Days after Google announced the largest round of layoffs in the company’s 25-year history, executives defended the job cuts and took questions from a concerned workforce during a town hall meeting on Monday.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai led the company wide meeting and told employees that executives will see their bonuses cut. He pleaded with staffers to remain motivated as Google faces heightened competition in areas like artificial intelligence, while also trying to explain why employees who lost their jobs were removed from the internal system without warning.
“I understand you are worried about what comes next for your work,” Pichai said. “Also very sad for the loss of some really good colleagues across the company. For those of you outside the U.S., the delay in being able to make and communicate decisions about roles in your region is undoubtedly causing anxiety.”
CNBC listened to audio of the meeting, which followed the company’s announcement Friday that it’s eliminating 12,000 jobs, or roughly 6% of the full-time workforce. While employees had been bracing for a potential layoff, they wanted answers regarding the criteria that was used to determine who would stay and who would go. Some of the laid-off staffers had long tenures and were recently promoted.
Pichai opened Monday’s town hall meeting acknowledging the Lunar New Year mass shooting in Southern California Saturday night that killed 11 people and injured at least nine others.
“Many of us are still grappling with the violence in L.A. over the weekend and the tragic loss in life,” Pichai said. “I know more details are yet to come out, but it’s definitely hit our Asian-American community in a deep way, especially during the moment of Lunar New Year and we’re all thinking of them.”
After moving the conversation to job cuts, Pichai offered some explanation for how he and the executive team made its decisions.
Pichai said he consulted with the founders and controlling shareholders Sergey Brin and Larry Page as well as the board of directors.
Pichai said 2021 marked “one of the strongest years we’ve ever had in the history of the company,” with 41% revenue growth. Google expanded headcount to match that expansion, and Pichai said the company was assuming growth would persist.
“In that context, we made a set of decisions that might have been right if the trends continued,” he said. “You have to remember if the trend had continued and we had not hired to keep pace, we would fall behind in many areas as a company.”
Executives said 750 senior leaders were involved in the process, adding that it took a few weeks to determine who would be laid off. (CNBC)