Waymo Layoff 2023: why they cut off employees?

waymo layoff 2023

Is there Waymo layoff in 2023? Alphabet’s Waymo has announced its second wave of layoffs this year, the company confirmed. Besides the original layoffs from January, the self-driving technology startup has fired 209 staff members. It is 8% of its total workforce.

These layoffs primarily affect engineering positions. This is part of a larger organizational restructuring that uses a “disciplined approach,” a Waymo spokeswoman said. To put it another way, the business is reducing expenses where it can while continuing to build and use its technologies.

Waymo is working to make self-driving car technology more available. But there is still a long way to go and little money coming in to support operations. Let us view this business in detail in this article.

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Overview of Waymo

waymo layoff 2023

An American firm that develops autonomous driving technology is Waymo LLC. The business was originally known as the Google Self-Driving Car Project. It has its corporate headquarters in Mountain View, California. It is a division of Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent firm.

In January 2009, Sergey Brin, a co-founder of Google, started working on developing self-driving technology at the Google X lab. The project was started by Anthony Levandowski, the creator of 510 Systems and Anthony’s Robots, and Sebastian Thrun, the head of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (SAIL). In December 2016, Waymo was chosen as the project’s new name due to a Google organizational restructure.

Waymo runs commercial self-driving taxi services in San Francisco, California, and Phoenix, Arizona. The business opened up the service to the general public in October 2020. It was the only commercial self-driving service available then that didn’t have backup drivers in the car. Additionally, Waymo creates driving technology for use in other automobiles. Delivery vans and Class 8 tractor-trailers for logistics are included in this.

Co-CEOs Tekedra Mawakana and Dmitri Dolgov lead Waymo. The business has received $5.5 billion in outside capital through several rounds. To incorporate its technology, Waymo has collaborated with other automakers. This includes Mercedes-Benz Group AG, Nissan-Renault, Stellantis, Jaguar Land Rover, Volvo, and Geely.

The Information claimed in January 2023 that employees of Waymo were among the 12,000 or more Google employees that lost their jobs. Waymo is reportedly about to end its trucking program, according to TechCrunch.

Waymo’s second wave of layoffs

The Waymo cutbacks come after a flurry of job losses at Alphabet and Google in January. Alphabet is one of many American businesses that have cut workers to prepare for a coming recession. Waymo’s layoffs, according to some analysts and investors, aren’t just a result of a weak market. Waymo’s parent firm has made a significant investment in the business. But activist investor TCI Fund Management claimed last year that Waymo hasn’t yet shown that the investment is worthwhile.

The announcement of further layoffs came the same week that Waymo revealed plans to begin testing completely autonomous cars in Los Angeles. These are cars without a human safety operator in the driver’s seat.

The key to Waymo’s business strategy is expanding the robo taxi service to new cities. As a result, it might offer a good return on investment. Yet, it will be years before the company generates enough revenue to offset its financial outflow.

According to Waymo, the business is in a solid position with a clear future direction and a huge chance to grasp. A spokeswoman mentioned Waymo’s expanding commercial operations in Phoenix and San Francisco as examples of its capacity to create, install, and market its self-driving technology.

Layoff drive

Waymo, a division of Alphabet Inc., has laid off 137 workers as part of its second round of employment cuts this year, the company said in March 2023. This results in a total 8% (209 employees) reduction in the company’s workforce.

In a formal statement, Waymo explained that “to concentrate on commercial success,” it has removed several engineering positions. Thus, it was done as part of the downsizing.

Waymo’s employment losses are part of broader industry-wide layoffs in the auto and tech sectors. It also involves General Motors Co., Rivian Automotive Inc., and Meta Platforms Inc.

Companies have generally discovered that creating completely autonomous vehicles (AVs) that can travel anywhere has been more difficult. It is also more expensive than anticipated. Also, the possibility of a successful robotaxi business is still several years away.

Investors and industry observers have raised concerns. It is over the huge sums of money invested in commercializing self-driving technology.

In November, Ford Motor Company and Volkswagen AG ended their collaboration on the autonomous vehicle Argo AI. According to Reuters, General Motors Co. spent about $2 billion on its Cruise robotaxi unit in 2022 and expects to spend even more this year.

Alphabet announced in January that it would cut 12,000 positions. This would have an impact on many workers who support experimental projects. Verily Life Sciences, a company’s division that deals with health sciences, reported in January that it had fired over 200 workers or 15% of its personnel.

Many large software giants, unicorns, and startups have laid off tens of thousands of workers in the year’s first two months. Also, more layoffs are coming. Yet, despite the current wave of mass layoffs, many Indian businesses are still hiring, and the IT industry leads in job openings.

There are tens of thousands of job postings at major IT companies like TCS, Infosys, HCL Tech Mahindra, Wipro, LTIMindtree, Coforge, and others.

When will the layoffs at Alphabet end?

Layoffs are never easy, but the firm wants to install them all at once, informing employees that the changes have been made. Thus, employees can stop wondering and resume their jobs. When Google announced its first significant round of layoffs in January, it eliminated 12,000 positions. Following that announcement, employees were meant to be promptly informed of the changes. In March, more cuts were continuously implemented. Alphabet’s “Everyday Robots” division was shut down, and the team was let go.

Despite being around for 14 years, Waymo hasn’t experienced much “commercial success.” It is, without a doubt, the industry leader in self-driving car technology. If it could be adopted, Waymo would profit. The trucking industry may undergo a revolution; Uber and Lyft, which must pay their drivers, may be affected. Also, an extensive number of technology license agreements with automakers may result. But the journey there is one with no end in sight.

Waymo advances consistently. It recently declared that it had reached 1 million kilometers of “rider-only” travel, or trips during which no driver existed. The company is also developing an all-electric minivan with no human controls. It’s a second driverless vehicle built from scratch. The business only offers its “Waymo One” ride-hailing service in San Francisco and Phoenix, where it makes pitiful amounts of money. Concerns about cost, safety, and readiness are always raised when it comes to the topic of whether or how Waymo will scale.

Google is a dynamic organization. The business’s co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, claimed that “Google is not a conventional company.” They said this at the time of its initial public offering in 2004. We do not aim to become one,” indicating that even though stock sales would begin, the company would not be subject to the fluctuations of Wall Street.

The company was set up using a dual-class voting structure. This gives Page and Brin the sole authority to determine the company’s course. Also, it was set up to avoid having to listen to investors interested in the coming quarter.

But those founders are no longer with the company. The current CEO, Sundar Pichai, has transformed Google into a more traditional business. Page and Brin believed that making Google the best workplace would help attract bright individuals. The 12,000 job losses in January were the most significant layoffs Google had ever experienced.

Conclusion

Christopher Hohn of TCI Fund Management, an activist investor who now appears to have Pichai’s ear, sees those 12,000 job cuts as “a step in the right direction.” Hohn wants Google to decrease costs by eliminating 25,000 positions and paying its workers less. In some of his statements, Hohn has singled out Waymo in particular, stating that:

“Enthusiasm for self-driving cars ended, and competitors have exited the market. Waymo has failed to justify its excessive investment, and its losses should be reduced considerably.”

The largest component of Google’s “Other Bets” line item, which covers all Alphabet companies besides Google, is Waymo. Alphabet can afford it because it produced about $60 billion in profit in 2022. But Google’s long-term research expenditures in Alphabet businesses cost it $6 billion a year, a figure Hohn wants to see cut in half.

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