Google is implementing workforce reductions, affecting numerous employees within its hardware, voice assistance, and engineering teams. The company communicated to some workers that they had to make challenging decisions regarding ongoing employment and regretfully informed them that their positions are being eliminated.
In an official statement, the company expressed its commitment to responsible investments in its primary business focuses and the substantial opportunities that lie ahead.
The augmented reality hardware team will bear the brunt of the layoffs, with a notable impact on the 1P AR Hardware team. Previously, Google had distinct leaders overseeing hardware projects such as Fitbit, Nest, and Pixel.
Google initiated significant workforce reductions on Wednesday night, targeting multiple divisions to streamline expenses and concentrate on artificial intelligence.
The layoffs affected various areas, including the core engineering division, Google Assistant (the voice-operated virtual assistant), and the hardware division responsible for products like the Pixel phone, Fitbit watches, and Nest thermostat, according to sources familiar with the matter.
Employees from the core engineering organization faced corporate access removal, with notices indicating the elimination of their roles.
The hardware division, particularly a team focused on augmented reality, bore the brunt of the cuts. Google conveyed the news to affected employees through emails, expressing regret for the necessity of the decisions.
Confirming the Assistant cuts and hardware layoffs, a Google spokesman stated, “We’re responsibly investing in our company’s biggest priorities and the significant opportunities ahead.”
The spokesperson noted ongoing organizational changes and role eliminations as part of the company’s focus after adjustments made throughout the second half of 2023.
This move follows a broader trend of tech layoffs, with major companies like Google, Meta, and Amazon implementing significant workforce reductions in the preceding year.
Amazon also announced job cuts on the same day, affecting its Twitch streaming service, Prime Video, and MGM studios. Additionally, Xerox and Unity Software have recently disclosed plans for substantial staff reductions.
Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO, has been urging the company to refine its focus and cut costs since July 2022. In January 2023, Google executed its most extensive layoffs, affecting 6 percent of its workforce, or 12,000 individuals.
Executives emphasized a commitment to cost reduction while concentrating on generative artificial intelligence.
With approximately 182,000 employees as of September 30, Google stated that the recent layoffs are part of routine reorganizations conducted in the normal course of business.
The Alphabet Workers Union, representing over 1,400 workers at Alphabet, Google’s parent company, criticized the layoffs as “needless.”
Following this restructuring, a unified team is expected to manage all three products.
The technology company informed 9to5Google that a few hundred roles, primarily from the 1P AR Hardware team, are being eliminated within the Development, Support, and Product Areas (DSPA).
Despite these changes, Google emphasized its unwavering commitment to other augmented reality initiatives, including integrating AR experiences into its products and fostering product partnerships.
Responding to the layoffs, the Alphabet Workers Union issued a statement on X, condemning what they referred to as “another round of needless layoffs.”
The union expressed concern over the ongoing workforce reductions while the company continues to generate substantial profits. The statement asserted their determination to persist in advocating for job security.
In reply, a Google spokesperson communicated to TIME via email, stating, “We’re responsibly investing in our company’s biggest priorities and the significant opportunities ahead.”
The spokesperson explained that the changes made by several teams in the second half of 2023 were aimed at enhancing efficiency, alignment with major product priorities, and overall improvement in work processes.
Google has witnessed significant layoffs in recent years. In January 2023, the company announced a reduction of 12,000 roles, citing the need to align the workforce with the economic reality at that time.
Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google and Alphabet, emphasized the company’s commitment to a thorough review across product areas and functions to ensure alignment with its highest priorities.
The news of Google’s latest layoffs comes shortly after Amazon’s announcement of laying off hundreds of employees from its Prime video and Twitch teams.
This trend of tech layoffs has been observed in recent months, with Spotify letting go of 17% of its workforce in December and Meta (the parent company of Facebook) cutting 20,000 jobs throughout 2023.
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