NIX Solutions: Google Search Chief Urges Employees to ‘Act Faster’ Because ‘Everything Has Changed’

Google’s search chief, Prabhakar Raghavan, who oversees search, advertising, maps, and commerce and reports directly to CEO Sundar Pichai, addressed Google’s knowledge and information division, which has more than 25,000 full-time employees. Google’s digital advertising business has become “the envy of the world,” he said, but “that doesn’t mean life will remain rosy forever.”

“I think we can agree that things are not the same as they were 15-20 years ago, things have changed,” Raghavan said, referring to the search industry, which Google dominated for two decades, becoming one of the most profitable and valuable companies on the planet. Over the past three years, annual revenue has grown by more than $100 billion.


Adapting to Increased Competition

At a company known in Silicon Valley for its gourmet free lunches and generous benefits, Raghavan’s report could be considered the latest warning to employees that Google’s growth is becoming increasingly difficult. He cited increased competition and a more complex regulatory environment. Raghavan spoke about the need to speed up projects under development and reduce time standards for generating reports. He also said that the company plans to get closer to users in key markets, including India and Brazil.

Facing Challenges in AI and Regulatory Environment

Google is facing serious pressure from companies like Microsoft and OpenAI in the field of generative artificial intelligence. “People come to us because they trust us,” Raghavan said. “They might have a new gizmo that they like to play with, but they still come to Google to check out what they see there because it’s a trusted source, and it’s becoming more important in the age of generative AI.”

Navigating Through Restructuring and Cost-Cutting Measures

Google has been in cost-cutting mode since early 2023, when it cut about 12,000 jobs, accounting for 6% of the company’s workforce. Layoffs have continued this year, and the company is currently restructuring its financial services, which will entail additional staff reductions.

Strategies Amidst Highs and Lows

Raghavan noted that the company has seen a lot of developments in the last three months, including “really high highs and low lows.” Google unveiled its AI-powered image generator, but was forced to shut it down after a short period of time due to a host of glitches that went viral on the internet. Google is reorganizing amid an AI boom that is causing more users to abandon traditional internet searches.

Addressing Systemic Problems

Raghavan believes Google needs to address its systemic problems and build “new muscles that we may have allowed to languish for a while.” He noted employees working on the large Gemini language model increased their work hours from 100 to 120 per week to fix the image generation tool in a timely manner. This helped the team fix about 80% of the problems in just 10 days, he said. However, the ability to generate images of people is still not available.

Streamlining Processes

Many Google employees complain about the company’s rampant bureaucracy, which prevents them from launching products quickly. The situation became noticeably worse when the company dramatically increased its workforce during the pandemic. In 2022, in addition to Google’s annual survey called Googlegeist, Sundar Pichai launched the Simplicity Sprint to gather employee feedback on performance, reminds NIX Solutions.

Raghavan said that active work is underway to eliminate unnecessary layers in the hierarchy. “The [huge] number of agreements and approvals required to bring a good idea to market is not the Google way. We should not act like this,” Raghavan said. “We’ve learned a lot over the last few quarters. I can’t tell you that all the failures are behind me. It’s how we react and what we learn that matters.” We’ll keep you updated on Google’s strategies and responses to these challenges.