Google employees have begun criticizing management, including CEO Sundar Pichai, over the company’s presentation of a ChatGPT competitor called Bard last week.
Employees took to the popular internal forum Memegen to express their thoughts on Bard’s announcement, calling it “rushed,” “botched” and “un-Googley,” according to posts and memes, viewed by CNBC.
Last Monday, Google preempted Microsoft’s move and CEO Sundar Pichai publicly revealed some details about the company’s own AI-powered chatbot. More about Bard became known a few days after the announcement during the presentation in Paris.
In between the events, Microsoft, which was an early investor in OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, demonstrated how its Bing search engine will integrate with the chatbot technology by inviting journalists to a demonstration at the company’s headquarters in Redmond.
During the presentation, Google’s head of search, Prabhakar Raghavan, briefly demonstrated several slides with examples of Bard’s capabilities. People who came to the event expected to hear more, and some employees didn’t even know about the event. One of the speakers even forgot to bring his smartphone, which was necessary for the demonstration.
Meanwhile, Reuters noticed that a Bard ad had a chatbot giving an incorrect answer about the telescope used to take the first images of a planet outside our solar system.
While Googlers often turn to Memegen to humorously poke fun at the company’s quirks and missteps, the posts following the Bard announcement took a more serious tone and even directly criticized Pichai.
“Dear Sundar, the Bard launch and the layoffs were rushed, botched, and myopic,” read one meme that included a serious picture of Pichai. “Please return to taking a long-term outlook.” The post received many upvotes from employees.
“Sundar, and leadership, deserve a Perf NI,” another highly rated meme read, referring to the lowest category in the company’s employee performance review system.
Last week, shares of Alphabet fell more than by 9% due to concerns about ChatGPT’s threat to Google’s core search business and the company’s hasty response to Microsoft’s presentation.
“Rushing Bard to market in a panic validated the market’s fear about us,” says one popular meme. It was accompanied by a photo of a bird making a facepalm.
Google’s stance on artificial intelligence is a familiar concern. At a December all-hands meeting, employees asked about the company’s competitive edge in AI as ChatGPT was taking off in the public eye. Executives responded by saying the company’s reputation could suffer if it moves too fast on AI-chat technology, which is far from perfect.
A highly read meme this week showed an image of a dumpster fire with the Google “G” logo on it. The text said, “How everything’s felt since last year.”
Another meme referred to the layoffs announced last month, which resulted in the loss of 12,000 jobs, or 6% of the company’s workforce. The meme included a photo of a smiling actor Nicolas Cage and the caption: “Firing 12k people rises the stock by 3%, one rushed AI presentation drops it by 8%.”