Google lays off hundreds working on Assistant, hardware, AR teams

An illuminated Google logo REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo
An illuminated Google logo REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

Alphabet's Google said on Wednesday it is laying off hundreds of employees across multiple teams, with Fitbit co-founders James Park and Eric Friedman also leaving the company, as the tech giant continues its push to cut costs.

Google said it will lay off hundreds at its Voice Assistant unit, while a few hundred roles are being eliminated in the company's hardware team responsible for Pixel, Nest and Fitbit, with the majority in the augmented reality (AR) team being let go.

Google bought health and fitness tracking company Fitbit for $2.1 billion in 2021 but has continued to roll out new versions of its Pixel Watch, a product that competes with some of Fitbit's devices and also the Apple Watch.

“Throughout second-half of 2023, a number of our teams made changes to become more efficient and work better, and to align their resources to their biggest product priorities. Some teams are continuing to make these kinds of organisational changes, which include some role eliminations globally,” a spokesperson for Google told Reuters in a statement.

The reorganisation of certain teams comes at a time when companies like Microsoft and Google are betting on the rising adoption of generative artificial intelligence (AI) technology following the success of OpenAI's ChatGPT.

Last year, Google announced plans to add generative AI capabilities to its virtual assistant. AI would allow the assistant to do things like help people plan a trip or catch up on emails and then ask follow-up questions.

The spokesperson did not specify the exact number of roles being impacted. How many people are part of the Google Assistant software and Devices and Services teams was not immediately clear.

In January last year, Google's parent Alphabet announced plans to cut 12,000 jobs around the world, equivalent to 6% of its global workforce.

As of September 2023, Alphabet had 182,381 employees across the world. — Reuters 


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