Google to close offices, ditch services

January 16, 2009 // 9:10 a.m.

Tags: #credit-crunch #google #job-losses #layoff #layoffs #office-closures #search

The spending slowdown is starting to affect even the traditional industry stalwarts, with giant Google announcing cutbacks and service changes in order to curb spending.

In a series of announcements from each individual Google department – collated and listed by BetaNews yesterday – the company announced a series of job losses and office closures worldwide, alongside changes to services the company current offers.

The office closures are taking place in the US, Sweden, and Norway with one office being closed in each country. The offices are believed to be centres for engineering, and while staff are encouraged to find jobs elsewhere in the company the senior vice president for engineering, Alan Eustice, has said that “we may not be able to keep 100 percent of these exceptional employees.

With the company looking to curb spending, it's not a good time to be recruiting: accordingly, 100 positions in the company's recruitment departments are to be eliminated. The story is much the same as with the engineering staff, with the company hoping that the majority of staff will be able to find other positions in different departments.

Certain Google projects are also being eliminated or modified to reduce expenditure, with the announcements that Google Video will no longer be accepting new submissions – which makes sense when you consider that Google also owns the far more popular YouTube video sharing site – and that the team behind Google's Book Search will be discontinuing their efforts to digitise printed catalogues.

In addition to these moves, the company has announced that it is to wash its hands of the Jaiku microblogging engine it developed once it has been released as an open source project under the Apache license, relying instead on the open source community to develop it further. The mobile social networking service Dodgeball is also for the chop, and sadly won't be entering the public domain in the same way. Mashup Editor is being ditched in favour of the App Engine, which will remain, and the popular web clipping system Google Notebook will be discontinued.

While nobody would accuse Google of being in financial trouble, it's clear that the company is eliminating non-essentials in order to ensure its survival through the current financial slowdown. Whether this is an opportunity for the company's many competitors to get an edge and wrest the search engine crown away from Google remains to be seen – but in today's climate, it'd have to be a company with seriously deep pockets.

Are there any projects in the ash-can list that you'll miss, or is Google performing a much-needed early spring clean? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

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