Home Industry Market More job cuts ahead at Google

More job cuts ahead at Google

It might be avoiding the splashy announcement of thousands of retrenchments in one hit a la Microsoft, but Google is steadily paring back its workforce.

The first round of layoffs at Google occurred last northern spring, with 300 people let go following the DoubleClick acquisition. It's not unusual for redundancies to occur in such situations, but it was reportedly the first time Google felt the need to shed staff.

Another round occurred in November 2008. 100 jobs were lost in the company's recruitment operation, reflecting a slowdown in hiring as the international economy turned sour.

The new year saw an unspecified percentage of 70 engineering staff cut loose as part of a program to consolidate certain sites.

Behind the scenes, Google has been shedding contractors and other temporary workers. According to WebGuild as many as 6000 such positions had been lost, as evidenced by the company reporting 30,000 employees in November 2008 and only 24,400 in December.

However, the Associated Press report cited by WebGuild stated a Google spokesperson claimed that it would be incorrect to conclude the difference between the two figures reflected the total number of people cut by Google.

Mind you, the spokesperson declined to state how many contractors had been dropped, so it's tempting to assume the worst.

So, who are the latest Googlers to feel the axe? Please read on.

This week's instalment comes from a little known corner of the Google empire.

Since 2006, the company has been offering advertising services for broadcast radio.

But no more: "While we've devoted substantial resources to developing these products and learned a lot along the way, we haven't had the impact we hoped for," said Susan Wojcicki, vice president product management at Google.

Google Audio Ads and AdSense for Audio will be phased out by May 31, and the company hopes to sell the Google Radio Automation business.

But Google isn't completely exiting the audio ad business, as it will apply existing technology to the "emerging advertising space" of streaming audio.

Even allowing for that and for the possibility of redeploying staff to other areas of the company, Wojcicki predicted that up to 40 people would be retrenched.

So the story seems to be the stealthy layoff of large numbers of contractors, plus a death by a thousand cuts for the permanent workforce.

Apart from the individual hardship involved, the sad thing is that there is apparently no evidence that layoffs improve long-term financial performance.

By the time the savings actually materialise, conditions improve and the company is faced with the expense of hiring new employees - typically with the same skills of those that were retrenched 12 to 18 months earlier.


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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.