In a letter to Google employees last Friday, Google/Alphabet CEO Sudar Pichai relayed a sobering and difficult message to the entire Google team that 12,000 Google employees would be released from their jobs moving forward. The news comes on the heels of massive layoffs from Microsoft (10,000), Amazon (18,000), and Meta (11,000) as the economic downturn and inflation continue to make things quite difficult for large tech companies across the board.
I have some difficult news to share. We’ve decided to reduce our workforce by approximately 12,000 roles. We’ve already sent a separate email to employees in the US who are affected. In other countries, this process will take longer due to local laws and practices.
This will mean saying goodbye to some incredibly talented people we worked hard to hire and have loved working with. I’m deeply sorry for that. The fact that these changes will impact the lives of Googlers weighs heavily on me, and I take full responsibility for the decisions that led us here.
Over the past two years we’ve seen periods of dramatic growth. To match and fuel that growth, we hired for a different economic reality than the one we face today.
I am confident about the huge opportunity in front of us thanks to the strength of our mission, the value of our products and services, and our early investments in AI. To fully capture it, we’ll need to make tough choices. So, we’ve undertaken a rigorous review across product areas and functions to ensure that our people and roles are aligned with our highest priorities as a company. The roles we’re eliminating reflect the outcome of that review. They cut across Alphabet, product areas, functions, levels and regions.
To the Googlers who are leaving us: Thank you for working so hard to help people and businesses everywhere. Your contributions have been invaluable and we are grateful for them.
While this transition won’t be easy, we’re going to support employees as they look for their next opportunity.via The Keyword
It is unclear if this decision has been affected by the sudden and buzz-worthy rise of OpenAI’s ChatGPT in recent months, but I can’t imagine it isn’t in the conversation. Though Google has invested deeply in AI, OpenAI’s impressive ChapGPT and their partnership with Microsoft to leverage the service in search and existing office software likely weighs heavy on the minds of the execs at Google. While not a threat in the near term, AI for search is a big threat to Google’s core business model and staying in front of that tech is paramount to their viability as a company.
Google’s earnings report last fall showed growing revenue, but shrinking profits, and in an economy currently fraught with inflation and a looming recession, somethign has to give. Unfortunately, that means a tighter focus on core products, leading to the release of many employees that have been with Google for a very long time.
This of course comes with plenty of backlash on social media, and we’re once again reminded of the very difficult balance that exists with these product we use each day that are fundamental to both work and education. Remaining focused on the main idea is key, but that sometimes means these large companies have to make incredibly difficult decisions to make that happen.
I’m saddened for those who have lost their career not only at Google, but at Amazon, Meta, and Microsoft as well. While it is tempting to look at big tech companies as unstoppable, too-big-to-fail giants, times like these remind us that this is never truly the case and that underneath all that corporate sheen, there are real people with real lives that do the actual work. For this stage in history, many of them are now looking for other work, and as a fan of tech and the strides we see because of it, these types of stories hurt.