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Layoffs at Google.

It's old news now, and here's the official blogpost.

This was the second round of layoffs at Google, but this one cut much closer to home. So far, at least 3 people that I worked with on a regular basis were given 2 months to find another job within Google or outside the company.

As far as I could tell, it came as a shock to everyone concerned. I'm conflicted about how I feel...

Do I think Google could've handled it better?
No. No one is perfect, but Google's executive team comes close. Its hard for me to imagine a more perfect (i.e. real, insightful but heartfelt) response than the one that Eric Schmidt gave when questioned (internally) about this.

Do I think it'll change things at Google?
Yes, but hopefully not too much. 200 employees is approximately 1% of the company; that's really nothing in this environment. I mean, there are companies that try to weed out the bottom 5% of their employees every year.

The very first time I was looking for a full-time job was in 2002, when the effects of the tech bubble were still reverberating in Silicon Valley. While I was lucky to end up where I did, seeing friends laid off and not find jobs for years, meant that I was always a little nervous during my first few months at work. Even the borderline work-a-holic that I am, I'm sure that experience pushed me a little bit harder.

There is a difference between being motivated by fear and by ambition though. At Google, the thought of losing my job had never even crossed my mind even as I saw so many friends go through personal and professional turmoil in this environment...until Thursday. The fact that I was working at Google on stuff I loved was motivation enough, and I figured thats all that mattered. I'm still not concerned, but given my risk profile changed recently (marriage + one more Salgar goes to b-school :)) so perhaps I shouldn't be as blase.

The after-effects do concern me. People take fewer risks and crony-ism increases, when people are worried about their jobs; and in this environment its impossible for them not to be. I don't know what'll happen at Google, but this tendency is worth for everyone to watch against.

I still believe culturally there's no company in the world better suited to get through this and come out stronger, but I guess I'd expected we wouldn't need to go through it at all. I was a little sadder leaving work on Thursday and Friday, mainly for the people that lost their jobs and a little because I think this pokes a hole in the bubble that us Googlers seemed to live in.


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