Alphabet’s Google said on Wednesday it is laying off hundreds of people working on its voice-activated Google Assistant software and is eliminating a similar number of roles in the company’s Devices and Services team.

The layoffs at Google Assistant, first reported by news platform Semafor, are a part of organizational changes that have been in place since the second half of 2023, which included layoffs at the company’s mapping app Waze.

A few hundred roles are being eliminated in the company’s Devices and Services team, with the majority in the 1P AR hardware team, the company said, confirming a report by tech media website 9to5Google, which first reported the reorganization.

As part of the move, the co-founders of Google-owned Fitbit, James Park and Eric Friedman, as well as other Fitbit leaders, are leaving Google, the 9to5Google report said.

“Throughout [the] second half of 2023, a number of our teams made changes to become more efficient and work better, and to align their resources to their biggest product priorities. Some teams are continuing to make these kinds of organizational changes, which include some role eliminations globally”, a spokesperson told Reuters in a statement. ​

The spokesperson did not specify the number of roles being impacted. It is not immediately clear how many people are part of the Google Assistant software and Devices and Services teams.

As of September 2023, Alphabet had 182,381 employees across the world. ​

Google and other tech companies have been racing to build some form of generative AI into new or existing products.

Last October, the company said it plans to add generative AI features from its Bard chatbot into Google’s version of a virtual assistant that aims to provide personalized help with reasoning and generative capabilities on mobile devices.

© Thomson Reuters 2024


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