Alphabet robotics division Intrinsic hit with layoffs

It’s a new year, but the industry’s struggles are showing no signs of abating. Big firms are as susceptible — if not more so. This week, Alphabet joined the growing list of tech giants making staff cuts amid ongoing economic struggles. Following a wave of layoffs from the likes of Amazon, Meta and Salesforce, Alphabet has begun letting people go.

The company’s “Other Bets” division is the first to see impact. As the name not so subtly implies, these divisions operate outside key focuses like search and ads. With many of the firms having graduated from the Alphabet X moonshot factory, the operation has taken on an almost in-house accelerator style role.

Earlier this week, life science firm Verily got hit with a 15% cut, amounting to around 240 people.

“While these programs are promising and led by talented Veeps, and some of their innovations will integrate into our other core solutions, we cannot do everything and have had to make some difficult choices,” CEO Stephen Gillett said in a blog post. “Some Veeps will be redeployed to other teams; others will unfortunately be leaving us. These people have helped make Verily the company it is today, and I know how hard it is to see valued friends and colleagues depart.”

Alphabet’s robot software firm, Intrinsic, has also been impacted. It will be laying off 40 employees TechCrunch has confirmed. It’s a big hit for the young division, amounting to around 20% of headcount. It’s also, frankly, a bit of an about-face for an area that appeared to be growing quickly. In fact, our last two conversations with the company have centered around acquisitions. In less than a year, Intrinsic has acquired both Vicarious and Open Robotics — the latter having been announced less than a month ago.

“Intrinsic’s leadership has made the difficult decision to let go a number of our team members,” a spokesperson told TechCrunch. “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.”

At the very least, it’s a big hit for an organization just getting its sea legs. There are a lot of companies competing in the same space as Intrinsic, so it’s hard to say how much of a step back such news will ultimately be.

Earlier this week, fellow X robotics alum Mineral announced that it had just graduated from the lab.

Alphabet robotics division Intrinsic hit with layoffs by Brian Heater originally published on TechCrunch

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