You Won’t Believe Who Google Laid Off (Or Maybe You Totally Will) – PJ Media

When search and services tech giant Google announced layoffs for 12,000 workers worldwide last month, my first question was, “Which workers?”

These things matter. Twitter owner and temporary (?) CEO Elon Musk laid off half of his workforce almost immediately upon taking control of the company, and dire predictions aside, the social platform is still functioning. Not without hiccups, since Musk is making major changes under the hood to rid Twitter of its inherent speech-silencing biases. But Twitter runs fine with what just a few months ago Silicon Valley would have considered a skeleton crew.

I probably don’t have to tell you this, but it deeply matters who gets the boot.

In the world of software, cruft is the accumulation of “defective, superseded, useless, superfluous, or dysfunctional elements” that slow things down. As it turns out, once-sleek tech startups begin accumulating cruft almost as soon as the big money starts coming in.

Here’s one small — but infamous — example of the kind of Twitter employee who got Elon’s boot:

Twitter never made the kind of money the super-bigs like Google, Apple, and Facebook do. And yet do-nothing twentysomething marketing deadweight types were getting treated to perks right out of Lifestyles of the Rich and Useless.

When a programmer who created and coded some great new Google feature gets canned, that’s maybe not smart. When the sysop who keeps the servers humming smoothly is issued walking papers, ditto. When some human resources ninny who believes their job is holding the occasional brain-storming session in between catered sushi and in-house massage therapy, that’s some corporate cruft best excised with extreme prejudice.

So who is Google trimming, the meat or the fat?

Maybe a bit of both.

The New York Post told the story on Tuesday of Ali Neil, a 29-year-old Google engineer who got her pink slip at 2 a.m. on the day the layoffs were executed. She told Business Insider that she’d “bled for Google,” and that she’d have to look for a new job in “one of the most difficult hiring situations and housing markets.” Neil was locked out of her work accounts and laptop (naturally) and was told she wouldn’t be allowed to come into the office to drop it off.

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On the other hand, Neil had only worked for Google since 2020 and was in her third month of mental health leave. If she’s suffering from an actual mental health condition, that’s one thing. If Neil was taking advantage of a corporate leave policy to take a long break after a short employment, she practically put her own head on the chopping block.

Neither the Post nor BI makes it clear which possibility is the correct one.

Speaking of massages, Google laid off 31 massage therapists who had been employed at corporate HQ and other offices. I certainly harbor no ill will towards them, and kind of wish I worked for a company big enough to send a masseuse to my home office once a week.

Or even just once a month, if anyone from corporate is reading this.

Those therapists undoubtedly had good gigs at Google, and I hope they aren’t long out of work. Still, when a big business is facing stiff economic headwinds, perks like free massages are among the first things to go.

A recruiter on maternity leave found out she’d been laid off while feeding her three-week-old daughter at zero-dark-thirty. This one is a sad case, but I’m thinking recruiters are among the first to go when there’s going to be a lot less hiring.

Google’s “head of mental health and wellbeing” also got the axe after 15 years with the Menlo Park-based company. “I have had so many emotions these past few days,” former chief head shrinker Kristin Maczko wrote on LinkedIn. “I am sad to leave the many friends and colleagues who I have worked with at Google.” Much of her team was let go, too.

Maczko seems like a curious case. According to MSN, she started as a data scientist in 2008, before moving into finance and leadership roles in Google’s cloud services. Those are all profit centers for the company, but in 2021 she took on the “mental health and wellbeing” job that generates expenses, not profits.

The Big Tech layoffs might just be getting started, too.

If there are lessons in Google’s mess of layoffs, it’s the obvious ones — and they apply to all industries, not just Big Tech.

Don’t make yourself dispensable. Work in a profit center, not in an expense generator. And if you’re part of the services crew brought on to provide corporate perks, keep your options open at all times.

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