Google cuts hundreds of jobs in its voice assistance, hardware teams as Fitbit founders leave

Google is laying off hundreds of employees across multiple divisions including engineering and services.

The affected divisions include voice-activated Google Assistant as part of the knowledge and information product team restructuring; and the Devices and Services PA (DSPA) team that manages Pixel, Nest, and Fitbit hardware.

The company, which had 182,000 employees as of September 30, 2023, confirmed this development but downplayed it through a statement to indicate the job cuts were part of organizational changes

“To best position us for these opportunities, throughout the second half of 2023, a number of our teams made changes to become more efficient and work better, and to align their resources to their biggest product priorities. Some teams are continuing to make these kinds of organizational changes, which include some role eliminations globally,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement.

The Alphabet Worker Union said on X that the layoffs were “needless” and the company can’t “continue to fire our coworkers” while making billions.

Google has also let go of most of its AR hardware team and will work with other OEMs, as first reported by 9to5Google. The report also mentioned that Google will now have one core hardware engineering team instead of separate teams working on Pixel, Fitbit, and Nest.

The company also confirmed to TechCrunch that Fitbit co-founders James Park and Eric Friedman are leaving as part of this restructuring.

Google announced that it is acquiring Fitbit for $2.1 billion in 2019 The deal took two years to pass regulatory approval and was finalized in 2021. Since then the company has been merging Fitbit products into Google’s own offerings. For instance, last year, the search giant started prompting Fitbit users to migrate to Google accounts.

Separately, the company has also let go of people working on the Google Assistant team, as reported by Semafor. The company started infusing AI-powered features in Google Assistant through Bard last year in a bid to expand Assistant “beyond voice.” In October, during the Pixel event, Google said that Assistant could look through apps like Gmail and Drive to respond to queries related to specific emails and files.

Last year, Google had rolling layoffs in different teams including the Waze mapping service in Juneits recruiting team in September, and its news division in October. Google’s latest company-wide layoff comes a year after the tech giant let go of approximately 12,000 roles, or 6% of its workforce, in January 2023.

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