back to article Python, Flutter teams latest on the Google chopping block

Google's latest round of layoffs have hit engineers working on its Flutter and Python teams. Despite Alphabet last week reporting a 57 percent year-on-year jump in net profit to $23.66 billion for calendar Q1, more roles are being expunged as the mega-corp cracks down on costs. The Python team is reportedly affected and an …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    It's incredible

    It is incredible how Google continues, year after year, to axe useful projects while making more and more billions, and yet cost-cutting is the name of the game.

    And everyone who used the products that are being disemboweled somehow still haven't got the message : Google is not there to make your life better, it is there to make PROFITS.

    Stop using its products. Stop validating this behavior by looking at the next new tool and saying "oh, I could use that !".

    Just stay away from Google code. Google needs to be taught a lesson : when you're making all the money, you can afford to let projects continue.

    Either that, or be true to yourself, Google, and replace the Board every two years. Via shotgun.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > it is there to make PROFITS

      Look at Atos to see why profits are important. It is certainly better than nationalizing the company debts.

      Flutter once was a promising platform. But with HTMX becoming mainstream, and likely to be standardized and integrated into browsers, the complexity of object-oriented development becomes a liability, not an asset.

      1. Chris Gray 1
        FAIL

        Re: > it is there to make PROFITS

        HTMX? Never heard of it. Neither has Wikipedia. Good link?

        1. esherrill

          Re: > it is there to make PROFITS

          https://htmx.org/ - looks interesting.

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: > it is there to make PROFITS

            Ugh. Let's just make every element into XHR. Semantics are meaningless. Anything is everything. While we're at it, let's manipulate the DOM with sledgehammers like outerHTML.

            (Also, right on the htmx.org home page: "Why should only < a> & < form> be able to make HTTP requests?" Uh, IMG would like to have a word with your strawman. And IFRAME. SCRIPT, obviously; and of course attaching actions and listeners to elements. And admittedly-obsolete elements like OBJECT. And XHTML external entities. CSS font-face, among other things. Huh, maybe there's a reason why we don't want every fucking HTML element triggering requests.)

            As for "be[ing] standardized and integrated into browsers" — sure, that'll happen. Just as it happened with every previous flavor of the month. Hell, apparently we can't kill jQuery no matter what we do, but after nearly 18 years and its mold-like presence on 70%+ of "major websites" it's still not "standardized".

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              > can't kill jQuery

              jQuery motivated major standard changes. It was a good thing to happen by showing what is possible.

              >> Uh, IMG would like to have a word with your strawman. << Well, what if an element has its own state? You would still have to manage and keep the state somewhere. So why duplicate state management?

      2. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

        Re: > it is there to make PROFITS

        and yet they never cut the compensation of the ceo.

      3. Someone Else Silver badge

        Re: > it is there to make PROFITS

        [...] the complexity of object-oriented development becomes a liability, not an asset.

        Yeah, and I'll bet you struggle mightily with javascript, too.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's incredible

      If you take a step back, google successes and contributions to the industry don't size up to its revenues.

      GCP lags behind. Google missed the Gen AI revolution. Quite an issue for a search engine.

      Android, Mandiant and youtube successes were already guaranteed before their acquisition.

      Go and Kubernetes and the only few things that really stand out. Am I missing something, maybe?

      All they're good at is inflicting silly ads on people too illiterate to dodge them. That's unsustainable. My guess is that they will follow Yahoo and Altavista's fate sooner or later.

      1. Andy Non Silver badge

        Re: It's incredible

        "My guess is that they will follow Yahoo and Altavista's fate sooner or later."

        If the quality of their search results continues on its downward death spiral, then quite likely. If someone can manage to come up with a decent search engine that isn't an open sewer of dodgy adverts, scams and AI junk clickbait they just might nudge Google off their pedestal. One can hope anyway!

        1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

          Re: It's incredible

          Yes, we'd all like a good alternative to Google and Bing.

          How much would it cost for the datacenters and staff to implement this, and how would it be financed? Selling ads and personal data? Wouldn't this just be Google/Bing in another guise?

