Google freezes hiring; Joins Meta, Spotify, Snap as recession fears hit Big Tech

Amid growing fears of a global recession, companies and employees are braced for disaster.

Google freezes hiring; Joins Meta, Spotify, Snap as recession fears hit Big Tech
Pichai put the blame squarely on the economic landscape for the decision. (Reuters)

Google will slow down hirings for the remainder of 2022, telling employees that the company would have to “be more entrepreneurial”.  Google CEO Sundar Pichai sent a memo to employees, informing them about the slowing down in hiring and urged them to work with “greater urgency, sharper focus, and more hunger than we’ve shown on sunnier days”.

According to the memo, Google would not be entirely freezing hiring — it would continue to hire for “engineering, technical and other critical roles”. However, Pichai said the pullback would mean “pausing development and re-deploying resources to higher priority areas”.

Pichai put the blame squarely on the economic landscape for the decision. Amid growing fears of a global recession, companies and employees are braced for disaster. Microsoft is the latest Big Tech company to lay off employees, its first in five years. A Microsoft spokesperson told CNBC that the company had “notified a small number of employees that their roles had been eliminated due to a strategic realignment. Like all companies, we evaluate our business on a regular basis. We continue to invest in certain areas and grow headcount in the year ahead”.

In his memo to Google employees, Pichai wrote: “The uncertain global economic outlook has been top of mind. Like all companies, we’re not immune to economic headwinds. Something I cherish about our culture is that we’ve never viewed these types of challenges as obstacles. Instead, we’ve seen them as opportunities to deepen our focus and invest for the long term.”

“In these moments, I turn to our mission: to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. It’s what inspired me to join the company 18 years ago, and what makes me so optimistic about the impact we are able to have on the world. Knowledge and computing are how we drive our mission forward. That’s the lens we use to decide where to invest — whether it’s in areas like Search, Cloud, YouTube, Platforms and Hardware, the teams that support them, or in the AI that enables more helpful products and services.”

Google isn’t the only company to hit the brakes on hiring — Uber has announced it would have to be “hardcore about costs”, while Facebook-parent Meta, in an internal memo, warned of “serious times” and fierce headwinds following the implementation of hiring freezes for some teams. Spotify and Snap also announced plans to slow hiring. The likes of Twitter, GameStop, and Netflix recently laid off thousands of employees.

Google hired 10,000 employees in Q2 alone. Now, the company will re-deploy resources to higher-priority areas.

“Moving forward, we need to be more entrepreneurial, working with greater urgency, sharper focus, and more hunger than we’ve shown on sunnier days. In some cases, that means consolidating where investments overlap and streamlining processes. In other cases, that means pausing development and re-deploying resources to higher priority areas,” Pichai said.

“Scarcity breeds clarity — this is something we have been saying since the earliest days of Google. It’s what drives focus and creativity that ultimately leads to better products that help people all over the world. That’s the opportunity in front of us today, and I’m excited for us to rise to the moment again.”

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