Google Implements Substantial Workforce Changes, Including Key Leadership Departures

Alphabet’s Google announced that it is undertaking a significant restructuring effort that includes laying off hundreds of employees across various teams. The shake-up extends to high-profile exits, with Fitbit co-founders James Park and Eric Friedman also departing the company. This move is part of Google’s ongoing cost-cutting measures and strategic realignment.
Google Android IndiaThe restructuring includes substantial layoffs in the Voice Assistant unit, with hundreds of roles being eliminated. Additionally, the hardware team, responsible for products such as Pixel, Nest, and Fitbit, is undergoing a reduction in workforce.

The augmented reality (AR) team is particularly affected, with a majority of its members facing job cuts. The central engineering team, a crucial part of Google’s operations, is also witnessing the impact of this organizational shift.

Google acquired health and fitness tracking company Fitbit for $2.1 billion in 2021. Despite this, the company has continued to invest in its Pixel Watch, a product that competes with Fitbit’s devices and Apple Watch.

A spokesperson for Google told Reuters in a statement, “Throughout the second half of 2023, a number of our teams made changes to become more efficient and work better, aligning their resources with their most significant product priorities. Some teams are continuing to make these kinds of organizational changes, which include some role eliminations globally.”

The spokesperson did not specify the exact number of roles affected by these changes. The restructuring is occurring against the backdrop of a broader industry trend where companies like Microsoft and Google are focusing on the growing adoption of generative artificial intelligence (AI) technology, following the success of OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

Last year, Google unveiled plans to integrate generative AI capabilities into its virtual assistant, aiming to enhance its functionalities, such as helping users plan trips or catch up on emails with the ability to ask follow-up questions.

In January 2023, Alphabet, Google’s parent company, announced intentions to cut 12,000 jobs, equivalent to 6 percent of its global workforce. As of September 2023, Alphabet employed 182,381 individuals globally. The recent restructuring suggests ongoing efforts by Google to optimize its workforce and streamline operations in response to evolving industry trends and business priorities.