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What just happened? Google employees who survived the company laying off thousands of workers this month might still not be safe. CEO Sundar Pichai has warned staff to brace themselves for more cuts as the search giant focuses on "ambitious goals" and investing in "big priorities" this year.
Googlers are having a tough time right now. It was reported earlier this month that the company had become the latest to let go of thousands of workers across multiple divisions, with big reductions in the core engineering, Google Assistant, and hardware teams. Google's sales, YouTube, search, policy, and shopping businesses have also been impacted.
In an internal email seen by The Verge, CEO Pichai reveals that more cuts are coming in 2024. "We have ambitious goals and will be investing in our big priorities this year," Pichai wrote. "The reality is that to create the capacity for this investment, we have to make tough choices."
Google parent Alphabet joined the massive number of companies laying off people early in 2023 as the overhiring during the pandemic and reduced consumer demand started hitting tech firms. It let go of 12,000 employees, and while that was more than most, the number was still less than half the 27,000 people that Amazon laid off.
"These role eliminations are not at the scale of last year's reductions, and will not touch every team," Pichai wrote, referencing the 6% of Alphabet workers that were let go in January 2023. "But I know it's very difficult to see colleagues and teams impacted."
Google is joining Duolingo, Amazon, Meta, Twitch, Unity and others in announcing job cuts this month. Several of these are undoubtedly related to AI, either pouring more resources into the area or using it to replace staff. Duolingo confirmed that one reason for laying off 10% of its contractors was its increased use of generative artificial intelligence.
According to Layoffs.fyi, 58 tech companies have laid off 7,785 people in the first 18 days of 2024.
Pichai's mention of investing in big priorities and ambitious goals could also be a reference to artificial intelligence development. Google unveiled Gemini last month, a ChatGPT competitor that is its most advanced AI model to date.
The Alphabet/Google CEO never said exactly how many jobs will go in this year's rounds of cuts. It might not reach 12,000 people, but we can still expect a significant number of positions to be eliminated.