Google Axes Staff In Assistant, Hardware, Engineering Teams

Alphabet’s Google is handing down bad news to hundreds of its staff this week, after confirming another tranche of job losses.

Reuters reported Google confirming on Wednesday it is laying off hundreds of employees across multiple teams. In addition, Fitbit co-founders James Park and Eric Friedman are also exiting the search engine giant, amid ongoing cost cutting measures.

It was a year ago when in January 2023 Alphabet had announced that it would cut 12,000 jobs worldwide, or roughly 6 percent of its workforce. It came after Google had warned in October 2022 that it would cut hiring by half during Q4 of 2022.

Image credit: Jonny Gios/Unsplash

Job losses

Google staff last year walked out in protest at the jobs cuts, and criticised the company for abruptly cutting off access to those who lost their jobs in January 2023.

In June 2023 it emerged that Google was axing staff in its highly popular mapping service Waze, which it had acquired for $1.3 billion back in 2013.

In September 2023 it was reported that Google was cutting hundreds of jobs in its global recruiting organisation as part of a broader pullback in hiring over the next several quarters.

Now Google has told Reuters it will lay off hundreds at its Voice Assistant unit.

In addition, a few hundred roles are also being eliminated in the hardware team responsible for Pixel, Nest and Fitbit, with the majority of people in the augmented reality (AR) team being let go.

Hundreds of roles in the search giant’s central engineering team are also being impacted, the company told Reuters.

Fitbit departures

It is also being reported in other media outlets that Fitbit co-founders James Park, Eric Friedman, and other Fitbit leaders are leaving the company entirely.

Google had completed its $2.1bn acquisition of health and fitness tracking company Fitbit in 2021, after a number of regulatory investigations.

“Throughout second-half of 2023, a number of our teams made changes to become more efficient and work better, and to align their resources to their biggest product priorities. Some teams are continuing to make these kinds of organisational changes, which include some role eliminations globally,” a spokesperson for Google told Reuters in a statement.

The spokesperson did not specify the number of roles being impacted, and Reuters noted that it is not immediately clear how many people are part of the Google Assistant software and other teams.

Needless layoffs?

In a post on X (formerly Twitter) the Alphabet Workers Union described the job cuts as “another round of needless layoffs.”

“Tonight, Google began another round of needless layoffs. Our members and teammates work hard every day to build great products for our users, and the company cannot continue to fire our coworkers while making billions every quarter,” the union said. “We won’t stop fighting until our jobs are safe!”

As of September 2023, Alphabet had 182,381 employees globally.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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