News & Politics

Alexa Apologizes to Cities That Lost Amazon HQ2 Bid

Amazon.com logo: Nick Ansell/PA Wire (Press Association via AP Images)

If you opened your eyes for even a brief second yesterday, it was impossible to miss the news that Amazon has picked the site for its second headquarters. Make that sites, because the internet tech behemoth is splitting its second headquarters between Long Island City and Arlington, Virginia (specifically National Landing). While those of us in Arlington spent the day trying to figure out where in the world National Landing is, many other cities were bemoaning their failure to land the economic windfall that Amazon HQ2 is expected to bring with it.

To those living in the losing cities, Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant, offered apologies.

The thing is, Alexa should be apologizing to my neighbors and me, not those who dodged the infrastructure and housing-cost bullet that is Amazon’s HQ2. Sure, there are communities around the country that could greatly benefit from having Amazon in their city. Unfortunately, Amazon picked the two cities where the negatives will outweigh the benefits. For everyone not living in Long Island City or Arlington, Va., Alexa believes that semi-snarky condolences will cause you to forget that your community spent untold tax dollars and turned over unknown quantities of information to Amazon attempting to lure the tech giant to your town.

Writing for Patch, Tony Cantu provides further explanation:

Alexa who, depending on one’s perspective, either infuses humor into the mix or rubs more salt into the wound in delivering vaguely sardonic apologies to all cities involved in the virtual apology tour — all delivered in the familiar robotic-lady voice devoid of emotional inflection or human sense of empathy. The Please Apologize skill offering tailored apologies was built by Austin-based ad agency McGarrah Jessee.

The apology to Austin, in part: “Okay, Austin, maybe we do owe you an apology for this whole HQ2 thing,” Alexa says in the tailored mea culpa. “You’re feeling like we let you down — for months.”

A robotic-toned diatribe into strong dynamics of the local economy follows before specifics on other factors that may have played a part in Austin not landing the headquarters delivered in monotone, disembodied voice: “Okay, it’s also your bats. Honestly, bats just really freak us out. You say they’re regular bats. But what if they’re not? For all we know, you’re all secretly vampires. Like a sanctuary city for vampires who love tacos.”

Don’t worry, if you don’t live in Austin or one of the other many cities that thought they had a shot to land Amazon’s HQ2, Alexa has an apology for you, too. You can click here to see if your city has an apology from Alexa. I’m expecting an apology from Amazon for the even worse nightmare that will be my community’s traffic and housing costs because of HQ2.