Budget cuts in Google’s R&D. The company is canceling half of its projects in its internal R&D division Area 120. The company informed its staff on Tuesday, September 13, 2022 of a reduction in staff by half within the incubator since half of the projects are canceled .

Employees whose project is stopped must find new work within Google by the end of January 2023 or they will be laid off. It is not certain that they will all be able to find a new position. “Affected team members will receive dedicated support to seek new projects and opportunities within Google,” a spokesperson said.

STRENGTHEN PROFITABILITY

It’s not that much of a surprise. Sundar Pichai, Alphabet’s CEO, opened the door to budget cuts by saying last week that the group needs to be 20% more efficient. A change of course compared to the announcements made in July: Sundar Pichai had declared that Google would slow down hiring over the rest of the year and concentrate its efforts on certain projects. At the time, the company clarified that no layoffs were planned and that engineers and some technicians would still be hired in positions deemed essential.

With this new focus on productivity, Google recognizes that teams could be restructured, products discontinued or downgraded, and positions eliminated. Its incubator is the first division affected.

Several products have been released after an incubation period within Area 120 such as GameSnacks which is now integrated into Google Chrome, Tables (Google Cloud), AdLingo (a conversational advertising platform accessible on Google Cloud), the Tangi and Shoploop video platforms (attached respectively to Google Search and Google Shopping), Touring Bird (a travel application) and the technical maintenance platform Byteboard, which is one of the few divisions that has become independent.

THE 7 PROJECTS DETERMINED

Of the 14 incubated projects, only 7 remain. One of the projects being phased out has already seen the light of day. This is Qaya. This service helps content creators to develop a digital showcase in order to more easily market their creations (it is for example possible to put a link to this digital showcase on social networks). Qaya is integrated with Google Search and Google Shopping.

The other six canceled projects have yet to see the light of day. These are a financial accounting project for Google Sheet, a product related to purchases, analytics for virtual and augmented reality, and three climate-related projects (a map with charging stations for electric vehicles, count the carbon emissions of an IT project, measure carbon from forests).

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE PROJECTS

Last year, the incubator has already undergone a reorganization by being integrated within the new Google Labs division. Area 120 was bundled with other forward-looking Google projects like those related to virtual and augmented reality as well as its 3D video chat project known as Starline. Google Labs and the Starline project do not seem affected by these staff reductions for the moment.

From now on, Area 120 will focus on projects related to artificial intelligence and no longer feed more generally the creation of new products within Google. “We recently announced that Area 120 will be changing its mission to focus on projects that arise from Google’s significant investment in artificial intelligence and have the potential to solve user problems.” This explains the discontinuation of projects that no longer fall within this new framework.

Google wants to save money in its R&D Area 120 branch

Employees will be informed of the interventions this week. This is why a certain number of ongoing projects have already been reviewed or even cancelled. Previously, fourteen projects had been entrusted to Area 120. It would remain only seven. The employees concerned will have the possibility of applying elsewhere at Google, but those who are not selected, will have to leave the company, according to the sources.

The interventions must in particular ensure that Area 120 can focus more on artificial intelligence, one of Google’s top priorities. Area 120 currently employs just under 100 people, compared to 170 at the start of the year. Globally, Google has 170,000 employees.

Projects-passions

Area 120 was launched in 2016. This breeding ground where new ideas abound offers a select group of employees the opportunity to work in young shoots (start-ups) within Google itself. ‘A lot of Google’s best ideas start as passion projects,’ explains the Area 120 website. AI voice ad platform AdLingo, competitor AirTable, video platforms Tangi and Shoploop, and travel app Touring Bird. All these avant-garde ideas are included in Google Chrome, Search, Shopping or Cloud.

Google cancels up to 7 projects of its famous shuttle, what is happening in Mountain View?

Google created Area 120 as an experimental project launcher so teams of workers could create new projects that they could then hand off to users. Some ideas were able to flourish and reach users, such as the Stack document scanner.

However, others did not suffer the same fate. After a brief period of development, without even being released to the public, they were cancelled. This was the case with Museletter at the end of 2021, but the Mountain View company has canceled up to 7 Area 120 projects, according to the Android Authority.

What’s going on at Google?

As we learned, Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai has been talking about making Google more efficient for some time. Last July, an internal memo was leaked in which Pichai told its employees that the company should work with “more urgency, more focus and more hunger than we have shown in better days”. .

According to the source, at the last code conference, Pichai told attendees that he was trying to make Big G 20% more efficient. And now it looks like Google’s CEO is putting that idea into practice.

First, the cancellation of 7 projects has been confirmed. Of the 14 plans that the Area 120 had in progress, half are currently in development. However, canceling projects is not Sundar Pichai’s only effective measure. He’s speculated for a while that the Big G wanted to downsize, and apparently that’s what’s happening right now.

Apparently, last Tuesday, Google notified its employees that it was going to execute a “downsizing” that would affect Area 120. Anyone who worked on the Experimental Project Shuttle and had their project canceled, has time until January 2023 to find a new job. to the company or you’ll be fired.

The efforts of the Area 120 team would now shift, according to the manager of the project incubator, to perfecting projects geared towards artificial intelligence. This clashes head-on with the approach the division has had until now, in which incubation was encouraged across the company.

It appears that one of the cut projects was one that offered web commerce solutions for digital creators known as Qaya. This project, unlike the six others abandoned, had already been made public.

Apparently, Google isn’t the only one going through an “efficiency gain” situation. Other Silicon Valley giants like Coinbase, Netflix, and Shopify are laying off hundreds of employees, so we might see more news like this in the future.

Google is reducing its internal Area 120 incubation program

Google’s Area 120 is an internal incubator where employees work on new, experimental products that may or may not be released to the general public. Some of Google’s biggest hits, including Gmail, AdSense and Google News, started as Area 120 projects.

Today, as Google tries to save money and operate more efficiently, the search giant is said to be downsizing its incubation program.

Google has canceled or reorganized several Area 120 projects and has asked people working on these projects to quickly find a new job at Google or leave the company.

Google is removing half of the projects currently hosted in Area 120, reducing the number of active projects from 14 to just 7. Most of them hadn’t been released to the public yet, but one was already live: Qaya is a tool that allows content creators to create a personal storefront. It’s been available in early access since last year, but it looks like it’s not going any further for now.

She keeps projects related to AI

Area 120 projects have always been a fairly small part of Google’s business. Google has more than 170,000 employees, but Area 120 had just 170 at the start of the year, and less than 100 today. But it looks like the incubator could accommodate even smaller, more mission-focused teams from now on.

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