On Wednesday, Alphabet's Google announced the layoff of hundreds of employees working on its voice-activated Google Assistant software, as well as the elimination of a comparable number of posts in the company's Devices and Services unit.
The cutbacks at Google Assistant, first reported by news outlet Semafor, are part of organizational changes implemented in the second half of 2023, which also included layoffs at the company's mapping service Waze.
The business confirmed a claim by tech media website 9to5Google, which first revealed the reorganization, that a few hundred roles are being removed in the company's Devices and Services division, with the majority in the 1P AR hardware team.
According to the 9to5Google report, the co-founders of Google-owned Fitbit, James Park and Eric Friedman, as well as other Fitbit execs, are leaving Google as part of the move.
"Throughout the second half of 2023, a number of our teams made changes to become more efficient and productive, as well as to better align their resources to their top product priorities." "Some teams are continuing to make these types of organizational changes, including some role eliminations globally," a Reuters spokesman said in a statement. The number of affected roles was not specified by the spokeswoman. It is unclear how many individuals work on the Google Assistant software and Devices and Services teams.
Alphabet had 182,381 employees worldwide as of September 2023.
Google and other tech firms have been rushing to incorporate some type of generative AI into new or existing businesses. In October, the company announced intentions to include generative AI characteristics from its Bard chatbot into Google's version of a virtual assistant, which promises to deliver personalized assistance with reasoning and generative capabilities on mobile devices.