back to article Google dumps 12,000 employees after project probe

Google is to lay off 12,000 employees amid something of a pandemic reckoning for technology companies that recruited heavily in recent years and are now facing harsh realities of a cooling economy. In an email sent to employees today, Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and its parent Alphabet, said: “Over the past two years we’ve …

  1. Potemkine! Silver badge

    A profit of $17,135,000,000 only in a quarter? Yeah, it's a good reason to fire people.

    And firing people will boost the economy. Wait...

    1. Mr.Nobody

      It will absolutely raise the stock price.

      1. sabroni Silver badge

        re: It will absolutely raise the stock price.

        And that should tell you all you need to know about the "stock market".

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What [insert tech co name here] we can do better

    or words to that effect.

    I guess that like many other tech CEO's, Google boss wants a new island/country/jet/mega-yacht and the stock buybacks have not increased the share value enough for them to cash in their stock options to fund the purchase.

    Plus, Google is famous for starting projects, releasing them and then letting them die on the vine.

    If it wasn't for those stupid Captcha's I could block the few bits of google that aren't already firewalled off. Google is like MS, Facebook and especially Twatter, EVIL

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: What [insert tech co name here] we can do better

      And, most of the public companies have shareholders who expect profit growth and hence, either share price or dividend growth, all the time.

  3. Naselus

    "We hired for a different economic reality than the one we face today."

    I mean, you could just say 'We hired too many people by mistake', but then I guess that would involve admitting fault, where as this way you can pretend you were right to hire them and then the universe got it wrong by failing to match your expectations.

    1. pompurin

      Re: "We hired for a different economic reality than the one we face today."

      Every single fault in the world can be simplified to: "Our predictions were wrong".

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "We hired for a different economic reality than the one we face today."

      That mean from the CEO downwards they made a huge mistake, not being able to forecast with proper skills- or they hired people they really wouldn't need, or they are firing people they would need - so together mass layoffs they should resign for being incompetent.

      But we all know this is just the usual move to fatten share prices among decreasing revenues and nothing else. Which is all investors care for - company mismanagement is not important as long as you can earn enough playing Monopoly.

      1. Persona

        Re: "We hired for a different economic reality than the one we face today."

        No matter how good your skill set forecasts are just guesses. Sometimes they are right but often they aren't. Just as very few global CEO's were prescient enough in 2019 to predict the pandemic coming, working out what way things were going to go once it arrived was always going to be a guess too.

        1. nobody who matters

          Re: "We hired for a different economic reality than the one we face today."

          That isn't an excuse for their continued incompetence since ;)

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "We hired for a different economic reality than the one we face today."

          But there are people who guesses better - if you hired 10,000 workers more than you needed you spent a lot of money wrongly. If you fire 10,000 workers you need you're going to jeopardize projects. Maybe you couldn't forecast a pandemic (but there has been many hint one could happen) - but you could forecast it would end and won't last forever. Putin was not so difficult to forecast since 2008 - the fact that Merkel & C. have been morons unable to look beyond their nose (and wallet) is not a great excuse. Why pay CEOs millions if their guesses are the same of the average people? Aren't they paid so much because they are better at running a business? They just show they can just look at the next quarter only.

          Now all they can do is going around chanting "AI! AI! AI!" just like they did before with the fashion du jour. How long has been Google delivered something new and interesting - developed at Google?

          1. Richard 12 Silver badge

            Re: "We hired for a different economic reality than the one we face today."

            There's been several new and interesting things developed at Google recently.

            They've all been cancelled, though.

            1. SundogUK Silver badge

              Re: "We hired for a different economic reality than the one we face today."

              "new and interesting" <> profitable.

          2. DS999 Silver badge

            Re: "We hired for a different economic reality than the one we face today."

            They accelerated their hiring AFTER the pandemic hit.

            Lots of tech companies did, because after the initial hit stock prices surged because lots of money was being spent on tech for remote working, remote schooling, etc. It doesn't take a genius to see that even if some of that persisted that surge in spending wouldn't (i.e. once you have bought laptops for all your employees/students they won't need new ones for several years) but too many companies took it as a green light for going on a hiring spree.

            I saw an article yesterday saying that Apple was the only big tech company to buck that trend and hired at the same rate since the pandemic hit as they had before it. Probably no coincidence they are also the only big tech company that hasn't announced big layoffs.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "We hired for a different economic reality than the one we face today."

              In reminds me somewhat of the dot-com blind optimism, which was never going to end.

        3. Blank Reg

          Re: "We hired for a different economic reality than the one we face today."

          Sure no forecast is guaranteed, but the current situation was not hard to predict. And I'm sure they have armies of analysts trying to figure out where things are going.

