Multi-millionaire Google CEO Sundar Pichai ruffled feathers during an all-hands meeting focused on cost-cutting at the tech giant this week, telling employees not to “equate fun with money.”
During the meeting, Mr Pichai was asked in a highly rated question by employees on an internal messenger why the company was “nickel-and-diming employees” by rolling back Google’s famous perks when the company “has record profits and huge cash reserves,” according to audio of the meeting obtained by CNBC.
“I remember when Google was small and scrappy,” Mr Pichai reportedly responded. “Fun didn’t always — we shouldn’t always equate fun with money. I think you can walk into a hard-working startup and people may be having fun and it shouldn’t always equate to money.”
“How do I say it?” the CEO reportedly said during the discussion about the question. “Look, I hope all of you are reading the news, externally. The fact that you know, we are being a bit more responsible through one of the toughest macroeconomic conditions underway in the past decade, I think it’s important that as a company, we pull together to get through moments like this.”
The company told The Independent Mr Pichai used the conversation forum to celebrate Google employees and drive home key strategy initiatives.
“Sundar has been speaking to the company consistently over the last few months about ways we can be more focused,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “On Tuesday, he reinforced what we’ve discussed as a company previously: That we’re in a moment of uncertainty. That our leaders are working to be responsible and efficient in all that their teams do – whether it’s being responsible around travel or events, or ensuring that our people are working on the highest impact / highest priority work.”
The company faces a number of challenges, ranging from the impacts of the pandemic to rampant inflation.
In July, Google reported its slowest pace of revenue growth in the last two years, as advertisers pulled back during the pandemic over fears of a recession.
Google’s holding company Alphabet continues to make revenue and a profit. Revenue was up 13 per cent over the same time last year, and earnings were $16bn, though the latter figure is a 14 per cent decrease from last year
After the announcement of the results in July, Mr Pichai called on employees in an internal memo to be “more entrepreneurial” and show “greater urgency, sharper focus, and more hunger than we’ve shown on sunnier days.”
That same month, the company announced a “Simplicity Sprint,” which the CEP explained was a response to “real concerns that our productivity as a whole is not where it needs to be for the head count we have.”
This year, the company laid off 100 Google cloud workers, canceled the planned release of its next-gen Pixelbook laptop, and cut parts of Area 120, its in-house research incubator.