Updated January 11th, 2024 at 12:20 IST
Google lays off hundreds of employees again, Fitbit co-founders leave: Report
The reorganisation aligns with Google's strategic shift of AR work to the Android and hardware teams.
Google layoffs: Alphabet-owned Google has decided to lay off hundreds of employees primarily from its voice-activated Google Assistant software, knowledge and information product teams. A Google spokesperson confirmed this restructuring to Semafor on Wednesday, January 10, explaining that the move aims to enhance Google Assistant by integrating newer artificial intelligence technology into its products. As part of this reorganisation, notable departures include Fitbit co-founders James Park and Eric Friedman, along with other Fitbit leaders, according to a report by 9To5Google.
It said Google plans to leverage its generative AI chatbot, Bard, to develop a revamped version of Google Assistant. This upgraded version is expected to "extend beyond voice, understand and adapt to users, and handle personal tasks in new ways." The decision comes as large language models, such as OpenAI's ChatGPT, continue to transform the market, prompting tech giants like Google to explore optimal ways to integrate these advancements into their existing product lines.
After massive layoffs
This development comes nearly a month after Sundar Pichai said laying off 12,000 employees in January 2023 was one of the “most difficult decisions for the company”. As of September 2023, Google's parent company, Alphabet, reported a workforce of over 180,000 employees.
The reorganisation aligns with Google's strategic shift of AR work to the Android and hardware teams, stressing continued commitment to other AR initiatives, including experiences in products like Lens and Maps, as well as various product partnerships.
Changes in the Devices & Services team
In tandem with the layoffs in the voice-activated assistant sector, Google is undergoing significant reorganisation within its Devices & Services teams, responsible for Pixel, Nest, and Fitbit hardware. This shift involves transitioning from distinct, independent teams for each division to a functional organisation model.
Under the new model, a single team will oversee hardware engineering across Pixel, Nest, and Fitbit, with one leader responsible for this aspect of products across all Google hardware. The restructuring aims to streamline operations and potentially lead to more cohesive products across different form factors.
Published January 11th, 2024 at 09:56 IST