Google does not fire, but comes close: cuts in R&D projects, the company confirms

Several projects canceled by Google on the altar of cost reduction deemed unnecessary, half of those on which the men of Area 120 , the most daring section of the company, worked. Active for over 5 years, Area 120 is an incubator created to keep high-potential ideas in Google: the name refers to the famous “20 percent” of time that all company employees could decide to spend dedicating themselves to any project that seemed interesting, an area that has given birth to services of the caliber of Gmail or AdSense, just to give a couple of examples.

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Here, the decision that the colleagues of have come to know remains within the July assurances of Google CEO Sundar Pichai that there would be no layoffs but “targeted” hires, but it goes so far from misalignment , from an off-piste. Two days ago Google communicated to the employees in Area 120 that the projects have halved , of the current 14 now 7 remain. Those who have had their own canceled have until January 2023 to find a new location in Google, otherwise they will be accompanied at the door.

According to Elias Roman, the number one of Area 120, while so far the incubator has welcomed projects of any kind, for the future Google has limited its area of ​​competence to AI ones. Already a couple of days ago Pichai’s statements at the Code Conference had made more than a few employees tremble: “We must be 20% more efficient” , his message in a nutshell that evoked the specter of layoffs. In a second moment , Google confirmed the indiscretion in full , specifying however that the canceled projects will be replaced by others more useful to the direction that the company wants to follow now:

Area 120 is an internal incubator for testing new products. The group regularly starts and stops projects with the aim of developing those that promise the most – said a spokesperson. We recently determined that Area 120 will shift its focus to projects that align with Google’s deep investment in artificial intelligence and what potential to solve user problems. As a result, Area 120 is closing several projects to make way for new jobs. Interested team members will receive dedicated support as they explore new projects and opportunities at Google.
It seems that the 7 projects canceled in Area 120 are:

Qaya, a Linktree-like service that many creators use on social media that would be integrated with Google Search and Shopping
a project for financial accounting on Google Sheets
a shopping related project
analysis projects on augmented and virtual reality (AR / VR)
three climate projects
on maps for charging electric vehicles
on the estimation of the carbon footprint or carbon footprint for IT
on measuring CO2 in forests.
According to a source cited by colleagues, Area 120 had over 170 employees at the beginning of 2022, now it would be less than 100. Google said the numbers are not accurate.

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