      2. aerogems Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: It's incredible

        The Google people remember died when it merged with DoubleClick. One of, if not the, scummiest company on the interwebs back then, it's rot has infested pretty much every aspect of Google by this point. It's been a long slow slide since then. Gmail was probably the last good thing Google ever did, and they've been hell bent on making that an unusable pile of dog shit for years.

      3. veti Silver badge

        Re: It's incredible

        "Missed the Gen AI revolution"? Google has been using "AI" in its search engine for >10 years. Not sure when it started, but parsing natural language search queries has certainly been their thing for longer than that.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: It's incredible

          Google acquired Deepmind ten years ago, and it was Google researchers who published "Attention is All You Need". OpenAI grabbed the spotlight by putting out the first transformer-based LLM, and there are a lot of researchers at OpenAI producing novel results, including well-known stuff like RLHF. But Google, specifically the Deepmind division, was there first; they just weren't chasing the headlines as avidly as OpenAI.

          Initially Google's public models, which were rushed out when people lost their minds over OpenAI's stuff, didn't perform particularly well, but now they're competitive. Rankings change all the time, and lately it's been Anthropic and OpenAI mostly fighting it out for the top, but Gemini Ultra had the top spot in the MMLU benchmark earlier this month, for example.

          Google Deepmind wasn't focused on gen-AI, so they've had some catching up to do. But to say they "missed the Gen AI revolution" (insofar as there is "Gen AI", and there has been a "revolution", both of which are debatable) is simply historically incorrect.

      4. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: It's incredible

        I haven't used either in anger, but I'd probably take Dart over Go. But that's largely personal preference, and it would depend on the use case.

        Google have done quite a bit to improve Internet security (ironically, considering their role in the surveillance economy). That's both stuff like P0, and feature work such as pushing Certificate Transparency. It's partly (partly) thanks to Google that PKIX has gone from absolute garbage to pretty much kind of useful much of the time.

        And Google R&D has produced some useful stuff. Yeah, Map/Reduce wasn't nearly as revolutionary as some people seemed to think (at its core, it's just what the functional-language folks had been pushing for decades), but it was a solid production implementation, and when you have a suitable workload, that's good. They're responsible for a bunch of practical results for highly-distributed systems, such as the Splinter algorithm.

        On the minus side, Google are responsible for popularizing AJAX.

    3. pdh

      Re: It's incredible

      > Google is not there to make your life better, it is there to make PROFITS

      Absolutely correct. Anyone who believes otherwise deserves what they get.

    4. abend0c4 Silver badge

      Re: It's incredible

      Google continues, year after year, to axe useful projects

      But, on the other hand, Dart and Flutter are under the hatchet too, so it's not entirely negative.

      1. Philo T Farnsworth

        Re: It's incredible

        Now, now. . .

        I spent a summer developing some small personal projects with Flutter and Dart, mostly as learning exercises, and found them to be very easy to work in. There were a few ideosyncracies I needed to wrap my head around but largely a pleasurable experience.

        What finally put me off doing a project for one of my clients in Flutter/Dart was the propensity for Google to introduce breaking changes into the Dart language (for admittedly largely good reasons, mind you). That turned my nice little applications into a horror show of error messages after I set them aside for a few months and then returned to add some enhancements.

        I just can't afford to spend hours, if not days, "fixing" already working code because the syntax changed underneath my feet. . .

        1. abend0c4 Silver badge

          Re: It's incredible

          Dart has belatedly transformed itself into something with potential but only by veering a long way from its original trajectory. However, I fear its potential is unlikely to be realised precisely because of its history of pivots and breaking changes. Flutter seems to me to be fundamentally misguided in trying to replicate the design and function of native UI elements and is damned to forever fall slightly short. Google seems to have a lot of projects that, despite clearly having competent people working on them, never seem to quite hit the target - or perhaps never to have had a target in the first place.

