C. Scott Brown / Android Authority
- Google is attempting to operate more efficiently by honing in only on projects it deems a priority.
- The movement to be more efficient has reportedly resulted in half of its Area 120 projects being canceled.
- The employees who were working on the canceled projects may be terminated if they can’t find another job within the company.
As Google tries to save money and operate more efficiently, the search engine giant has canned half of its projects at one of its research and development divisions known as Area 120.
Lately, Google and Alphabet CEO, Sundar Pichai, has been talking a lot about making Google more efficient. In a July internal memo obtained by The Verge, Pichai told his employees that the company would have to work with, “greater urgency, sharper focus, and more hunger than we’ve shown on sunnier days.” More recently, while speaking at last week’s Code Conference, Pichai told attendees that he wants to make the company 20% more efficient, according to CNBC. Now we could be seeing Pichai put those words into action.
According to TechCrunch, Google has confirmed that it has canceled projects being worked on by Area 120 — its “moonshot” research and development department in charge of projects that may or may not be profitable. The division was reportedly working on 14 projects and is now only working on seven. However, the cancelation of projects isn’t the only worry here.
When Pichai began talking about efficiency, it was speculated that the company could eventually be looking to reduce its headcount. Now it seems that speculation could be coming to fruition.
As reported by TechCrunch, Google informed staff on Tuesday of a “reduction in force” that would affect the people at Area 120. Anybody who was working on a team that had its project canceled was told that they had to find another job within Google by the end of January 2023 or risk termination.
What will Google’s Area 120 team focus on now that half of its projects have been wiped away? Area 120 lead, Elias Roman, says the division is looking to hone in on only AI-first projects. This is opposed to its earlier stance that encouraged incubation across all of the company.
In response to Google’s decision, a spokesperson for the company stated:
Area 120 is an in-house incubator for experimental new products. The group regularly starts and stops projects with an eye toward pursuing the most promising opportunities. We’ve recently shared that Area 120 will be shifting its focus to projects that build on Google’s deep investment in AI and have the potential to solve important user problems. As a result, Area 120 is winding down several projects to make way for new work. Impacted team members will receive dedicated support as they explore new projects and opportunities at Google.
It appears that one of the projects that were cut was a service that offers web storefronts for digital creators called Qaya. Unlike the other six projects, this service was already launched last year.
At the moment, Silicon Valley is experiencing a slew of layoffs with tech giants like Coinbase, Netflix, and Shopify letting hundreds of employees go. It’s possible we could see more stories like this before things get better.