Google is cutting 12,000 jobs in a bid to ride out economic difficulties, the company said Friday.
The jobs cuts -- the largest since the company's founding in 1998 -- will affect workers across different product areas, functions, levels and regions throughout Google parent company Alphabet.
In an email to staff, also published as a blog post, Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai announced the cuts, calling them a "difficult decision to set us up for the future." Pichai apologized to those who must leave the company, saying it means letting go of many talented employees.
"The fact that these changes will impact the lives of Googlers weighs heavily on me, and I take full responsibility for the decisions that led us here," he said.
The 12,000 layoffs represent 6.5% of Google's 185,000 employees and show just how rapidly the company has grown. More employees are being laid off now than worked at Google in 2006, when there were just over 10,500 workers.
They are the latest in a string of job cuts to affect major US tech companies including Microsoft, Amazon, Meta and Twitter since November. To different degrees, these layoffs have been influenced by companies rapidly expanding their workforces and then realizing they had more workers than they either needed or could afford.
"Over the past two years we've seen periods of dramatic growth," said Pichai, explaining the reasoning behind the cuts. "To match and fuel that growth, we hired for a different economic reality than the one we face today."
He added that Google will now sharpen its focus and redirect remaining talent towards working on projects that are a priority for the company, including in AI.
Executive Chair of Alphabet Workers Union-CWA Parul Koul called the news "devastating" in a statement issued on Friday.
"This is egregious and unacceptable behavior by a company that made $17 billion dollars in profit last quarter alone," said Koul. "Workers have never been able to rely on Alphabet for secure employment -- evidenced by the vast subcontracted workforce -- but it is increasingly clear that tech workers must organize at a massive scale to force employers to directly bargain with workers in order to protect our jobs."
Workers affected by Google cuts in the US have already been informed.
Meanwhile, the decisions about employees will be laid off in other countries will take Google longer due to local labor laws that require companies to follow strict processes, such as consultations with those who may be affected. Google is giving all affected employees in the US a 60-day notice, severance packages starting at 16 weeks of pay, 2022 bonuses and remaining vacation time and six months of health care benefits.
On Jan. 11, Verily, the life sciences arm of Alphabet, announced plans to eliminate 15% of its workforce, or about 200 jobs. It's unclear whether those cuts are separate from the ones announced Friday.
A Google representative referred back to Pichai's blog when asked for additional comment and information.
The layoffs come ahead of quarterly earnings set for release on Feb. 2.