Google CEO tells employees ‘don’t equate fun with money’ • The Register

Prompt by questions about Google’s cost-cutting at an internal meeting, Alphabet billionaire Sundar Pichai reportedly reassured employees about the internet giant’s tightening financial belt by insisting fun at work doesn’t have to mean money.

CNBC obtained an audio recording of a Google staff meeting held in New York and reports that workers questioned why the megacorporation was “nickel and diming employees” by cutting travel budgets and perks recording profits last year.

Pichai responded that it’s important for the web ad titan to stick together during tough times, and then went on to address cost-cutting, suggesting work can be fun without being tied to rewards.

“Fun wasn’t always — we shouldn’t always equate fun with money,” he said, according to the tape. “I think you can go into a hard-working startup and people might have fun and it shouldn’t always be money.”

Employees also asked about executive compensation, which Pichai reportedly didn’t answer. Pichai, valued at over $1 billion, received $6.3 million as compensation last year

Googler was also instructed by the company’s chief financial officer, Kristin Reinke, to hold back on holiday celebrations “to keep them small, to keep them informal — try not to overdo it.”

Google, known in the past for lavish partiesdid not immediately respond to a request to confirm CNBC’s report of their meeting.

In July, Google launched an initiative to reduce waste and get better results from its 174,000 employees. The following month, at the Code conference in Los Angeles, Pichai said he hoped the initiative would move the company forward 20 percent more productive.

Coincidentally, Alphabet’s headcount increased about 21 percent between the second quarter of 2022 and a year earlier during the pandemic. During the company Earnings call Q2 2022 [PDF] In July — its second straight quarterly loss — Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat attributed the 24 percent increase in operating expenses to the increase in R&D spending “which was primarily due to headcount growth.”

Rival Meta has also talked about employee productivity while reducing hiring plans. Late June, Reuters reported that CEO Mark Zuckerberg wanted to oust underperforming employees.

While both Google and Meta have acknowledged that the hiring rate has slowed, so have they calmly conduct small layoffs.

The current economic slowdown has hurt Alphabet, whose shares are down about 29 percent over the past six months. Meta has also suffered, with its shares down about 34 percent over the past six months and over 50 percent over the past year. ® Google CEO tells employees ‘don’t equate fun with money’ • The Register

Laura Coffey

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