Is Google CEO Sundar Pichai Planning on Layoffs?

Earlier this week, Google CEO Sundar Pichai suggested he wanted to make the search-engine giant 20 percent more efficient—and hinted that could mean a reduction in headcount.

“Across everything we do, we can be slower to make decisions,” he told the audience at the Code Conference in Los Angeles, according to CNBC. “You look at it end-to-end and figure out how to make the company 20 percent more productive.”

What kinds of actions will result in that kind of productivity boost? “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 by 20 percent,” he added.

Like many CEOs in tech, Pichai always has an eye on the economy. Widespread fear of a recession has dampened the ad and consumer spending that helps power Google’s bottom line. In addition to initiating an extended hiring freeze, Pichai has launched a “simplicity sprint” designed to improve the company’s efficiency and focus. “It’s clear we are facing a challenging macro environment with more uncertainty ahead,” he reportedly told employees in early August. “There are real concerns that our productivity as a whole is not where it needs to be for the head count we have.”

Pichai has also asked Google employees to offer up ideas for better product development, team workflow, product quality, and other critical areas. That’s in addition to a generalized focus on morale, centered on a new internal performance review system that will give employees a better shot at advancement and career development. (According to The Information, 47 percent of Google employees disliked the old performance review system, which featured two evaluations per year.)

Will Pichai actually turn to layoffs? That remains to be seen. Some tech companies that depend on ad revenue have recently cut back staff, most notably Snap, which plans on laying off 20 percent of its workforce. However, Pichai is also keenly aware of the impact of layoffs on morale.  

4 Responses to “Is Google CEO Sundar Pichai Planning on Layoffs?”

  1. Jake_Leone

    The problem with Google, is Google’s upper management, not Google’s engineering staff.
    Google, is slow to implement a platform, that’s an upper management problem.
    Right now, Google has a superior image generator (better than Dall-E and MidJourney). But Google’s management is failing to create a platform for that capability.
    Much like, Google failed to create:
    – A viable Social Network platform
    – A viable self-driving car platform

    The ability to generate imagery, is just one-step away from doing animation. Adding in voice. And you will have created the ultimate content generation platform. And then the ultimate robotic voice command platform.

    Google, is completely, 100% failing to capitalize on that capability, once again.
    Someone else will. And they will use it as a threat to YouTube. Google will fail to see this threat, Google will instead attempt to acquire the platform or wait for some other company (with similar dead, sluggish management) acquires it, hoping it just goes away.

    That might not happen. That new company might become a huge media company with delusions of becoming a better social network, even a Meta killer.
    If you don’t see that by examining Google’s history, you can surely see that if the only new idea from Google management, is to cut back on workforce. That’s a sure sign, there are ZERO new ideas coming from management at Google.
    And any great ideas, currently at Google, are being squashed. Google has mothballed their image generator, presumable on moral grounds. (no one else is doing this, why is Google wasting another platform opportunity?) But literally, this is a sign of a company unwilling to take on any new risks.
    The Text/diffusion image generators are the 1st step in creating a new interface. An interface that is at the INTERSECTION of TECH AND THE ARTS. That intersection, has always been the start of a new generation of user-oriented, better, platforms, that has the potential to create TrillyCorns (from BillyCorns).
    But Google’s upper management doesn’t see it. Because Google has become a holding company, and is sluggish only because upper management has no new ideas.
    Look, Elon knows the way to do this is to create separate companies or independent subsidiaries that can issue their own stock. Steve Jobs knew this, and was willing to spend the money needed to develop the iphone (the current Apple CEO is devoid of such talent).
    Elon will be creating robots, robots that will have the ability to entertain you, and then sell you stuff. The Free Robot Era starts with Text/Diffusion -> to image generation. Which will evolve into Text->Plan robot automation.
    Google could pre-empt this, but won’t. Because the first step in this path, is creating a platform that can help users create content from nothing but their desires about what they want to see. From that, obviously, comes a better way to command robots.
    But current Apple, Meta, Microsoft, Amazon, Google management are incapable of seeing this path.

  2. Jake_Leone

    Google is having a Pythagorean moment on NLP Text-> image generation. Literally, this a moral fear.
    But remember this, every tech device is (and always has been) a KING KONG in waiting.
    Smart Phones and Twitter caused the failed Egyptian Spring. Leading to the death of thousands, in Egypt, Iran, and many other companies.
    Every new Tech device, is a KING KONG, and IS IMMORAL, because change is IMMORAL.
    It is IMMORAL to give the clueless better tech. Because someone will alway shove it such a way that it kills them or someone else.
    But that is the human condition.
    The only way to increase the standard of living, in an egalitarian manner, is with technological innovation. Otherwise, wealth and privilege (born or Royal and lesser Mafia) is what prevails.
    The Gun, Books, and Ships are all immoral. They led to the death of millions of natives. They strayed the devout towards heretical ideas. They were used to initially repress Scotsmen.
    So get real, if you dabble in tech, you dance with the Kong.
    If you stop dancing with the Kong, you become a relic and you start killing to preserve the status quo.
    Killing ideas, killing dissemination of ideas, where you burn books, you will eventually burn people.
    Being a neo Pythagorean morality movement in Big Tech is a mistake, Dance with the Kong (you will at least learn some knew moves).

  3. Jake_Leone

    Google make 1.65 million dollars in revenue, per employee. And Sundar Pichai has the Gaul to say

    “There are real concerns that our productivity as a whole is not where it needs to be for the head count we have.”

    What a complete snow job. The reality, Sundar Pichai is actually worried that a recession will limit Sundar Pichai’s ability to get a huge cash and stock bonus. That’s all this is about.

    He heard the now highly touted meme that other companies are planning layoffs, he has to (at least) keep up with the Joneses, irregardless of how idiotic such a no-thinking, selfish, reactionary plan of hey let’s just lay off a bunch of people. Oh, and hey (all you employees), if you have any ideas about something to improve revenue or efficiency, I’d like to hear them. (Because I haven’t got a clue, and I would like you to do my thinking for me, that’s what we pay you for, basically do my job, I have ZERO leadership capability, and I am right they with all neo pythagoreans, better to not act and collect dollars from the existing cash cows, while paying lip-service to the BOD (who also have no ideas)).

  4. Jon Sanchez

    Because Sundar Pichai has perpetuated or possibly created, a machine to mothball ideas , and perhaps really doesn’t understand the technology his company creates, and possibly doesn’t understand math. A possible solution would be to take his advice and fire people . Because he has zero leadership capabilities, We could start with Sundar Pichai. 20% efficiency achieved.