Google has initiated a round of layoffs affecting hundreds of employees across various teams as part of its ongoing cost-cutting efforts. Alongside the layoffs, the co-founders of Fitbit, James Park, and Eric Friedman, who joined Google after its acquisition of Fitbit in 2021, are leaving the company.
The impacted areas include the voice assistant unit, where hundreds of positions are being eliminated. The hardware team responsible for Pixel, Nest, and Fitbit is also affected, with a focus on the augmented reality (AR) team. The central engineering team is witnessing layoffs affecting hundreds of roles. The exact number of affected roles has not been disclosed.
Google purchased Fitbit for $2.1 billion in 2021, but the recent layoffs suggest a reevaluation of resources and organisational changes. The company mentions ongoing efforts to become more efficient, align resources with product priorities, and streamline operations.
This move comes in the context of the broader tech industry’s exploration and investment in generative artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Google had previously expressed plans to integrate generative AI capabilities into its virtual assistant, designed to enhance task efficiency by suggesting follow-up actions and asking relevant questions.
In addition to these changes, Google continues its broader workforce reduction initiated in January 2023, where Alphabet, Google’s parent company, announced intentions to cut 12,000 positions, constituting 6% of its global staff. As of September 2023, Alphabet’s global employee count was 182,381.
The precise details of the organisational restructuring and the impact on specific teams and projects are not fully disclosed.