Big Tech not done with layoffs as Google, Amazon announce cuts in 2024

SAN FRANCISCO — The wave of layoffs that has broken over Silicon Valley in the past two years isn’t over.

On Wednesday, Google confirmed it had cut hundreds of engineering and hardware workers as it sought to cut costs and refocus on artificial intelligence. The same day, Amazon said it would cut some positions at its Prime Video and MGM Studios entertainment divisions. Twitch, a video game streaming company owned by Amazon, also said it was laying off 500 staff members.

The cuts at two of the industry’s biggest and most profitable firms show that the tech world is not done with the waves of layoffs that began in 2022. After a massive hiring spree during the first years of the pandemic, start-ups and Big Tech firms alike have been firing tens of thousands of workers as higher interest rates make it more expensive to invest in new projects and the companies seek to increase their profitability, rather than focusing on growth.

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At Google, the cuts were a continuation of layoffs that hit teams including its Waze navigation app, new employee recruiting and Google News.

“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,” said Chris Pappas, a Google spokesperson. “We’re responsibly investing in our company’s biggest priorities and the significant opportunities ahead.”

Wednesday’s cuts hit the company’s hardware division and included a reorganization of the teams that work on Fitbit, its Nest home devices division and its Pixel smartphones.

Google has invested billions of dollars over many years to build hardware and compete with Apple in the smartphone and smartwatch markets and Amazon on home devices, but the division is still small compared to its core advertising and search businesses.

The cuts at Amazon and Google this week are small compared to the many thousands of workers the two companies fired in 2022 and 2023. Amazon said it was cutting around 27,000 workers beginning at the end of 2022 and continuing through 2023. Google cut 12,000 jobs in January 2023, about 6 percent of its workforce. Meta, the parent company of Facebook, said at the end of 2022 it would cut 11,000 jobs, or 13 percent of its workers.

The layoffs shook Silicon Valley, ending the era where tech workers were confident that they could jump from high-paying job to high-paying job every few years. Start-up funding dropped as well. The gloom has only been tempered by the artificial intelligence revolution, with investors pouring money into AI start-ups and Big Tech firms putting off some of their spending cut plans to buy more computer chips and hire AI researchers in order to take advantage of consumer interest in the new tech.

“Our industry continues to evolve quickly and it’s important that we prioritize our investments for the long-term success of our business,” Mike Hopkins, senior vice president of Prime Video and Amazon MGM Studios, said in a letter to employees Wednesday.

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