Tech layoffs

The start of 2023 was greeted by news of mass layoffs. There have been numerous well reasoned voices on why this was a blatantly terrible idea.

Here’s one for the context:

Why the Google layoffs are about personal ambition and poor leadership | by Andy Walker | Jan, 2023 | Medium

Google is incredibly wasteful in the way it deploys people. However, by taking the blunt force approach to headcount reduction they’re not addressing the root causes of these and actually harming themselves in the long run. There are no studies which show that downsizing a company this way leads to improvements in productivity. In fact there is lots of evidence that they’ll lose out because people will be more averse to risk and have lower trust in their leadership.

I have no idea about their “moonshots” program and healthcare arm (Verily) that may or may not have been impacted by these layoffs. The larger cause of “digital health” gets caught up in ambitious announcements that have a “chilling impact” on “start-ups” and “investors” to push for better innovation. If Google is failing, what chance do the upstarts have? It also adversely impacts the creation of an ecosystem, because big tech is now fully beholden to maximising shareholder incentives (I’d call it capitalism unbridled or running amok).

There’s an insider perspective too:

Another reason that Google is wasteful is that it’s too easy. The people inside it don’t see it as a business as they don’t have to struggle against the market forces everyone else has to deal with. Why would you when ads is so profitable? This complacency means senior leaders often follow their personal agendas above all else. Empires rise and fall. Too often I saw that personal ambition trump doing the right thing for users, the business or employees. The root cause is the leadership because it’s their personal ambition over running their part of Google like a business. I’ve seen people promoted to VP based on a set or vague promises they haven’t delivered, mass hiring and vanity metrics. Google can go to great lengths to protect people in senior leadership positions way beyond what they would do for the rank and file.

It doesn’t augur well for the company in the long run.

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