Twits Know: Google Quietly Laying Off Engineers

If you can believe conversations on Twitter, it seems Google has been quietly laying off engineers and changing the scope of their jobs. Apparently some of the work done by the “contractors” laid off over the past couple of months is now being added to their work load.

I follow a lot of people on Twitter – friends, industry acquaintances and many others (including major names in the industry). It was a public conversation started between a couple of the latter that got my attention.

Mary Hodder – or at least someone using her name at Twitter – founder of Dabble, a video search and metadata company, and a well known voice in the web space, mentioned that a couple of her engineering friends at Google had been let go, as well as others.

Her comments quickly started a Twitter conversation between her and John Battelle – well known tech guru, writer and founder of Wired and Federated Media Publishing. In short order, Motley Fool journalist and noted geek Tim Beyers joined in, as did a couple of other tech people.

Disgruntled engineers working 18 hour days, poor severance packages, and general malaise seem to be growing at Google – the place everyone wanted to work at one time. Even last year Google was able to get senior VPs to take lesser jobs to join the company that ‘does no evil’.

I have pieced together a bunch of the twits and have laid them out below.

Mary Hodder
Talkng to friend laid off from Google Friday. Others in their eng. gp as well. They don’t want to discuss publicly, but R ok w. my telling.

John Battelle
RT @MaryHodder: Talkng to friend laid off from Google Friday. Others in their eng. gp as well. They don’t want to discuss publicly, but…

Mary Hodder
We think Goog is quietly laying ppl off so as not to alert press. Mgrs have mandate to reduce headcnt, no matter how critical the project.

Tim Beyers
@MaryHodder Wow. That’s *very* big news. Can I refer to your tweets about the layoffs if I choose to write about it for The Motley Fool?

Tim Beyers
@MaryHodder Perhaps a severance issue but I’m more curious that these cuts come after the hullabaloo over options repricing.

Mary Hodder
@milehighfool don’t know but the severance pkgs for engs don’t sound too good. don’t know if due to longevity=they got stock before, or what
@johnbattelle full time eng on a critical path project. so were others.. 4-5 yr employees.
@johnbattelle no.. i think they are all in shock. they are all excellent engs.. so i think they will zip right into other jobs. but strange.
@johnbattelle i agree.. as more are laid off from Goog, i believe some will talk and it will be out.
@johnbattelle oddly, before this wk 2 othr Goog frnds told me uncomfortably they want to leave..was shocked, they hav grt jobs, but pressure
@johnbattelle thot Goog just wasn’t fun place anymore, but now think it could be really unpleasantly bad for ppl. don’t know, just anecdotal

Cindy Stanford
@MaryHodder How bad can the pressure be at Google that someone would want to leave a great job when the economy is what it is?

Mary Hodder
@hci don’t know, but these ppl sounded pretty uncomfortable. working 18 hr days .. if you have the big stock, might make you want to go.

Cindy Stanford
@MaryHodder I see, yes… 18 hrs/day, week after week. It’s a good reason to walk away if you have the assets to be financially independent.

Mary Hodder
@hci y, hard to say in 140 char, but for those w gd stock, they may leave, others.. no grt stock, may be in rough situation. hard to tell.
@moon no.. projects still there. my impression is Mgr told to reduce.. so they got rid of a couple of ppl.
@milehighfool my ?, is goog doing this quietly, trying to keep severances under control, these are the least likely to talk ppl.. so..

John Battelle
@MaryHodder I doubt it. Goog knows that people talk. Right?!

Interestingly two weeks ago, Valleywag had written that as many as 5% of Google’s engineers could be laid off in the coming months. “[I]f the rumor’s true. Google has approximately 6,000 engineers; a 5 percent cut, 300 people, would barely be felt by the organization… But the fear in the Googleplex is well-founded… And we hear that Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who set out to recreate at the Googleplex the academic environment they knew at Stanford University, are growing increasingly disenchanted with how soft and spoiled Google’s engineers have become,” Valley Wag reported.

Guess 18 hour days will see how soft the engineers have become – sort of like a football camp that pushes players until they quit. Should be some interesting conversations on Twiiter and other places this week.

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