Monday, May 29, 2023

Google to cut some of its perks to cut costs amid AI race



Google is cutting some of its famous perks as the tech giant scrambles to trim costs and re-orient itself to focus more on artificial intelligence amid fierce competition from Microsoft and a growing force of smaller companies.

The company will close some of the “microkitchens” that populate its many offices and provide free snacks, cereal, espresso and seltzer water, according to an email sent to employees by Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat on Friday that was obtained by The Washington Post. Spending on equipment, such as personal laptops will be cut too.

The mass layoffs that rocked the company in January are still being “worked through in some countries,” Porat said in the email.

Google didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Google long led the tech industry with its free perks, including laundry, massages, sushi lunches and workout facilities. The perks, high salaries and recurring stock grants gave the company a reputation as the cushiest employer in Silicon Valley. But a sell-off in tech stocks and concerns about a recession have ended the golden days for tech workers, and Google has joined its competitors in firing thousands of workers, cutting back on expansion projects and ending perks that employees long took for granted.

The cuts come just as Google scrambles to stay apace with Microsoft and a growing roster of well-funded start-ups that are launching new artificial intelligence products that many in the industry say will change the way people interact with computers and usher in a new era of tech competition and innovation.

Google has spent billions on AI over the past decade, hiring many of the world’s top researchers, but was caught flat-footed when OpenAI, a much smaller firm, began putting out AI tools like image generators and chatbots that spurred a flurry of excitement for the tech from regular people, tech workers and Wall Street.

This story is breaking and will be updated.

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