    5. TReko
      FAIL

      Goeing Boeing? Gone

      Google top brass are doing exactly what Boeing did - killing the engineering departments for the sake of short-term profit.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Goeing Boeing? Gone

        Came here to say basically the say thing. Article talks about engineers being "let go" but the Google PR flack says "while reducing bureaucracy and layers." Reality: tech people are going. Google: Middle managers and dead-weight are going. Who to believe? A tough one </sarc>

  2. spuck

    As for the Python team, the current positions have reportedly been "reduced" in favor of a new team based in Munich.

    I didn't see in the article any mention of where in the world the "reduced" positions were located, but any wagers on how this decision was based?

    Was it either:

    A) The team in Munich is so good, even though there will be a learning curve for this "new team" the project will continue to succeed.

    B) It's hard to fire people in Munich, so if we move this project there we can fire these at-will Americans instead.

    I'm too cynical...

  3. sarusa Silver badge
    Devil

    Well, makes sense

    They can deliberately ruin their search results (to make you click through more ads) faster with outsourcing.

  4. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

    When is Go getting the cut ?

    How long will Kubernetes last when Go is killed ?

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Go is open-source and has a large enough community that it can survive without Google. Someone would have to fund the module repository and checksum database, but there are organizations which could take that on.

      Dart might be large enough to survive, though as usual we have the problem of Too Many Programming Languages. They never really die (I'm sure there are people out there writing MUMPS and APL, and I know professional PL/I developers), but Dart might slip into obscurity as so many have before.

      Kubernetes would survive just fine without Google. There's money to be made in supporting Kubernetes.

      1. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

        Yes its open source, but a language is a big job, which is why there are so few comapred to all other open source libraries.

        Its considerably easier to write another shitty string pad library than it is to write a new language and all the other support that it needs.

  5. iced.lemonade

    subscription

    if google can have a subscription plan, maybe in a very affordable way, tagged to their developer software then it may be a win-win for developers and google, which the developers don't need to find a replacement every time google axes a development tool/language (or, much more infrequently), and google can have their development cost covered in a non-ad way.

    i honestly think dart/flutter, and a while ago, the GWT (google web toolkit, anyone use it anymore?) and some other smaller tools that google developers are good in some aspects.

    if they start charging a nominal fee for dart/flutter or even golang/kubernetes/etc. then maybe their tools will be available in a healthier lifecycle, and not being killed when they just reached a level of maturity when it is more or less comfortable (less bugs...) and usable (in terms of the ecosystem like plug-ins) to be used in projects larger than toy-scale ones.

    1. katrinab Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: subscription

      Google kills paid-for services as well though.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The undebuggable scourge

      google web toolkit, anyone use it anymore?

      When java programmers thought they could avoid learning JS and CSS.

      1. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

        Re: The undebuggable scourge

        GWT is not about avoiding the need to learn, its about code reuse and tools. Javascript is a horror the larger the code basegets refactoring of any kind becomes impossible/difficult.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You weren’t an employee, you were a layer

    Bye. Corporate HR-Speak is really revolting.

    1. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

      Re: You weren’t an employee, you were a layer

      WHAT

      You dont love the new corporate speak about Company Culture and CEO approval ?

      Who gives a flying fuck about any ceo , and why would any of the 100s or 1000s at a company approve a person they have never met or have any reason to approve?

      Everywhere you go these days indeed.com/ google / glassdoor etc they try and promote how wonderful or glorious the ceo is and expand the cult of the ceo.

  7. veti Silver badge

    Look on the bright side here

    When a company is flailing about as much as Google is, it's far from a bad thing to be fired from it. Gives you the chance - the kick up the backside - to find a job with a company that may have a serious future.

    At the moment, it's still a respectable thing to have on your resume. Stay there another five years, and that may not be true any more.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Look on the bright side here

      Middle Manager: "I've got bad news..."

      Techie: "I'm ready, let's have it" <smirk/>

      Middle Manager: "You're let go [...wrapped into 5mn of BS... then... severance package...]"

      Techie thinking... <cool...now I can follow this cybersec/AI/cloud/rust training at last and get a real job>

      Techie: "OK, and the bad news?"