    3. SundogUK Silver badge

      Re: "We hired for a different economic reality than the one we face today."

      I don't think there is a single human being in the entire universe who didn't read that as 'We fucked up.'

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    50% more staff in 3 years

    Methinks coolaid was involved...

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: 50% more staff in 3 years

      Well there are all those new words to search for each year, it's all the fault of the liberal college-dictionary complex.

      If we were sensible and got rid of words beginning with Q we could cut 1/26 of their workforce

  5. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Competition

    Many big organisations over-hire so that they can deprive competition and potential competition of talent.

    Had many mates hired by such orgs who were basically doing nothing or just tinkering with internal projects that nobody was using.

    If you ensure that you get a clause that you can't work for other companies off the contract, it can be a nice deal. You can work on your own stuff or do odd contracts while not having to worry about money coming in.

    Caveat is that if they actually need you, then you have to drop everything you are doing and jump in.

    1. Insert sadsack pun here

      Re: Competition

      Just in case any big orgs are reading this: feel free to hire me at a vast wage to do nothing as part of your scheme to deprive competitors of my "talent"...

      1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

        Own Goal

        I'm the kind of person they leave in the market so that their competitors hire me and ruin their chances...

      2. spuck

        Re: Competition

        I'd also like to offer my services to these companies. I will work for 10% less of whatever you're paying him, but I reserve the right to "work" from home on Fridays

        1. darklord
          Happy

          Re: Competition

          or work for 20% less and take friday off anyway would be better

      3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Competition

        But do you have an impressive resume showing your history of doing nothing ?

    2. DevOpsTimothyC

      Re: Competition

      The non-compete clauses are typically unenforceable

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Competition

        Especially if you make somebody redundant claiming that you have no use for their particular skills

      2. Insert sadsack pun here

        Re: Competition

        "The non-compete clauses are typically unenforceable"

        Not really talking about post-employment non-compete clauses here - more about employing people to keep them off the market

  6. pimppetgaeghsr

    12 years of cheap capital and stock buybacks may have inflated CEOs earnings and boosted stock which for some bizarre reason was the main aspect of their perceived performance. 6 months of moderate interest rates and all of that goes up in flames.

    Sounds like these interest rates are having the desired affect and the bottom line matters again.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes, allowing capital i.e. share price growth be the primary return has created incredibly perverse incentives for management and shareholders alike.

      It is probably a significant contributor to the fall in western economic productivity over the last 20-30 years.

      If you payout actual dividends from a company (like in the old days), then unless you are making an actual profit, you go bust in a short period of time. Executive pay is coming straight out of profits to the shareholders (so they get shitty when it goes too high). Chickens come home to roost quickly.

      Once you return "profit" by inflating the share price, that profit is no longer directly coming from trading at a profit.

      It is coming from persuading new buyers to pay more for shares than the previous buyers did.

      i.e. it is not money coming from the company trading profitably.

      The shareholders no longer care how big executive remuneration is, as long as it is from shares (i.e. being paid by someone else)

      Executives are now focused on conning new share buyers.

      i.e. what might be a legitimate business has turned into a ponzi scheme.

      Businesses have incentive to become bigger so the shares are "worth more" instead of being the size that creates the best trading profit, and paying out dividends. Being less and less profitable, they become increasingly anti-competitive.

      And voila, here we are.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Every word the truth.

      2. Blank Reg

        The problem with dividends is that the ultra rich don't like them. If they were paid dividends then they would have to pay taxes. instead they borrow against the value of their shares and therefore have no income and no taxes.

        But that was when interest rates were stupidly low, now that they are approaching normal everything will change. The house of cards built on free money is in trouble, that's why you see some rich people whining about the "high" interest rates when in fact in most countries they are at the low end of normal.

        1. NeilPost

          Maybe some sort of equivalent of the UK’s Capital Gains Tax is required in the US … though the GOP would obstruct its progress through houses.

          https://www.gov.uk/tax-sell-shares

          The rich don’t like that either.

          1. Blank Reg

            Capital gains would only apply if they sell shares. if you take out a loan with your shares as collateral then you will pay no tax as there is no capital gains and no income

  7. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    It's a good time to let the chaff go

    Lots of tech companies hoovered up people over the last two years. Fair enough to take stock and let some go, but also a good opportunity to poach talent from competitors: cheaper now than next year.

    1. Ace2 Silver badge

      Re: It's a good time to let the chaff go

      Totally. A small fraction of what they’ve hired in the last two years. “Headcount now up only 45% over 2020!”

  8. chivo243 Silver badge
    Trollface

    For the remaining plebs

    Work harder! We have standards to break...

