Google to slow hiring for rest of year amid coronavirus pandemic

The search giant could face slumps as the digital advertising industry struggles.

Richard Nieva Former senior reporter
Richard Nieva was a senior reporter for CNET News, focusing on Google and Yahoo. He previously worked for PandoDaily and Fortune Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, on CNNMoney.com and on CJR.org.
Richard Nieva
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Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the company will slow hiring.

James Martin/CNET

Google CEO Sundar Pichai told employees Wednesday that the tech giant will slow down its pace of hiring for the remainder of 2020, as the company deals with the economic downturn spurred by the coronavirus pandemic.

"We'll be slowing down the pace of hiring, while maintaining momentum in a small number of strategic areas, and onboarding the many people who've been hired but haven't started yet," a Google spokesperson said in a statement. Bloomberg earlier reported the news. 

The announcement comes as the effects of the coronavirus crisis ripple across the economy. In the US, 5 million Americans are expected to have filed for unemployment for the week ended April 11. The tech industry, with giant corporations that have at times been valued at over $1 trillion, has not been shielded from its own financial woes. Google and Facebook could face advertising slumps this quarter, as travel and entertainment ads disappear while millions of people shelter in place.

"Just like the 2008 financial crisis, the entire global economy is hurting, and Google and Alphabet are not immune to the effects of this global pandemic," Pichai wrote in a memo to staff. "We exist in an ecosystem of partnerships and interconnected businesses, many of whom are feeling significant pain."

Pichai said the company had hired 20,000 people in 2019, and was poised for similar growth this year. Instead, Google will "dial back" plans in areas that aren't critical to the company's success. People who have already been hired could also see delays in starting work because of difficulties in providing them with training or equipment, like laptops or security keys.

The coronavirus pandemic has already caused major changes at the company. The company has told its employees around the world they should work from home. The search giant also canceled two of its biggest conferences of the year Cloud Next, its cloud storage confab, and Google I/O, its annual gathering of software developers.