Google to lay off 12,000 workers

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2023/01/20/google-to-lay-off-12000-workers.html

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Are they in the red? Companies turning a profit should not do this. It’s just plain wrong.

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They have stocks to buy back. The market has spoken. Never contradict the market! /s

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Translated from Deflectresponsibilityese:

“I and my fellow executives at Alphabet are very bad at our jobs. The whole reason that we claim to be worth billions of dollars in compensation is because we are visionaries who can predict the future and Titans of industry who shape the world by our edicts. That is not true of course, but you will suffer the consequences of it not us”

To be fair their version is a lot faster to say

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Don’t pee on my head and tell me it’s raining.

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Dog, I hate layoffs. :cry:

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If the big tech companies with their full treasuries are doing this pro-actively in anticipation of a recession, the layoffs going to get pretty brutal in other industries.

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Remember, Microsoft hired roughly 40,000 people from June of 2021 to June of 2022. Most likely because they were pushing Teams and other connectivity products, all of which choked in the marketplace (Team blows chunks compared to Zoom, frankly). So, laying off 10k? They’re still up 30,000 over June of '21. 50,000 over June of 2020. They’ve been on a hiring spree since 2016, nearly DOUBLING in size in that time.

EDIT: Whoops, forgot to bring that back around to Google. But others are already noting the dissonance here, and the real reasons they are laying off. Not to “right size” their company, but for their stock buy backs. Down turns are always a good time to buy your own stock.

I don’t quite see it that way. In fact, I don’t think the down turn is going to be near as bad as some reactionary economists are saying on the major networks. These are the same people who thought the real estate market couldn’t possible blow up in 2007, and who engaged in irrational exuberance during the tech stock run up of the 1990’s. Their prognosticating skills are seriously suss.

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Recessions are part of the cyclical nature of economies – nothing lasts forever. The question is how severe and jarring they are and how much of a soft landing can be engineered. I don’t think this recession is going to be a particularly bad one in and of itself, but there is a herd mentality in executive suites of all companies that can make it worse than it has to be.

The big tech companies can absorb the various costs associated with reducing their workforces, but others (especially those rushing to do layoffs in a panic after the recession is officially declared) could go under. Similarly, credentialed and highly skilled tech workers who are laid off will have more options than those from other industries.

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Recession my ass, they have metrics that show what anyone who works in a huge office knows: 10-20% of the company does little to no work, most of the 12K will be from poor performing teams and members. This also motivates the people remaining

Unfortunately, senior managers are left out of those metrics when it comes time to lay off staff to make the shareholders happy. I would be willing to bet that the percentage of those managers who do little to no work runs a lot higher than the general 10-20% number you cite.

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Maybe. I worked at one of the largest companies in the world due to them acquiring a small company I worked for, and my time in the trenches had some surprises.

This company had layoffs every quarter for a few years in a row, sometimes quite deep. I managed a few people and my boss managed ~15 guys like me, so overall he oversaw maybe 150-200 people under him. We would know when layoffs were coming, before any regular employees knew. However, not once did anyone ask me anything about the people working for me - which ones I needed the most, which were underperforming, nothing.

My boss claimed the same thing - I can’t know for sure if he would have told me the truth but generally working with him for a few years he never said anything to me that came back on him and generally was very helpful getting me acclimated to navigating the beaurocracy of that place so I guess I trust him.

Granted, they could go by reviews/ratings, but due to rating inflation, it was extremely rare for anyone to ever get less than 5/5 on any metric unless you were trying to get rid of them.

tl;dr I’m not sure that the people deciding who to fire “know” which are the under-performers

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Also I guess point 2: the company in question would essentially encourage a certain sector of the company to volulntarily resign. This was always the most senior people, people plausibly close to retirement who might decide to take a big package and retire early. My guess is that these people were more expensive relative to younger workers.

Semi-related, they made several policies that greatly improved salaries for the most junior employees but locked salaries for the most senior ones, which had a similar natural effect for employees who were not at the end of their career but who had a lot of seniority, because the message was “stay here and you’ll get no raises for 10 years unless you get promoted which at your level is nearly impossible”

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Now I’m wondering if nursing is recession proof. I thought tech would be pretty well protected. Worry after the time of cholera.

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This keeps coming to mind every time I hear about a mass tech layoff

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Tech has been through layoffs before. This one feels like tech did great when people were mostly staying at home during the pandemic, and now that people are “getting back to normal” (despite the pandemic not actually being over or anything) that the “excess” spending that went into tech is sloshing other places and then on top of that we have a across the board recession. So now tech has a double kick to the back of the knees and upper management looked into the big toolbox and decided “layoffs” are a great tool, maybe a side of stock buybacks too.

Sadly none of them seem to be pulling the same tool out of that box that Steve Jobs did in the early 2000s, the “everyone else is laying talent off, I want to hire it all cheap, no layoffs and everyone that knows someone talented that lost a job tell your manager!”

Anyway, thanks for the diversion, I need to get back to updating my resume since I didn’t get through the recent round of layoffs unscathed.

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I had a very similar experience at a similar company. I came in through an acquisition, and after the second year of layoffs, I realized it was just part of their approach to business. I managed managers, and was given a list of employees who needed to be laid off. I left after the second round.

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Funeral & burial care, I once read…

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The company that owned Vise-Grip did this in 2008. They moved the operation overseas and laid off an entire town.

I can’t find articles but I remember scratching my head at the time because they were a profitable company, just not profitable enough.

The good news is 10 years later someone bought the old factory and produced locking pliers for 5 years. The bad news again is it didn’t work out and at the end 0f 2022 63 people lost their job.

I still don’t understand the constant need to grow and if a business fails to make more money than the previous year, even if they are still turning a profit, it’s considered a failure.

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Sure, recessions happen. I just think the doom and gloom by these folks is a lot of uh… wishful thinking? They’re hoping for one, and the only reason we’ll get it is because they so worried about it their own actions caused it. Maybe they’ve been shorting stocks, I don’t know.

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