Google's parent Alphabet is cutting about 12,000 jobs, or 6% of its workforce, it said in a staff memo today, as the technology sector reels from layoffs and companies stake their futures on artificial intelligence (AI).

Google employs more than 5,000 people directly in Ireland. Its total Irish workforce is around 9,000 when contractors are included.

It is not yet clear what impact the announcement will have in Ireland.

A spokesperson for Google Ireland said that it had nothing to add beyond what was contained in the CEO's blog post.

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The Minister for Business, Simon Coveney will meet with the head of Google Ireland next Tuesday.

Mr Coveney said that he has "yet to understand the impact" that Google's plans to reduce its work force will or won't have on Ireland.

He said he will have a "detailed discussion" with the head of Google Ireland next week to understand Google's plans globally and here in Ireland.

Mr Coveney said that the company had been "good to Ireland", employing 9,000 people here.

However he said it was "important to understand the context" around the company's announcement that it plans to reduce its workforce.

He said that this is part of a wider "global correction across the tech industry", and that there have been a number of examples of this.

Mr Coveney also said that in the first nine months of last year, Google and its parent company employed an extra 30,000 people, and is "now making a correction to reduce the workforce by 12,000 people globally".

The cuts come at a delicate moment for the US company, which has long been the leader in key areas of AI research.

Alphabet now faces a challenge from Microsoft in a branch of technology that can, for instance, create virtually any content a user can think up and type in a text box.

Microsoft this week said recession worries were forcing it to shed 10,000 jobs, less than 5% of its workforce, and it would focus on imbuing its products with more AI going forward - a point Alphabet's CEO Sundar Pichai echoed in the memo.

Alphabet faced "a different economic reality" from the past two years when it rapidly expanded headcount, decisions for which Mr Pichai said he took "full responsibility".

Mr Pichai became Alphabet CEO in 2019.

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Still, he said, Google was gearing up "to share some entirely new experiences for users, developers and businesses," and the company has "a substantial opportunity in front of us with AI across our products".

The company has been working on a major AI launch, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters. One of the sources said it would take place in the spring of this year.

Susannah Streeter, an analyst with Hargreaves Lansdown, said Alphabet's advertising business, which underpins Google's search engine and YouTube, was not immune to economic turbulence.

"Ad growth has come off the boil, a sharp contrast from the busy days of the post-pandemic re-opening which saw a surge in consumer spending," she said. The company faces competitive and regulatory threats as well, she said.

It was unclear if Alphabet would take a one-time financial charge related to the job cuts. Microsoft's severance packages, lease consolidation and hardware-lineup changes will cost it more than $1 billion, it said earlier this week.

Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai

Alphabet's layoffs followed a review of its people and priorities, leading to a workforce reduction hitting various geographies, Mr Pichai said.

Among those losing their jobs are recruiters, corporate staff and people working on engineering and product teams, he added.

In the US, where Alphabet has already emailed affected employees, staff would receive severance and six months of healthcare, as well as immigration support.

One person who said he worked on Google's Chrome browser posted on Twitter that he had lost his job even as he stepped into a leadership position on a project.

Overseas, layoff notifications will take longer due to local employment laws and practices, Mr Pichai said in the memo.

Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Simon Coveney has said he would meet Google Ireland next week to clarify the impact of today's announcement.