Home / News / Artificial Intelligence / With the departure of Fitbit’s creators, Google has laid off hundreds of workers from its voice assistance and hardware departments

With the departure of Fitbit’s creators, Google has laid off hundreds of workers from its voice assistance and hardware departments

In the late hours of Wednesday, Google let go of hundreds of workers across a variety of departments, including engineering and services.

As part of their reorganization, the knowledge and information product team—which includes voice-activated Google Assistant—and the Devices and Services PA (DSPA) team—which oversees Fitbit, Pixel, and Nest hardware—are among the departments hit hard.

In a statement, the firm—which had 182,000 workers as of September 30, 2023—confirmed the news but played down the significance of the layoffs, claiming they were a natural consequence of organizational reforms.

Several of our teams improved their workflow and efficiency in the second half of 2023 and realigned their resources with their top product priorities in order to position themselves optimally for these possibilities. A Google spokeswoman confirmed in a statement that several teams are still implementing similar organizational changes, including the removal of certain roles on a worldwide scale.

The Alphabet Worker Union criticised the layoffs on X, calling them “needless” and saying that the corporation cannot “continue to fire our coworkers” despite its billion-dollar profits.

Not only that, but 9to5Google was the first to reveal that Google has fired much of its augmented reality hardware team and is now collaborating with other original equipment manufacturers. The article went on to say that Google would be merging its Pixel, Fitbit, and Nest teams into a single-core hardware engineering group.

Fitbit co-founders James Park and Eric Friedman are departing as a component of this reorganization, according to the business, which has verified.

When Google unveiled their new Pixel Watch wristwatch lineup, Park was an integral part of the launch.

In 2019, Google revealed its acquisition of Fitbit for $2.1 billion. The acquisition was consummated in 2021 after two years of obtaining regulatory permission. Merging Fitbit items with Google’s own offers has been going on since then. For example, the search engine began encouraging Fitbit users to switch to Google accounts last year.

According to Semafor, the corporation has also fired members of the Google Assistant team. Google began integrating Bard, an AI-powered function of Google Assistant, into Assistant last year in an effort to take Assistant “beyond voice.” At the October Pixel launch, Google announced Assistant, which has the ability to search through Gmail and Drive to find information about specific emails and files.

Several Google departments went through gradual layoffs last year; in June, it was the Waze mapping service; in September, it was the recruitment team; and in October, it was the news division. A further 12,000 positions, or 6% of the workforce, were eliminated by the tech behemoth in January 2023, the same month as Google’s most recent company-wide layoff.

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