Google is laying off employees in the development of Google Assistant and the augmented reality hardware team, as part of its ongoing expense reduction efforts. The affected employees have received notifications and can apply for other open positions within Google. The Alphabet Workers Union, representing some Google employees, expresses disapproval of the Google layoffs.
Google Layoffs Begin Across Divisions
Late Wednesday, Google executed layoffs affecting hundreds of employees in various divisions, including engineering and services. The restructuring includes the knowledge and information product team, impacting voice-activated Google Assistant, and the Devices and Services PA (DSPA) team managing Pixel, Nest, and Fitbit hardware. With 182,000 employees as of September 30, 2023, the company confirmed the layoffs as part of organizational changes aimed at efficiency and resource alignment. A Google spokesperson stated that these adjustments are ongoing globally, involving role eliminations to prioritize significant product objectives.
Google Streamlines Hardware Teams and Leadership Amidst Restructuring
Bloomberg reports that this round of Google layoffs is targetting employees in the development of Google Assistant, a voice-activated technology, and the augmented reality hardware team. Job cuts are also anticipated in the company’s central engineering organization, according to a statement from a Google spokesperson.
The spokesperson explained that, in the latter half of 2023, various teams underwent changes to enhance efficiency and align resources with top product priorities, with ongoing organizational changes worldwide that unfortunately include job cuts. In 2019, Google announced the acquisition of Fitbit for $2.1 billion, a process that took two years to pass regulatory approval and concluded in 2021. Since then, Google has integrated Fitbit products into its offerings, prompting Fitbit users to migrate to Google accounts in the past year.
Google Infused AI-Powered Features into Assistant Amidst Expansive Efforts
Last year, Google incorporated AI-powered features into Google Assistant through Bard, aiming to extend Assistant capabilities “beyond voice.” During the Pixel event in October, Google highlighted Assistant’s ability to navigate apps like Gmail and Drive, responding to queries related to specific emails and files.
The company underwent rolling layoffs in various teams last year, affecting the Waze mapping service in June, the recruiting team in September, and the news division in October. This latest company-wide layoff follows Google’s reduction of approximately 12,000 roles, or 6% of its workforce, in January 2023.