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Google employees allowed to work from home Friday to ‘absorb this difficult news’ of parent Alphabet laying off 12,000 people

January 20, 2023, 5:43 PM UTC
Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said in a memo to staff on Friday he took full responsibility for the decisions that led to laying of 12,000 employees.
Bloomberg—Getty Images

After announcing the company was laying off some 12,000 employees on Friday, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai put on his velvet glove and allowed those still at the company to work from home in order to help deal with the “difficult news.”

In a memo to staff Friday—a version of which was shared on the company’s blog—Pichai said the cuts, which account for roughly 6% of the company’s staff, will be felt across Alphabet’s product areas, business functions, hierarchy, and regions.

“This will mean saying goodbye to some incredibly talented people we worked hard to hire and have loved working with. I’m deeply sorry for that,” he wrote. “The fact that these changes will impact the lives of Googlers weighs heavily on me, and I take full responsibility for the decisions that led us here.”

The company plans to hold a town hall with staff on Monday to answer questions and provide more information about the companies immediate future. Pichai wrote in the memo he’s confident about the opportunity before Alphabet because of the company’s mission, products and services, and its investments in AI.

“Until then, please take good care of yourselves as you absorb this difficult news. As part of that, if you are just starting your work day, please feel free to work from home today,” Pichai wrote. “When I look around Google today, I see that same spirit and energy driving our efforts. That’s why I remain optimistic about our ability to deliver on our mission, even on our toughest days. Today is certainly one of them.”

It’s like some were already working from home; Alphabet’s subsidiary Google mandated corporate employees to return to the office three days a week back in April 2022 and has a “work from anywhere” policy employees can take advantage of for four weeks out of the year.

The layoffs at Alphabet come after the company conducted “a rigorous review” of the business, a necessity many tech and media companies find themselves contending with as the economy continues to flounder after allowing years of more rapid growth and investment.

Vox Media, also on Friday, laid off 7% of its staff, Axios reported. That comes the same week layoff news has circled The Washington Post, which is contending with declining ad revenue. And on Wednesday, Microsoft cut some 10,000 employees the day after reportedly hosting an intimate concert featuring Sting during the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Pichai, in his memo on Friday, thanked the employees leaving the company and said the company plans to support them as they look for new jobs.

“Thank you for working so hard to help people and businesses everywhere,” he wrote. “Your contributions have been invaluable and we are grateful for them.”

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