  9. trevorde Silver badge

    Someone is conspicuously absent

    IBM

    1. talk_is_cheap

      Re: Someone is conspicuously absent

      They have not suffered from growth for many years and so are unlikely to have overhired - just overpaid for businesses that they have purchased.

      IBM Annual Revenue

      (Millions of US $)

      2021 $57,350

      2020 $55,179

      2019 $57,714

      2018 $79,591

      2017 $79,139

      2016 $79,919

      2015 $81,741

      2014 $92,793

      2013 $98,367

      2012 $102,874

      2011 $106,916

      2010 $99,870

      2009 $95,758

      https://www.macrotrends.net/stocks/charts/IBM/ibm/revenue

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Someone is conspicuously absent

      So are Alta Vista and Ask Jeeves....

  10. Bbuckley

    Is it just me or are we witnessing a historical event here. So-called 'FAANG' companies who used to be the private equivalent of job-for-life public service are letting people go! - people who performed like good little monkeys and jumped through the nerd equivalent of SAS Who Dares Wins to become the Google Golden-haired Children are BEING FIRED. And for nothing that is their fault. Wow. End of an era methinks. Thank God I am a nearly-60 year old bastard from the gutter who saved his pennies!

  11. Version 1.0 Silver badge
    Terminator

    Working from Home might have a big advantage

    If you are handling a lot of phone calls, or writing software, documentation, handling sales and accounts then working from Home is possible if we change the corporate environment (that's essential). And while this would be a big change for everyone, it would reduce the amount of carbon released these days as everyone travels to and from work; and work keeps a building running 24*365 hours a year. Let's try getting this working by making all the politicians and parliament workers start by working from home - it would be a good evaluation test, teaching us what works and what needs to be organized and letting us measure the potential carbon emission reduction level.

    I think that this has the potential to employ a lot more people all the time although everyone would probably get paid a little less; but everyone would have to spend less money to get to work and home again too.

    1. Insert sadsack pun here

      Re: Working from Home might have a big advantage

      "Let's try getting this working by making all the politicians and parliament workers start by working from home"

      MPs have always worked in hybrid mode - part of the week in Westminster, part of the week in the constituency (and for some, part of the week "consulting" private equity firms and other dubious organisations).

    2. The Dark Side Of The Mind (TDSOTM)

      Re: Working from Home might have a big advantage

      The advantage might be less than one expects, as office buildings often have more efficient HVAC and lighting than average household can afford these days. Also, a lot of trades involve expensive specialized equipment that can't be easily and/or securely lugged to employee's home.

      Sure, for plain administrative tasks, working from home *can* be an option, but the reduction on emissions argument must factor in the impact of energy consumption and utilities at the residential level. That would make an interesting study.

    3. SundogUK Silver badge

      Re: Working from Home might have a big advantage

      This is not how the world works.

  12. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge
    WTF?

    "As an almost 25-year-old-company..."

    Google's been around that long?!?

    Man, now I feel old :-(

    1. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

      Remember when enormous ad-driven companies practically controlled the online world and they couldn't possibly fail? Yahoo remembers.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'economic reality'

    in research terminology aka 'metoo'

  14. Howard Sway Silver badge

    Merry-go-round

    Maybe Google laid off 10000 staff because there were now 10000 ex-Twitter employees available and they fancied yet another attempt at building a social network. Those 10000 ex-Google employees could then be hired by Microsoft for another go at building a search engine, displacing 10000 MS employees who could them go to Amazon and replace the 10000 they'd just fired in order to bring their Azure chops to AWS. Meanwhile the 10000 ex-Amazon employees would get snapped up by Facebook to build an online marketplace for them, due to Zuckerburg having just canned 10000 jobs, which would mean that there were now 10000 new ex-Facebook social media experts available to be hired by Twitter to sort out the huge fuck up caused by canning 10000 staff.

    1. Ace2 Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Merry-go-round

      This is brilliant.

  15. PhilipN Silver badge

    ..but then we 'ad it tuff

    New York Times sub-heading :

    The industry’s recent job cuts have been an awakening for a generation of workers who have never experienced a cyclical crash.

  16. ecofeco Silver badge
    Joke

    Was it cryptocoin?

    I'll bet it was cryptocoin.

    (it's a joke, Francis)

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google

    Do nothing, just do nothing.

  18. Mayday
    Devil

    To work at Google, and not work and Google:

    To work:

    Initial TA screen + 4 x interviews + take home assignment + Some other screening

    2-3 month process

    To not work:

    Logins cancelled without notice or being informed beforehand

  19. sabroni Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Stop paying so much money to the people who do the work!

    There's leeches here that need a dividend!!

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