Another round of layoffs to see Google reduce headcount

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 11 Jan 2024
Google plans to eliminate a few hundred roles in 2024.
Google plans to eliminate a few hundred roles in 2024.

Alphabet's Google has become the latest technology company to announce further restructuring this year, with plans to lay off hundreds of employees across several business units.

According to Reuters, the Internet giant says it is reducing hundreds of employees working on its voice-activated Google Assistant software and is retrenching a similar number of roles in the company's devices and services team.

The layoffs at Google Assistant, are a part of organisational changes that have been in place since the second-half of 2023, it says.

Last January Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai announced in an email sent to Google employees the global search engine would reduce its workforce by 12 000 roles, equivalent to 6% of its global workforce.

The restructuring included layoffs at the company's mapping app Waze.

This year, a few hundred roles are being eliminated in Google’s devices and services team, with the majority in the augmented reality hardware team, the company told Reuters.

"Throughout second-half of 2023, a number of our teams made changes to become more efficient and work better, and to align their resources to their biggest product priorities. Some teams are continuing to make these kinds of organisational changes, which include some role eliminations globally," a spokesperson told Reuters in a statement.

The co-founders of health and fitness tracking company Fitbit, James Park and Eric Friedman will also be leaving the company, it said.

Google bought Fitbit for $2.1 billion in 2021 but has continued to roll out new versions of its Pixel Watch, a product that competes with some of Fitbit's devices and also the Apple Watch.

According to Reuters, the spokesperson did not specify the number of roles being impacted.

The restructuring comes at a time when Google and other tech firms are betting on generative artificial intelligence to gain competitive advantage.

Last year the company introduced Bard, a generative AI chatbot which has since been upgraded to perform advanced tasks, such as coding and math, classification and question answering, translation and multilingual proficiency, among others.