Sundar Pichai’s “ambitious goals” for Google in 2024 rest on yet more layoffs as firm cuts hundreds of jobs

Google CEO Sundar Pichai departs following a Senate bipartisan Artificial Intelligence (AI) Insight Forum on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, US, on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023.
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Google CEO Sundar Pichai has told staff to expect more job cuts amid a concerted effort to “drive velocity” at the tech giant across 2024.

In an internal memo distributed to staff, and seen by The Verge, Pichai said the layoffs will enable the tech giant to cut expenditures and support its goals for the year ahead.

“We have ambitious goals and will be investing in our big priorities this year,” the memo reads. “The reality is that to create the capacity for this investment, we have to make tough choices”.

The current cost-cutting measures are aimed primarily at “removing layers to simplify execution and drive velocity in some areas”, Pichai told staff.

The announcement comes just days after the company announced a fresh wave of layoffs.

Google confirmed more than 1,000 staff would be let go from the firm late last week, with workers spanning several divisions – including its voice assistant unit and staff in its Pixel and Fitbit segments – affected by the move.

For staff concerned about a pending torrent of job losses, Pichai noted that the current drive to reduce numbers won’t be on the scale of last year’s spate of layoffs.

“These role eliminations are not at the scale of last year’s reductions, and will not touch every team,” he said. “But I know it’s very difficult to see colleagues and teams impacted”.

Pichai’s attempts to calm worker fears will offer little solace for those who could be impacted, however. It’s been a challenging 12 months for staff at the firm, who were first rocked with a round of cuts in January 2023.

The tech giant announced it would cut 12,000 roles spanning multiple departments, equivalent to roughly 6% of its global workforce.

The company said deteriorating economic conditions and a period of over-hiring across 2021 and 2022 were key factors in the decision.

With a 6% reduction in its workforce, these cuts were among the largest during the flurry of layoffs during early 2023 - particularly compared to direct competitors.

Microsoft and Amazon, both of which also announced job losses in January, cut the equivalent of 5% and 3% respectively.

Google is prioritizing AI at any cost

Despite mass cuts, the tech giant pursued a highly aggressive investment strategy in a bid to ramp up generative AI innovation across 2023. 

Google was caught off-guard by Microsoft in late 2022 during the early days of the generative AI 'boom', prompting it to rapidly pivot to focus on the technology.

In December last year, the company was reportedly in a state of 'code red' and upended internal teams to focus on AI development to keep pace with Microsoft.


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Since then, the company has unveiled a host of new AI-powered products and services, culminating in the launch of its flagship ‘Gemini’ AI model in early December, which it has positioned as a direct competitor to OpenAI’s GPT-4 model.

Revenue figures at the company also stabilized after what was a challenging period in 2022. In Q3 2023, the company recorded a return to double-digit growth while earnings in its advertising segment also bounced back.

Google’s razor-sharp focus on AI has also been the source of some layoffs already, with hundreds of employees cut from its ad sales team.

The majority of these have been in the “Large Customer Sales” team, which works with the tech giant’s largest advertising clients.

A report from The Information in December 2023 said that a portion of staff were cut from the division or reassigned due to certain roles being replaced by AI.

Ross Kelly
News and Analysis Editor

Ross Kelly is ITPro's News & Analysis Editor, responsible for leading the brand's news output and in-depth reporting on the latest stories from across the business technology landscape. Ross was previously a Staff Writer, during which time he developed a keen interest in cyber security, business leadership, and emerging technologies.

He graduated from Edinburgh Napier University in 2016 with a BA (Hons) in Journalism, and joined ITPro in 2022 after four years working in technology conference research.

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