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“If You Don’t Act Clearly…”: Sundar Pichai Defends Google Layoffs

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Sundar Pichai

Sundar Pichai

Google’s chief executive officer told employees on Monday that job cuts were made in a bid to act decisively as the firm’s expansion slowed. In an internal conference, Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google parent Alphabet Inc., said he had consulted with the company’s founders and board in deciding on 6% cuts, according to remarks reviewed by Bloomberg.

“If you don’t act clearly and decisively and early, we can compound the problem and make it much worse,” Pichai said. “These are decisions I needed to make.”

On Friday, Google said it would eradicate about 12,000 jobs, becoming the latest tech giant to retrench after years of abundant development and hiring. Though speculation about the cuts swirled for months, the layoffs still came as a shock to some workers. Some recognized they lost their jobs when they could not access corporate systems. Yet Pichai emphasized the cuts were the outcome of careful thought.

He said, “The process was far from random.” He added that all senior vice presidents and above would see a “significant reduction” in their annual bonus because bonuses were tied to company arrangement and because leadership needs to be responsible. The size of Google’s workforce forced executives to keep the circle of decision-makers relatively small, said Fiona Cicconi, Google’s chief people officer, in a meeting with workers.

“In an ideal world, we would have given managers a heads up, but we have over 30,000 managers at Google,” Cicconi said. “We wanted to give certainty sooner.”

“Act early, and you then create the capacity to invest for long-term growth,” Porat said. “As difficult as this was, those were the takeaways.”

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