Alphabet lays off hundreds from engineering, hardware, and digital assistant teams

Alphabet has confirmed that it has laid off hundreds of employees from several teams, including engineering and the teams responsible for its digital voice assistant and hardware products, including Fitbit wearable devices and Pixel smartphones.

“As we’ve said, we’re responsibly investing in our company’s biggest priorities and the significant opportunities ahead. To best position us for these opportunities, throughout the 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,” a company spokesperson said in a statement.

“Some teams are continuing to make these kinds of organizational changes, which include some role eliminations globally. We’re continuing to support any impacted employees as they look for new roles here at Google and beyond,” the spokesperson added.

The reorganization of the hardware teams will see a consolidation of different teams responsible for different devices, such as Nest, Pixel, and Fitbit, combined under a single team which will be responsible for all devices, the news portal reported, adding that the activity has also seen the departure of Fitbit co-founders James Park and Eric Friedman.

The layoffs have also drawn fresh criticism from the Alphabet Workers Union, which took to X to term the job reductions as “needless.”

Moreover, employees at Alphabet can expect more reduction in roles as the company plans to reorganize its 30,000-strong advertising sales team, The Information reported.

The report, which cites an employee of that team, claims that Alphabet will rely heavily on machine learning to automate advertising, thereby reducing the need for a large of employees on the advertisement sales teams.

2023’s trend of layoffs continues

The layoffs come at a time when Google and its parent Alphabet face stiff competition from Microsoft — especially in the field of generative AI — where Microsoft partner OpenAI is believed to be at the forefront with ChatGPT and its underlying large language models (LLMs)

However, this is not the first time that employees across Alphabet’s different businesses faced the axe.  

In January 2023, the company downsized its workforce by 6%, leading to a reduction of 12,000 roles. The layoffs were followed by letters from investors seeking more job cuts.

In the same month, Intrinsic AI, which is part of Alphabet’s “Other Bets” division, eliminated about 20% of its workforce or roughly 40 employees.

Alphabet and its employees have been under pressure to generate more revenue since July 2022 when the company declared a hiring freeze.

The freeze was followed by the launch of the Simplicity Sprint program to boost staff efficiency and productivity as the company posted weaker-than-expected revenue for two consecutive quarters.

In September last year, the company let go of hundreds of employees from its recruiting team in continuation of its efforts to operate more efficiently as macroeconomic uncertainty looms.

The company, which faces stiff competition from Microsoft, AWS, IBM, and Oracle in the field of generative AI and artificial intelligence, had then said that it was looking to trade non-technical roles for engineering and technical talent.

Several large technology companies including Meta, Amazon, IBM, SAP, Cisco, and Salesforce have also had to bear the brunt of layoffs across 2022 and 2023, especially due to mounting pressure from an uncertain economy and slowing revenue growth.

According to data compiled by, the online tracker keeping tabs on job losses in the technology sector, 1,186 tech companies have laid off about 262,682 staff in 2023, compared to 164,969 layoffs in 2022.

Another data compilation from the online tracker showed that at least 24 companies have laid off around 3,331 employees in the first two weeks of 2024. These companies include Amazon, Intel, ARM Holdings, Citirx, and Trend Micro.

Copyright © 2024 IDG Communications, Inc.


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