Google today announced it was laying off 12,000 employees, or just over 6% of its workforce. As of September 2022, Alphabet had 186,779 employees. The layoffs impacted many departments and roles within Google and Alphabet.
Besides a big leak detailing what AI features could be announced at I/O 2023, the New York Times reported that Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin “held several meetings with company executives” in December on rolling out AI features.
The two don’t have formal roles at the company beyond being Alphabet board members and controlling shareholders. Invited by CEO Sundar Pichai, Page and Brin “reviewed Google’s artificial intelligence product strategy.”
They approved plans and pitched ideas to put more chatbot features into Google’s search engine. And they offered advice to company leaders, who have put A.I. front and center in their plans.
Meanwhile, The Information reports that the job cuts were wide-ranging in terms of positions and divisions. Those impacted worked on Android and Chrome (Platforms and Ecosystems), Search, and Cloud. Tweets today from those in the United States that were laid off confirm those areas and roles (engineers, developer relations, community). Layoffs in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East could take months to complete (via Business Insider).
Laid-off employees included those who had previously received high performance reviews or held managerial positions with annual compensation packages of $500,000 to $1 million, according to managers who spoke to The Information.
The Google Brain AI lab was said to be “relatively unaffected” and is currently working to incorporate its technology into various products and features. The broader Google Research organization (per Bloomberg), however, is seeing some cuts. Google’s health ambitions, specifically tools for clinicians, will have a “smaller footprint” going forward.
Google is also “consolidating some of our robotics efforts across Alphabet and Google, with the net effect of slightly growing the overall robotics effort within our Research organization.”
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