      Middle Manager: huh?

    2. Someone Else Silver badge

      Re: Look on the bright side here

      To my friend Dr. Cerf:

      Dear Vint,

      Run and hide.

      Run.

      And.

      Hide.

      You know, now might be a real good time to cash in those stock options (as I said elsewhere in this forum, Wall St. loves corporate layoffs, and tends to reward the bastards with higher stock prices), and go find yourself that island somewhere. You'd have earned it, and your good name can no longer be besmirched by association with the Chocolate Factory.

      Your friend,

      Someone Else

      P.S. You probably know my real name...

  8. codejunky Silver badge

    In other news

    After 2 years and a total of 18 active accounts it seems the EU version of twitter which was to be privacy friendly, and the EU youtube alternative without ads will be shutting down-

    https://www.timworstall.com/2024/04/success-is-a-moveable-word/

    1. Anonymous Coward
  9. martinusher Silver badge

    The reason for bloat?

    We all complain about software bloat and the constant tweaking of language standards without asking ourselves why this happens. If you talk to the proponents then its obvious -- this year's model is critically important with its myriad new features (etc.). The reality may well be "Idle hands are the Devil's Workshop" -- the people working on a piece of software just don't know when to stop because their lives depend on it (or rather, their livelihoods depend on it). So a Python 'team' may truly be redundant -- but this is where the corporate mindset starts to damage lives and, ultimately, the company. The Python team itself might need to be downsized but they are not just people who's lives are about to get screwed up but also represent a not too easily replaced skillset that could be deployed productively elsewhere in the company.

    Here individuals in the workforce need to avoid the mistake of being -- or seeming to be -- typecast. No matter how secure your job seems to be you should always be training (and likely searching) for the next one.

  10. Jason Hindle

    I sort of get the Python decision; don't get Flutter

    Python is mature, while Flutter is fairly new. Python also originated outside of Google, so we can reasonably expect Google's patronage to be fluid. A quick Google on the most popular frameworks for app development indicates that Flutter hovers around #2. If anything, I would have assumed Google would be doubling down—unless Google's Crystal Ball* indicates headwinds.

    * Assuming they've not also sent that to the Google Graveyard.

  11. Someone Else Silver badge

    I'll betcha...

    Some bigwig at Alphabet (or, more likely bigwigs...plural) have stock options coming due, and since the fatass coke addicts on Wall St. just loves them some layoffs, good people lose their jobs.

    Because you can never have too many Ferraris....

    1. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

      Re: I'll betcha...

      Yeh like how steve jobs with all his billions died of cancer because he in his infinite genius thought fruit juices were better than seeing real specialists.

  12. tiggity Silver badge

    Glad I avoided Flutter

    I avoided it because I am wary of Google products getting canned (happened to some of the projects I liked) & did not fancy investing lots of "free time" hours that may all end up going to waste (as it was for personal interest rather than work requirement, as run mix of Windows (for work) & Linux boxes (personal use), I have android phone & partner has iPhone + uses Mac & iPad so lots of scope to play around with write once, run on multiple platforms tooling).

    I fancied a dabble as it looked potentially a nice way to create cross platform applications, but looks like my cautious avoidance was well founded.

  13. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

    Google is the big tech of Saudi Arabia.

    THe Saudis might have a lot of money today but they are a one trick pony and when that pony bolts they is going to be a utter humanitarian disaster, 50 million Saudis, millions of fanatics and no money in the middle of a waterless desert.

    Google will be no different, one day advertising will be worthless, it will eventually become unacceptable perhaps starting in the EU.

  14. ObscuraPrime

    If AI can write Python code and do other jobs, human dev teams will shrink drastically.

    1. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

      What do you mean IF ?

      How could AI possibly write code to a solve a problem they have never been told ?

      Its not a question of intelligence its a q of knowledge.

      If nobody tells the AI what problem to solve, bug to fix etc, how can the AI know ?

      How can you know my favourite ice cream if nobody tells you ?

      Ai is no different.

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