This year will be Sundar Pichai’s first full year as alphabet’s leader, and he will face many challenges, including an eight-fold increase in the number of employees compared with a decade ago. Alphabet employees recently said they believed Google was no longer the company they first joined because of changes in organizational structure and the founder’s vision.
A few days later, Ross LaJeunese, Google’s head of international relations, said he had been ousted from the company, which often touted ethics above profit in the early stages of development, because of human rights concerns.
The rapid growth of employees is clearly one of the reasons for this change.
When Eric Schmidt took over as CEO from co-founder Larry Page in 2001, the company had fewer than 300 employees. According to its annual report, by the time it went public in 2004, it had grown tenfold to more than 3,000 employees.
When Larry Page, Google’s co-founder, returned as CEO in 2011, the company grew tenfold again, employing more than 32,000 people.
More than four years later, when Google restructured into Alphabet, its workforce nearly doubled to 61,814. As part of the restructuring, the parent company separated Google from other businesses such as Google X, Fiber and Google Ventures. Mr. Pichai was promoted to CEO of Google, while Mr. Page was ceo of Alphabet.
Alphabet has more than 89,000 employees in 2018. Google said at the time that it was growing faster outside its Silicon Valley headquarters and opened offices and data centers across the country, including a 1.7 million-square-foot (160,000-square-meter) office in New York that could accommodate 7,000 employees.
When the founder officially stepped down as CEO and president in December 2019 and appointed Pichai as CEO of Alphabet, the company had more than 114,000 employees. The largest additions were to Google’s cloud and search businesses, according to company filings.
Some former employees say the growth is not well managed. A former engineering director recently said one reason he left Google was that senior management had begun to pay more attention to staff numbers in recent years. As a result, the company is reluctant to lay off vulnerable teams that could affect them and other organizations.
As it continues to grow rapidly, Google needs to add space in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2019, the company announced plans to build an 8 million-square-foot (740,000-square-meter) campus near downtown San Jose, less than 15 miles from Mountain View’s headquarters, with a capacity of up to 20,000 employees.
Shortly after the announcement, the company also pledged $1 billion in housing investment to help address the region’s housing crunch.