Google is implementing further cost-cutting measures, leading to hundreds of layoffs across its digital assistant, hardware and engineering teams.
The affected roles primarily involve Google Assistant personnel and the augmented reality (AR) hardware team, along with individuals within the central engineering organization.
This move follows a year of large-scale reductions as the Alphabet subsidiary strives to refine its strategic priorities to adapt to intensifying competition from Microsoft and OpenAI.
"Throughout the second half of 2023, we made organizational changes to enhance efficiency and align resources with top product priorities," a Google spokesperson told Reuters.
“These efforts continue, including some necessary role eliminations across the globe.”
The reductions extend beyond entry and mid-level positions, as evidenced by Google's California filings revealing the layoffs of four vice presidents and 25 directors.
While Alphabet shares remained largely unaffected, news of the layoffs sparked unease among employees.
Former Google engineer Debarghya Das said that the tech giant has "fragmented the layoffs on purpose to make them seem more localized," but more teams have been affected, including Google Ads, Maps, Android and Core.
Google layoffs are not just Assistant, but purportedly multiple orgs that total 1000+— Deedy (@debarghya_das) January 11, 2024
2024 is just getting started. pic.twitter.com/IyZAFj501P
Das added that over 1,000 people have lost their jobs, a lot more than what is being reported on global news networks.
In a reply to a comment made by Spellbook CEO Scott Stevenson calling the layoffs "almost nothing" after a "performance review season," Das explained that employees are shocked because Google "rarely does performance-based firing."
Adding to the anxiety, the reorganization also sees the departure of Fitbit co-founders James Park and Eric Friedman after Google acquired Fitbit in 2019.
The Alphabet Workers Union has decried the layoff, calling them "needless" and promising to fight to keep employees' jobs safe.
Tonight, Google began another round of needless layoffs. Our members and teammates work hard every day to build great products for our users, and the company cannot continue to fire our coworkers while making billions every quarter. We won’t stop fighting until our jobs are safe!— Alphabet Workers Union (AWU-CWA) (@AlphabetWorkers) January 11, 2024
Despite the workforce reductions, Google maintains its commitment to investing in AI, viewing it as a key driver of future growth.
However, navigating this delicate balance between cost-cutting and innovation will be crucial for Google to reclaim employee trust and maintain its position as a tech leader.