LONDON (AP) – Google is laying off 12,000 employees, or about 6% of its workforce, becoming the latest tech company to lay off staff as the economic boom the industry experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic wanes.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who also heads parent company Alphabet, informed the Silicon Valley giant’s employees about the cuts in an email on Friday, which was also published on the company’s news blog.
It’s one of the company’s biggest rounds of layoffs ever, and comes on top of tens of thousands of other job losses recently announced by Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook parent Meta and other tech companies as they tighten their belts amid the darkening outlook for the industry . This month alone, major companies in the industry have announced at least 48,000 job cuts.
“In the last two years we have experienced periods of dramatic growth,” Pichai wrote. “To accommodate and drive that growth, we hired for a different economic reality than the one we face today.”
He said the layoffs reflect a “rigorous review” Google has conducted of its operations.
The positions being eliminated “run across Alphabet, product areas, functions, tiers and regions,” Pichai said. He said he “deeply regrets” the layoffs.
Regulatory filings illustrate how Google’s workforce has grown during the pandemic, growing from 119,000 at the end of 2019 to almost 187,000 at the end of last year.
Pichai said that Google, which was founded nearly a quarter century ago, “has been going through difficult economic cycles.”
“These are important moments to sharpen our focus, reshape our cost base, and direct our talent and capital toward our highest priorities,” he wrote. He cited the company’s investments in artificial intelligence as an area of opportunity.
According to Pichai’s letter, there will be job cuts in the US and other unspecified countries.
The tech industry has been forced to freeze hiring and cut jobs “as the clock chimes midnight on hypergrowth and headwinds loom for digital advertising,” Wedbush Securities analysts Dan Ives, Taz Koujalgi and John Katsingris wrote on Friday.
Just this week, Microsoft announced it would cut 10,000 jobs, or almost 5% of its workforce. Amazon said this month it is shedding 18,000 jobs, though that’s just a fraction of its 1.5 million-strong workforce, while enterprise software maker Salesforce is shedding about 8,000 employees, or 10% of the total. Last fall, Facebook parent company Meta announced it would cut 11,000 jobs, or 13% of its workforce. Elon Musk has cut jobs at Twitter after acquiring the social media company last fall.
These job cuts also affect smaller players. British cybersecurity company Sophos laid off 450 employees, or 10% of its global workforce. Cryptocurrency trading platform Coinbase shed 20% of its workforce, about 950 jobs, in its second round of layoffs in less than a year.
“Setting the stage: Tech names across the board are cutting costs to preserve margins and get leaner,” Wedbush analysts said in the current economic climate.
US employment was resilient despite signs of a slowing economy, with an additional 223,000 jobs added in December. Still, the tech sector has grown exceptionally fast in recent years due to increased demand as employees started to work remotely.
CEOs of a number of companies have taken the blame for growing too quickly, but even after recent job cuts, these same companies remain much larger than they were before the pandemic’s economic boom began.
In their layoff announcements, both Pichai and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella stressed the importance of capitalizing on their advances in artificial intelligence technology, reflecting renewed competition between the tech giants fueled by Microsoft’s growing partnership with the startup OpenAI from San Francisco was triggered.