Google Announces Layoffs of 12K Staffers in Latest Tech Bloodletting

The company joins Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter in sacking thousands. A looming economic downturn is blamed but could there just be a surplus of ”elites” tech?
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The parent company of Google announced on Friday that it will be laying off about 12,000 workers from its global workforce, which totals about 6 percent of the company’s employees. 

The news came from Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai, who wrote an email to employees Friday morning saying he had some “difficult news” to share.

 “We’ve decided to reduce our workforce by approximately 12,000 roles,” Pichai wrote in an email to all employees, according to reports. “This will mean saying goodbye to some incredibly talented people we worked hard to hire and have loved working with. I’m deeply sorry for that.” In a separate memo announcing the layoffs, Pichai cited “economic reality,” reports NBC News.

In 2020, Pichai was granted a $240 million stock package on top of his $2 million annual salary to recognize his new role as both chief executive of Alphabet and Google, reported Verge.

Google is now the latest tech company to announce mass layoffs as a period of expansion during the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed. On Wednesday, the ax fell at Microsoft, which announced 10,000 job cuts—5 percent of their total workforce; the company came under criticism as well, as top execs just enjoyed an “intimate” event with Sting in Davos, The Seattle Times reports.

Amazon followed one round of layoffs in November by expanding the cuts in January to 18,000 jobs, marking its biggest headcount reduction ever, the Verge reported. Chief Executive Andy Jassy addressed the cuts in a blog post, writing in part, “Amazon has weathered uncertain and difficult economies in the past, and we will continue to do so.”

Facebook parent company Meta, in the middle of its November restructuring, slashed 11,000 positions, or 13 percent of its staff, in the first major headcount reduction in the company’s history, according to the Wall Street Journal Meta leader Mark Zuckerberg wrote that “…the macroeconomic downturn, increased competition, and ads signal loss have caused our revenue to be much lower than I’d expected,” in a Facebook blog post. “I got this wrong and I take responsibility for that.” Zuckerberg added in a call with managers that his projections about growth had been “over-optimistic.”

And also in November, as billionaire Elon Musk took over Twitter, the world’s sometimes wealthiest man slashed 7,500 jobs, amounting to half the platform’s workforce. This was including those who would not sign an agreement to work “extremely hardcore” at the new version of Twitter.

A slew of smaller tech companies, like Intel in California, Qualtrics, and Coinbase, have also laid off a number of workers. It has now become a parlor game among a certain set to diagnose the problem of tech companies laying off 10,000 people or more.

“The pandemic distorted everything and most firms were extremely short-sighted,” said an ex-Apple manufacturing design leader, who was granted anonymity so as not to torch their career, tells LAMag. “Many firms [Amazon, Meta, Facebook] dramatically over-hired during the pandemic.”

The former Apple design leader said that at some companies, depending on the departments in question, there was clear overlap or redundancies between jobs.

“My personal perspective is that many of these tech jobs are unnecessary,” they said. “Tech has become a haven for surplus elites that are addicted to the perks and incomes offered by these ‘prestigious’ positions. These companies could all survive and thrive with a transition back to flat organization structures and significantly less headcount.”

Most of the major tech companies cited a looming recession or adverse economic conditions as one reason for the mass layoffs they’d ordered.

But the ever-looming recession hasn’t come yet, and it seems that shedding excess baggage has left some executives feeling more nimble already. In a blog post on Microsoft announcing the layoffs and discussing goals for the coming years, CEO Satya Nadella wrote, “When I think about this moment in time, the start of 2023, it’s showtime – for our industry and for Microsoft.”

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