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An image from a promotional video for the Bamboo Luminaries trivia app. Screenshot: Axios (via YouTube)

Bamboo Learning, a startup led by a former Amazon executive that primarily delivers educational content to Alexa-enabled smart speakers, on Monday comes to Google's rival ecosystem for the first time.

The big picture: Smart speakers offer opportunities for new categories of applications, but it remains difficult to make money in the market, which helps explain the relative dearth of startups focused on the space.

Details: Bamboo is bringing to Google Assistant its Bamboo Luminaries app, a trivia game that covers both prominent and lesser-known influential historical figures from fields ranging from literature and science to sports, film and social justice.

  • Bamboo's other titles, which include math, music and books apps, remain Amazon-only for now. Most of Bamboo's apps and content remain free.
  • Ian Freed, who once led Amazon's Kindle business, is CEO of the six-person company.
  • "Our goal is to build a large audience," Freed said. "We've made steady progress on that," he added, declining to give any usage numbers.

The company did say it has seen a marked increase in usage this year, as kids were sent home from school during the pandemic. Giving kids a laptop and Zoom can work out for older students, but it's not an option for working parents with kids in the early grades.

  • "It's the elementary school kids left without anything to be able to do independently" that Bamboo aims to help, says Irina Fine, Bamboo's co-founder and a 30-year veteran of elementary education curriculum work.
  • Young children — even pre-readers — can run smart speaker apps without needing a parent around, Fine said.

Go deeper

A tale of two jobs reports

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

Whatever you think about the economy, you’ll find something in this morning’s conflicting jobs report to reinforce your views: America's job market is white-hot and the labor market is anemic.

Between the lines: The conflict comes from the two separate surveys the government uses to compile the report.

Elon Musk's mega-billion bounty

Photo: Patrick Pleul/picture alliance via Getty Images

Here's how insanely rich Elon Musk is: He has unloaded $10 billion of his stock in the past month — and could do that 15+ more times given his silos of shares.

Ina Fried, author of Login
5 hours ago - Technology
Column / Signal Boost

Huawei sanctions snarled chip supply chains

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The largely successful U.S. effort to hobble China's Huawei has benefitted a host of other tech companies — from smartphone makers such as Apple and Xiaomi to chipmakers like Qualcomm to network vendors including Nokia and Ericsson.

Yes, but: The massive disruption to the industry furthered an industry wide mismatch between supply and demand, exacerbating the global chip shortage.