Google announced widespread layoffs this week, cutting hundreds of jobs across its hardware, assistant, and advertising teams. The layoffs come as the tech giant looks to AI and automation to replace some human roles.
Google has historically been viewed as an industry leader in benefits and workplace culture. However, recent cost-cutting efforts and a slowing economy have led the company to shed jobs.
- Over the past year, Google’s parent company Alphabet has reported slower revenue growth
- Other tech giants like Amazon and Microsoft have also cut jobs recently
- Google CEO Sundar Pichai has pushed more products to be powered by AI, resulting in redundancies
Hardware and Assistant Teams Cut
Google’s hardware division, which includes teams working on products like Pixel phones and Nest home devices, faced substantial cuts.
- Hundreds of employees were laid off from the hardware and assistant teams
- The cuts impacted product areas seen as redundant or underperforming
- 20% of staff were cut from the team working on the underwhelming Pixel tablet
- Google plans to rely more on partners to manufacture hardware
- The cuts signal a de-emphasis of struggling hardware bets like AR glasses
“It is clear Google has too many people and too much product overlap,” said Wayne Lam, an analyst at CCS Insight.
Advertising Sales Team Impacted
Significant layoffs also occurred in the advertising sales organization, which serves Google’s biggest money maker.
- Hundreds of sales employees were dismissed in favor of AI
- New automated channels will replace the need for as many sales reps
- The move raised debate about the ethics of replacing people’s jobs
Many affected employees said they felt shocked and devastated after dedicating years or even decades to Google.
“This morning it was announced Google is laying off almost the entire hardware division. My entire team was let go,” posted one engineer on an internal message board.
Other employees learned their fate not through any formal announcement, but after suddenly losing access to company systems.
What Comes Next?
As Google plows ahead with integrating more AI, observers expect even more roles to come under threat.
- Customer support, content moderation, and other repetitive jobs could be next
- But even high-skilled positions like software developers aren’t immune
- Tougher economic conditions could force another wave of cuts
At the same time, lawmakers and activists are increasing calls for tech companies to consider social impacts as they eliminate jobs.
Google remains highly profitable, leaving some to question justification for the cuts. But Alphabet is under rising pressure to keep margins up amidst economic uncertainty.
The company isn’t alone in cutting costs through layoffs. If demand continues to weaken in 2024, Big Tech job cuts could accelerate across the industry.
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