, wait until you see what it would cost Amazon to deploy their Hopkins-based Alexa service.
To simplify, and with apologies to Gordon Ramsey, Cardi B, and Rebel Wilson, let’s assume that Amazon is only going to use Anthony Hopkins to respond to all voice queries issued to Alexa-enabled devices. There are various online sources that we will count as reliable for the sake of this scientific inquiry, and they point to an average estimated annual salary of around $20M. We’ll assume that Sir Hopkins will work 50 weeks a year, 40 hours a week.
Now let’s figure out how much of the Oscar award-winning actor’s time we will need. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos was quoted in October 2017 stating that there are 20M Alexa devices. Let’s assume that the 2017 holiday season — where Amazon aggressively priced its Echo Dot at $29 — was good for Amazon and the installed base is now closer to 30M devices. A June 2017 report from Verto Analytics reports high user engagement for Alexa devices, with an average of 18 minutes of conversation per user per month.
This means the Alexa system handles somewhere on the order of 540 million minutes (or about 1000 years) of voice traffic each month. So clearly Amazon will need more than one Anthony Hopkins. In fact, they will need at least 54,000 Hopkins (or 54 kiloHopkins which — for clarity — are distinct from the killer-Hopkins in the film The Silence of the Lambs). The cost to hire all those Hopkins? About $1.1 Trillion per year, about the same as the GDP of Mexico.
While the voice talent is by far the most significant cost in this program, there are a few incidental costs:
- While it might be tempting to lease or build call center space (at a cost of around $500M a year), the three-time BAFTA award winning Anthony Hopkins will clearly be working from a seaside tropical location. AirBnB lists several seaside locations in Malibu California for around $300/day which, if we assume each Hopkins gets his own place (let’s be humane), will run about 12 times as much as the call center at $6B per year. We will ignore, for the moment that this scheme will completely exhaust the local supply of vacation homes in Southern California.
- The four or so peacocks for each Hopkins, are essentially a rounding error at $43M.
- The least expensive part of this program is the ear-mounted Alexa Dots for each Hopkins. Assuming the holiday $29 price is close to cost, this will add another $1.5M to our bill.
Conclusion: With $20B cash on hand according to their most recent 10k filing, this approach will bankrupt Amazon in less than one week. This seems like inconsistent cost management for a company that builds its own desks out of doors. The current machine-learned Alexa system is likely to be more scalable.