Google cuts hundreds of jobs in engineering and other divisions

SAN FRANCISCO – Google laid off hundreds of workers in several divisions on Jan 10, seeking to lower expenses as it focuses on artificial intelligence and joining a wave of other companies cutting tech jobs in 2024.

The company laid off employees in its core engineering division, as well as those working on the Google Assistant, a voice-operated virtual assistant, and in the hardware division that makes the Pixel phone, Fitbit watches and Nest thermostat, three people with knowledge of the cuts said.

Several hundred employees from the company’s core engineering organisation lost corporate access and received notices that their roles were eliminated, two of the people said.

“We’ve had to make some difficult decisions about ongoing employment of some Google employees and we regret to inform you that your position is being eliminated,” the company told some workers in the division, according to text reviewed by The New York Times.

Google confirmed the Assistant cuts, earlier reported by Semafor, and the hardware layoffs, earlier reported by the blog 9to5Google.

“We’re responsibly investing in our company’s biggest priorities and the significant opportunities ahead,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement. After cuts throughout the second half of 2023, “some teams are continuing to make these kinds of organisational changes, which include some role eliminations globally”.

The cuts continue a trend of tech layoffs, after large companies such as Google, Meta and Amazon laid off thousands of workers in 2023.

Ten days into 2024, more companies have announced job cuts. Earlier on Jan 10, Amazon shed hundreds of workers from its Twitch streaming service, Prime Video and MGM studios. Xerox said in January that it would cut 15 per cent of its 23,000-person staff, and the video game software provider Unity Software said it would eliminate 1,800 roles, or 25 per cent of its workforce.

At Google, chief executive Sundar Pichai has pushed the company since July 2022 to sharpen its focus and to reduce expenses as global economic conditions deteriorated. In January 2023, Google shed 6 per cent of its workforce, or 12,000 people, in the largest layoffs the company has conducted. Since then, executives at the company have said they would try to significantly reduce costs, as it focuses on the growing field of generative artificial intelligence.

Google, which had 182,000 employees as at Sept 30, 2023, said the layoffs on Jan 10 were part of a set of reorganisations made in the normal course of business.

The Alphabet Workers Union, a group representing more than 1,400 workers at Google’s parent company, Alphabet, described the layoffs as “needless”.

“Our members and teammates work hard every day to build great products for our users, and the company cannot continue to fire our co-workers while making billions every quarter,” the group said in a post on the social media site X, formerly Twitter. NYTIMES

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