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Google's CEO Continues Hinting at Company Cuts

At a conference and in a leaked meeting recording, Sundar Pichai reportedly referenced simplifying the company, and aiming for 20% more "efficiency."

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In an onstage interview at Vox’s 2022 Code Conference, Google CEO Sundar Pichai referenced increasing company efficiency by cutting down on staff.
In an onstage interview at Vox’s 2022 Code Conference, Google CEO Sundar Pichai referenced increasing company efficiency by cutting down on staff.
Photo: Jerod Harris / Stringer (Getty Images)

Staff cuts and other changes may be coming to Google. Or, at least, that’s what CEO of Google and Alphabet Inc., Sundar Pichai, has made it sound like recently.

The executive said he hopes to make the company 20% more efficient and productive, at Vox Media’s Code Conference on Tuesday night, according to a report from CNBC. Separately, audio from an internal Google all-hands meeting on September 1 captured Pichai saying that Google is operating in a “challenging macroeconomic environment.” He added that employees should “think deeply about changes,” and that there’s a “need to simplify the company,” according to a report from Insider.

Google did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment. However, a company HR executive, Fiona Cicconi, said that Alphabet was “not currently looking to reduce Google’s overall workforce,” in a July all-hands meeting, according to CNBC. Though, she added the convenient qualifier that “we can’t be sure of the economy in the future.”

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The references to simplification aren’t new. In August, the CEO called on staff to implement a “Simplicity Sprint,” an initiative focused on getting “better results faster,” which left employees concerned that layoffs were on the horizon. And earlier, in July, Google announced a hiring slowdown, which the company later extended.

And all of this follows a disappointing second quarter for the company’s earnings. Alphabet’s reported revenue fell below predictions and revenue growth stalled to 13%, compared with 62% from during the same period in 2021.

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In the Code Conference interview with Kara Swisher, Pichai said he specifically plans to improve the company’s efficiency through combining products (as previously was done with YouTube Music and Google Play). Notably, he also offered an example about streamlining through staff cuts. “Sometimes there are areas to make progress [where] you have three people making decisions, understanding that and bringing it down to two or one improves efficiency,” he said, according to CNBC.

Meanwhile, Google employees seem less satisfied with their job growth and pay than in previous years, according to an annual employee survey.

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Google is just one of many tech companies feeling the downturn burn. Other heavy hitters to have instituted hiring freezes or layoffs over the past few months include Meta, Apple, TikTok, and Snapchat.