When tech layoffs ramped up in 2022, Google was one of the few companies that seemed like it might avoid a big layoff. There were whispers of tougher evaluations, but it did not come anywhere close to what is happening now, with the Google layoffs hitting 12,000 employees in a move that sees people around the world losing their positions.
It Affects Around 6% of Google’s Global Workforce
The massive Google layoffs see it losing a 6% chunk of the people working at the company. While it is not clear how many of those jobs are located in the US, CEO Sundar Pichai wrote an email to North American workers informing them of the situation.
- Local laws and practices will delay the process in other countries.
- The job cuts will affect people throughout parent company Alphabet.
- The layoffs see many talented people leaving the company, including those who have recently been hired or promoted.
According to Pichai, the layoffs affect people in all “product areas, functions, levels and regions.”
It is the same old story of overhiring due to periods of rapid growth. “To match and fuel that growth, we hired for a different economic reality than the one we face today,” said Pichai. But that is not the only reason.
Focus on AI Plays a Role In the Decision
Artificial intelligence is already a big part of the tech industry, and it is only growing in importance. That is evident with Microsoft’s interest in OpenAI and ChatGPT, which it plans to use to punch up its existing products, in part to compete with Google. As such, Google made the decision to focus on AI, even if it meant making “tough choices.”
- Google plans to use AI in more of its products.
- Talent is being refocused on AI, meaning those not aligned with the new direction were more likely to be cut.
- Microsoft’s recent move is a direct threat to Google, which made early investments in AI and has been the leader for some time.
Reuters reported that Alphabet is approaching a major AI launch, which is planned for the spring.
Google’s Support for Affected Employees
The Google layoffs announcement came with Pichai taking “full responsibility” for what is happening. While that is not much comfort to the workers losing their jobs, the company is prepared to support affected workers.
- Employees will be paid during the notification period (a minimum of 60 days).
- The severance package includes 16 weeks’ salary plus two weeks per year at Google.
- Paid 2022 bonuses and remaining vacation time.
- Six months of healthcare, job placement services, and immigration support.
No layoffs are welcomed by employees, and the Google layoffs are not an exception. It is made worse for those who see their termination as a direct result of a focus on AI.
January Has Proved a Hard Month for Tech Companies
With the addition of Google layoffs, it appears that nobody in Big Tech is safe. Microsoft, which shared many similarities to the Google layoffs, including a future focused on AI, cut 10,000 employees recently. Additionally, Amazon, Spotify, and many others are also feeling the pressure. Even Apple is reportedly starting to lay off non-seasonal retail employees. If January is a taste of what is to come, 2023 might be a difficult year.