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Google’s postpandemic ‘reckoning’

Google’s postpandemic ‘reckoning’


Why fresh layoffs inside Google this week signal that more could be on the horizon.

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This week, Shailesh Prakash, the VP in charge of Google News, gathered his hundreds of employees to talk about a surprise round of layoffs that had just hit the team. 

A year ago, cuts like this at Google — historically the most coddling employer in all of Big Tech — would have been unthinkable. But market forces have a way of catching up with everyone. In January, the search giant conducted its first mass layoff in over a decade, cutting 6 percent of its staff, or about 12,000 people. Last month, hundreds of recruiters were let go, a concrete sign that hiring targets have been reduced significantly. 

The layoffs this week in Google News were relatively small, with roughly three dozen people impacted. But why they happened has bigger implications, especially for those who are more senior across the sprawling conglomerate that is Google and Alphabet. At his all-hands meeting for the Google News team on Wednesday, Prakash said the company had grown headcount too quickly during the pandemic and that “there’s a reckoning” being felt now as a result. According to people who heard the remarks, he specifically called out the influx of level 8 and 9 roles — some of the most senior positions one can hold before becoming an exec — that Google either hired for or promoted people to over the past couple of years.

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