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Google joins tech cull by cutting 12,000 staff

Search giant Google has announced plans to make 12,000 redundancies, heaping further misery on tech sector workers.

According to this SEC filing, CEO Sundar Pichai circulated the bad news among employees on Friday, saying he was “deeply sorry” to have to have cut “incredibly talented people we worked hard to hire and have loved working with.”

As has become evident over the last few months, tech hiring expanded rapidly during the pandemic, as the sector convinced itself that it would precipitate a permanent shift in consumer and business behaviour to doing everything online and from home. That has since proven not to be the case though, and – coupled with the prospect of a slowing economy – big tech has been forced to make cutbacks.

“Over the past two years we’ve seen periods of dramatic growth. To match and fuel that growth, we hired for a different economic reality than the one we face today,” said Pichai. “As an almost 25-year-old company, we’re bound to go through difficult economic cycles. These are important moments to sharpen our focus, re-engineer our cost base, and direct our talent and capital to our highest priorities.”

As for where these ex-staff will work next, their options might be limited given Google’s peers are also wielding the axe. Last week, Microsoft followed Amazon and Facebook parent Meta in announcing mass lay-offs; it will axe 10,000 staff this year. According to Windows Central, the software giant has made sweeping cuts to its mixed and virtual reality divisions, while Bloomberg reported that the lay-offs will also hit hard at its video game unit. Lastly Spotify has just announced a 6% cull across the company.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said last week that redundancies were an unfortunate but necessary part of navigating the “unforgiving” tech sector. For Google, ‘ungrateful’ could be a more apt description, judging by some anecdotal evidence.

According to this LinkedIn post, Google research scientist Daniel Russell, who joined the company in 2005 and whose 40-year career includes senior roles at some of the biggest names in tech – including Apple, IBM and Xerox – found out he’d been laid off when he showed up to work and his badge didn’t work. A similar experience was shared – also on LinkedIn – by Justin Moore, who joined the search giant in 2006 and most recently worked as a software engineering manager. Charming.

Meanwhile, one tech giant seems to be coping with the uncertainty a lot better than its rivals.

Apple has yet to announce mass redundancies and at the time of writing, there is nothing to suggest it is planning a cull. Instead, as Bloomberg reported in November, the iPhone maker has imposed a hiring freeze in all but a few areas of the company, as it braces for a slowdown in spending. And, as this CNN report on Sunday highlighted, compared to other big tech players, Apple didn’t get quite so carried away with hiring new staff during the pandemic.

 

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