Last week at the Code conference, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said that the technology company should become 20% more efficient. Some in the industry took this as a hint of layoffs. Now this prediction may actually come true, reports TechCrunch. In particular, we are talking about the research and development incubator, better known as Area 120.
Google notified Area 120 staff of a “reduction in force” that would see the incubator halve in size. Previously, it had 14 projects, but now they have been reduced to seven. Employees were told they would need to find a new job at Google by the end of January 2023 or face being fired.
According to Area 120 head Elias Roman, the unit is looking to focus only on AI-focused projects, as opposed to its previous mandate of driving product incubation across Google.
“Area 120 is an in-house incubator for experimental new products. The group regularly starts and stops projects with an eye toward pursuing the most promising opportunities,” said a Google representative. “We’ve recently shared that Area 120 will be shifting its focus to projects that build on Google’s deep investment in AI and have the potential to solve important user problems. As a result, Area 120 is winding down several projects to make way for new work. Impacted team members will receive dedicated support as they explore new projects and opportunities at Google.”
Over the years, the division has produced a number of successful products, including the HTML5 gaming platform GameSnacks, now integrated with Google Chrome, an AirTable competitor called Tables, which moved to Google Cloud, the conversational advertising platform AdLingo powered by artificial intelligence, which also moved to the Cloud, video platforms Tangi and Shoploop, which entered Google Search and Shopping, respectively, travel web app Touring Bird, which moved to Commerce, and technical interview platform Byteboard.