As Google tries to navigate an unfamiliar environment of slowing growth, cost cutting and employee dissent over cultural changes, CEO Sundar Pichai is finding himself on the defensive.
At a companywide all-hands meeting this week, Pichai was faced with tough questions from employees related to cuts to travel and entertainment budgets, managing productivity and potential layoffs, according to audio obtained by CNBC.
Pichai was asked, in a question that was highly rated by staffers on Google's internal Dory system, why the company is "nickel-and-diming employees" by slashing travel and swag budgets at a time when "Google has record profits and huge cash reserves," as it did coming out of the pandemic.
“How do I say it?” Pichai began his measured response. “Look, I hope all of you are reading the news, externally. The fact that you know, we are being a bit more responsible through one of the toughest macroeconomic conditions underway in the past decade, I think it’s important that as a company, we pull together to get through moments like this.”
The most recent all-hands meeting comes as Google parent Alphabet, Meta and other tech companies are staring into a slew of economic challenges, including a potential recession, soaring inflation, rising interest rates and tempered ad spending. Companies that, for the past decade-plus, have been known for high growth and an abundance of fun perks, are seeing what it's like on the other side.