Google CEO defends layoff process in heated town hall Monday

Google CEO defends layoff process in heated town hall Monday

Sundar Pichai, CEO, Alphabet

Lluis Gene | AFP | Getty Images

Days after Google introduced the biggest spherical of layoffs in the corporate’s 25-year historical past, executives defended the job cuts and took questions from a involved workforce throughout a town hall assembly on Monday.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai led the companywide assembly and advised staff that executives will see their bonuses reduce. He pleaded with staffers to stay motivated as Google faces heightened competitors in areas like synthetic intelligence, whereas additionally attempting to clarify why staff who misplaced their jobs had been faraway from the inner system with out warning.

“I perceive you’re nervous about what comes subsequent to your work,” Pichai mentioned. “Also very unhappy for the lack of some actually good colleagues throughout the corporate. For these of you outdoors the U.S., the delay in having the ability to make and talk choices about roles in your area is undoubtedly inflicting nervousness.”

CNBC listened to audio of the assembly, which adopted the corporate’s announcement Friday that it is eliminating 12,000 jobs, or roughly 6% of the full-time workforce. While staff had been bracing for a possible layoff, they wished solutions relating to the factors that was used to find out who would keep and who would go. Some of the laid-off staffers had lengthy tenures and had been just lately promoted.

Pichai opened Monday’s town hall assembly acknowledging the Lunar New Year mass shooting in Southern California Saturday evening that killed 11 individuals and injured not less than 9 others.

“Many of us are nonetheless grappling with the violence in L.A. over the weekend and the tragic loss in life,” Pichai mentioned. “I do know extra particulars are but to return out, nevertheless it’s positively hit our Asian-American group in a deep means, particularly throughout the second of Lunar New Year and we’re all pondering of them.”

‘We have over 30,000 managers’

Executives mentioned 750 senior leaders had been concerned in the process, including that it took a number of weeks to find out who could be laid off.

“We have over 30,000 managers at Google and to seek the advice of with all of them would have made this an open process the place it might have taken extra weeks and even months to make a decision,” mentioned Fiona Cicconi, Google’s chief individuals officer, on the assembly. “We wished to get certainty sooner.”

Regarding the factors for cuts, Cicconi mentioned execs checked out areas the place the work was crucial, however the firm had too many individuals in addition to locations the place the work itself wasn’t important. Cicconi mentioned the corporate thought-about “talent set, time in position the place expertise or relationships are related and matter, productiveness indicators like gross sales quotas and efficiency historical past.”

Pichai indicated there could be govt compensation cuts however supplied restricted particulars. He mentioned all senior vice presidents “will see a really vital discount in their annual bonus” this 12 months.

“The extra senior you’re, the extra your compensation is tied to efficiency,” he mentioned. “You can cut back your fairness grants if efficiency shouldn’t be nice.”

Prior to the job cuts, Google had made the choice to pay out 80% of bonuses this month with the remaining anticipated in March or April. In prior years, the total bonus was paid in January.

Thomas Kurian, the CEO of Google Cloud, provided some perspective on the areas that noticed cuts. Google’s cloud unit has been one of many fastest-growing areas for headcount growth as the corporate tries to catch Amazon and Microsoft.

“Our engineering hiring is being far more focused in areas the place we have to fill out a product portfolio,” Kurian mentioned. “We are including gross sales and buyer engineers in very particular nations and industries.”

Kurian mentioned that beginning in July, the cloud unit’s intention was to focus hiring “in response to generative AI throughout our portfolio.”

Like with different all-hands conferences, Google executives took questions from the corporate’s inside discussion board referred to as Dory. Employees can put up questions there, and so they bubble as much as the highest when their co-workers give them an upvote.

For Monday’s assembly, among the top-rated questions needed to do with the process and communication across the layoffs. One remark mentioned that staff are “taking part in a sport of ping-and-hope-to-hear-back to determine who misplaced their job. Can you converse to the communication technique?”

Rick Osterloh, senior vice chairman of gadgets and companies, mentioned the corporate “intentionally didn’t share out of respect for individuals’s privateness.”

“We know this may be irritating for people who find themselves nonetheless right here,” Osterloh mentioned. “But shedding your job with none selection in it is rather tough and it’s very private and many individuals don’t need their names to be on a listing that’s distributed to everybody.”

Looking forward to A.I.

Another commenter on Dory wrote, “We severed entry for 12k staff with out the possibility to carry out information transfers and even allow them to say goodbye to their colleagues. This is what we do to individuals who get fired.”

Then got here the query: “What’s the message for these of us who’re left?”

Royal Hansen, vice chairman of Security at Google, chimed in to explain “an uncommon set of dangers that frankly we’re not that well-practiced at managing.” He mentioned there have been “tradeoffs.”

“When you consider our customers and the way important they’ve turn into in individuals’s lives — all of the services, the delicate information they’ve trusted us with — although it may need been a really low chance, we needed to plan for the likelihood that one thing may go terribly unsuitable,” Hansen mentioned. “The best choice was to shut company entry the best way you described,” he mentioned, referring to the abrupt shutdown.

In response to a query asking how staff who had been with the corporate for 15-plus years had been focused for cuts, Brian Glaser, vice chairman and chief expertise and studying officer mentioned, “everyone knows that nobody is immune to alter in our careers.”

Pichai reminded staffers that the corporate has necessary work forward, in specific with respect to fast progress in AI. Last month, Google staff requested executives at an all-hands meeting whether or not the AI chatbot ChatGPT represents a “missed alternative” for Google.”

Pichai mentioned on Monday that “will probably be an necessary 12 months given the fast developments in AI,” which can have an effect throughout the corporate.

“There’s a paradigm shift with AI and I feel, with the focus of expertise we’ve and work we’ll do right here, will probably be a giant draw and I hope it’ll proceed to be,” Pichai added. “We should preserve incomes it.”

He closed the town hall by bringing the dialogue again to the subject at hand.

It’s evident, Pichai mentioned, “how a lot you all care about your colleagues and the corporate.” He added, “I do know it’ll take much more time to process this second and what you heard at the moment as properly.”

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