Annual Filing Shows Google Recruiters Took a Hit

By Staff Report

Feb. 24, 2010

Google Inc. may be the epitome of a recession-proof company, having earned sizable profits throughout the recession. But its workforce has not been so immune.

The Mountain View, California-based technology juggernaut reduced the size of its workforce—focusing in part on its recruiters—last year for the first time in its gilded corporate history, according to public filings and statements in 2009 by Google executives. Google also announced on its blog in early 2009 that it cut jobs in sales and marketing.

The company had 19,835 full-time employees at the end of 2009, compared with 20,222 a year earlier, it said in its annual report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on February 12.

Google dipped to as few as 19,665 employees at the end of the third quarter.

A leaner Google said it improved the “discipline” of its hiring—a reference to layoffs within the company’s recruiting organization announced early last year.

Google was able to increase its net income compared with the same period to $1.97 billion in the fourth quarter of 2009, compared with $382 million at the end of 2008.

The company said in its annual report that “we expect to continue to invest in our business, including significantly increasing our hiring rate, and this may cause our operating margins to decrease.”

The company did not say whether it laid off employees or that the drop in headcount was the result of attrition. Google announced several small rounds of layoffs beginning at the end of 2008 and again in the spring of 2009, but in each instance the company added that it was going to continue to hire, only at a slower rate.

Among the first let go were contractors providing recruitment services, said Laszlo Bock, the company’s vice president for people operations, in a memo in January 2009.

Executives at Google had expressed concern about a brain drain as other technology firms poached its most talented employees.

According to published reports, Justice Department officials are investigating whether an informal agreement reportedly made among Google, Apple and others in the high-tech industry to not poach one another’s employees violates antitrust laws.

The Wall Street Journal reported last year that the company is developing an algorithm to determine which employees are most likely to quit.

Google made its initial public offering in the summer of 2004 with a workforce that totaled about 2,300 full-time employees. Google beefed up its recruiting efforts and went on a hiring spree over the next four years.

At the end of 2006, the company had 10,674 employees. The company’s headcount peaked at 20,222 full-time employees at the end of 2008.

—Jeremy Smerd

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