• Google will pull back on hiring for the remainder of 2020, CEO Sundar Pichai told staff today. 
  • In an internal email seen by Business Insider, Pichai said that the company will ‘significantly’ pull back on hiring and focus on key areas.
  • It had planned to hire 20,000 new recruits this year, matching its total for 2019.
  • “The clear lesson from 2008 is that preparing early is key to weathering the storm and emerging in a position to continue long-term growth, as we have done over the past decade,” Pichai wrote.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Google will slow down its hiring for the remainder of the year as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, CEO Sundar Pichai told the company in an email seen by Business insider.

Pichai sent an email to staff today confirming that the company will put on a recruitment freeze on all but a select few “strategic areas” for the remainder of 2020, as it weathers the effects of the pandemic.

“We believe now is the time to significantly slow down the pace of hiring,” wrote Pichai in the email that was sent around the company, adding that the company needed to “carefully prioritize” its recruitment for employees who will address the company’s “greatest user and business needs.”

While recent job listings suggested the company was hiring aggressively, it’s now clear that even Google is feeling the effects of the pandemic. In the letter, Pichai reflected on the 2008 financial crisis, writing that the “clear lesson” was to prepare early in order to emerge in a position “to continue long-term growth.” 

Pichai said the company would continue to invest beyond hiring, but that Google “will be recalibrating the focus and pace of our investments in areas like data centers and machines, and non business essential marketing and travel.”

Google’s hiring process is notoriously slow, but new recruits say the pipeline has been more sluggish than usual these past few weeks as the company has adjusted to having its workforce at home – something Pichai notes in the letter.

Her’s the letter in full:

Hi everyone,

It’s now been well over two months since we closed the first Google offices in Asia out of an abundance of caution around the spread of COVID-19. We couldn’t have imagined then how much could change, and how quickly for so many people around the world. Our thoughts remain with those who have lose loved ones and with those who are currently battling the disease.

We’re only a quarter of the way through 2020, and it’s already been the most unusual year in memory. None of us could have predicted that most of us would now be working from home during the biggest global pandemic of our lifetimes.

Despite these strange circumstances, it’s been remarkable to see us step up to meet this challenge by doing what we do best: being helpful. We’ve continued to show up for people in moments big and small, whether it’s providing accurate and authoritative information to keep families safe; supporting products and infrastructure to keep our and others’ services running; and delivering great content to keep people’s spirits up in tough moments. We’ve also committed more than $800 million in grants, loans and ad credits to help small businesses and others affected by COVID-19, and Google.org has committed $50 million (plus an additional $2,500 in gift-matching per Googler) to help communities all overt the world.

In addition to these efforts, many teams have been focused on helping governments and public health officials slow the spread of the disease. We’ve released insights based on aggregated, anonymized data to help public health experts measure the impact of social distancing measures. We announced a joint effort with Apple on contract tracing designed with strong privacy protections. And we’ve invested in ramping up testing (including through Verily) and the production of PPE and lifesaving medical devices.

I am so proud of the way we’ve come together across the company, and I want us to continue living up to our important mission in the weeks and months ahead. It won’t be easy. Just like the 2008 financial crisis, the entire global community is hurting, and Google and Alphabet are not immune to the effects of this global pandemic. We exist in an ecosystem of partnerships and interconnected businesses, many of whom are feeling significant pain.

The clear lesson from 2008 is that preparing early is key to weathering the storm and emerging in a position to continue long-term growth, as we have done over the past decade. So I wanted to share with you our current plans on what we think is the best path forward.

We are reevaluating the pace of our investment plans for the remainder of 2020. That starts with taking a more critical look at the pace of hiring for the rest of the year. For context, we hired 20,000 Googlers in 2019 and had been targeting similar numbers for 2020. We have already onboarded more than 4,000 Nooglers and Characters in the first quarter, and thousands of additional new hires are starting soon. Not only are we facing delays in getting everyone their essential equipment, such as laptops and security keys, there are challenges in getting Nooglers up to speed, trained and productive on their new teams.

We believe now is the time to significantly slow down the pace of hiring, while maintaining momentum in a small number of strategic areas where users and businesses rely on Google for ongoing support, and where our growth is critical to their success. By dialing back our plans in other areas, we can ensure Google emerges from this year at a more appropriate size and scale than we would otherwise. This means we need to carefully prioritize hiring employees who will address our greatest user and business needs. Your leads will be in touch about how this will work for your team.

Beyond hiring, we continue to invest, but will be recalibrating the focus and pace of our investments in areas like data centers and machines, and non business essential marketing and travel”

If you have any additional ideas about how we can free up or redeploy resources to make us more efficient and support our priorities, I welcome your thoughts and invite you to share them by replying here.

Amid this uncertainty, the bright spot for me has been watching everyone pitch in to help your teammates and communities, and to make things better for the people we serve. We’ll need that same level of energy, ingenuity and teamwork in the weeks and months ahead. Working together, I’m confident that we’ll emerge from this challenge in a strong position.

– Sundar”

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