Google lays off staff in Singapore; employees say about 190 people affected

Google lays off staff in Singapore; employees say about 190 people affected
The lobby of Google’s Asia Pacific headquarters in Singapore at Mapletree Business City. (Photo: CNA/Gaya Chandramohan)

SINGAPORE: An estimated 190 employees from Google’s Asia-Pacific headquarters in Singapore were laid off on Thursday (Feb 16) night, three sources told CNA on Friday.

That accounts for about 5.5 per cent to 6 per cent of Google’s workforce in Singapore, they said.

One of the sources, an employee who was affected by the layoffs, said: “Hard to confirm exact numbers. It’s hard to figure (out) who’s been affected.

“Folks are trying to piece it together by talking to others.”

The two other sources are a current employee and Mr Christopher Fong, who founded the global Xoogler community for former Google workers.

A spokesperson for Google said it was “unable to share” the number of employees in Singapore who were affected by the layoffs, but confirmed they were part of job cuts earlier announced by Google’s parent company Alphabet.

Last month, Alphabet said it was cutting 12,000 jobs, about 6 per cent of its workforce.

Mr Fong told CNA that the layoffs hit people from various departments including sales, Google Cloud, Google Pay, recruiting, finance and legal.

He added that Xoogler is holding a gathering on Friday evening for those who were affected by the layoffs. About 50 people in Singapore registered for the gathering.

Some people expected to be laid off because their counterpart teams in other parts of the world were affected, he said.

The community had 14,800 members before the global layoffs were announced, and that figure has since grown to 26,000, said Mr Fong. He added that more programmes are being organised to help those affected.


Several employees from the Singapore office posted on LinkedIn about the layoffs.

Qierra C, who was part of the recruiting department, said she was among those affected by the layoffs in Singapore. She thanked the “amazing team” that she worked with.

“The people were the best part of Google,” she wrote.

Can Köklü, whose profile states he was a customer engineer in the Google Cloud team, also wrote on LinkedIn that he was laid off after being at the company for seven years.

In his post, he said his colleagues were the “true value” of working at Google, describing them as talented, knowledgeable, kind and supportive.

“It’s not easy to say goodbye to an incredible community, but I am so grateful for the experiences and memories I’ve had here,” he wrote.

He also addressed people who were laid off by Google, writing that the layoff is not a reflection of their value.

Another Google employee Toby Hull wrote that he had just moved to Singapore and signed a long lease on an “overpriced apartment”.

He said he received an email on Thursday night that said his role “no longer exists”.

“So in all honesty this is tough, I loved the team, I loved what we were doing and I loved where we were going,” wrote Mr Hull, who was a manager at YouTube partner experiences, according to his LinkedIn profile.

“I am not bitter, it was an awesome opportunity and one that I will cherish,” he said.

In a staff memo on Jan 20, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said he took “full responsibility” for the decisions that led to the layoffs.

The Alphabet Workers Union said his words were of little comfort.

“It’s appalling that our jobs are first on the chopping block so shareholders can see a few more points in a chart next quarter,” it added.

The redundancies at Google come on the back of thousands of layoffs at other tech giants that are downsizing after a pandemic-led hiring spree left them flabby in a weak economy.

Manpower Minister Tan See Leng said in Parliament last November that 1,270 local workers in the tech sector were retrenched between July to mid-November 2022. Twitter, Facebook parent Meta and Shopee retrenched employees in Singapore last year.

Source: CNA/an(mi)