Google executives defended the biggest round of layoffs in the company’s history and took questions from worried employees during a town hall meeting on January 23. The meeting was led by CEO Sundar Pichai, who promised executives would take a bonus cut, CNBC reported.
Employees removed ‘without warning’
Pichai pleaded with the remaining employees to stay motivated. He said:
I understand you are worried about what comes next for your work. The loss of some really good colleagues across the company is really sad. For those of you outside the US, the delay in being able to make and communicate decisions about roles in your region is undoubtedly causing anxiety.
Google cut 12k jobs
On Friday, the company announced it would cut 12,000 jobs, which is around 6% of full-time staff. Employees had known about the potential layoffs, but wanted answers about what criteria were applied to determine who would go and who would stay. Some of the employees who lost their jobs had recently been promoted or had long tenures with the company.
Pichai said he consulted with the board of directors and founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page. He shared that 2021 had been a very strong year for Google and revenue increased by 41%. Pichai explained Google had assumed growth would persist.
Before the job cuts, the company had decided to pay out bonuses of 80% in January 2023, with the rest expected sometime in spring. Earlier, the bonus would be paid in full in January.
Google Cloud saw the most cuts
Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian explained his unit’s goal had been to focus hiring across the portfolio in response to generative AI. The cloud unit was among the most rapidly-growing areas with the highest number of new hires in 2021. That year, Google focused on catching up to Amazon and Microsoft.
Google’s CEO reminded employees of critical tasks ahead, especially considering dynamic progress in the area of AI. In December last year, Google staff members asked executives whether ChatGPT, the AI chatbot, was a “missed opportunity” for the company. Recently, Microsoft announced a multiyear, multimillion dollar investment in OpenAi, the platform that created ChatGPT.