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Alphabet layoffs impact robot and health efforts as X said to be scaling back

Amid the current economic environment, the first layoffs at Alphabet are impacting companies working on health (Verily) and robotics (Intrinsic), while the X Moonshot Factory is also curtailing spending.

According to the Wall Street Journal today, Verily Life Sciences is “laying off more than 200 employees as part of a broader reorganization, the first major staff reductions to hit Google’s parent.” The medical company has a staff of over 1,600, and this is a 15% trim. 

“Several early-stage products” and Verily Value Suite — a medical analytics tool — are being discontinued. The company is instead focusing on research and care products. 

Additionally, The Information reported this afternoon that Intrinsic, which is Alphabet’s industrial robotics effort, is “laying off 40 employees.” Intrinsic tells us this is around 17% of the company, which was spun out in 2022 and focuses on robots in factories for manufacturing (rather than personal home usage).

“Intrinsic’s leadership has made the difficult decision to let go a number of our team members. We have communicated the news directly with them. We fully acknowledge how hard this will be and are offering as much proactive support as possible. This decision was made in light of shifts in prioritization and our longer-term strategic direction. It will ensure Intrinsic can continue to allocate resources to our highest priority initiatives, such as building our software and AI platform, integrating the recent strategic acquisitions of Vicarious and OSRC (commercial arm Open Robotics), and working with key industry partners. While incredibly tough to do, we believe this decision is necessary for us to continue our mission.” 

Intrinsic

These companies, along with Waymo, Wing drone deliveries, and Google Fiber, are grouped under Other Bets. In the third quarter, that group reported $209 million in revenue but an operating loss of $1.6 billion, which is par for the course.

Meanwhile, Business Insider yesterday published a current look at the X Moonshot Factory. It makes the case that the R&D group, with around 500 employees, is “moving further away from its original premise, scaling back on its most ambitious projects in search of bets with more immediate revenue-generating potential.”

People internally have noticed projects being killed earlier than usual, while X is no longer working on a “Wolverine” wearable to enhance hearing. Rather, that project is now a startup outside of Alphabet. Some of its biggest ideas have failed (Loon internet balloons), while other graduates, like Waymo and Wing, are taking some time to scale. Hardware efforts are said to be taking a backseat to AI ones.

Overall, X is looking to spin out more projects and establish them as being more self-sufficient and ultimately profitable.

Meanwhile, Google itself has yet to announce layoffs.

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