Leaks prompt Google CEO to cut down on meetings, leaked email says

Google CEO Sundar Pichai told staffers that the company will cut down on its employee town hall meetings in response to leaks, according to reports based on a leaked email.

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Pichai said in the email Friday that the “TGIF” meetings will be cut back from a weekly to a monthly schedule, The Verge reported. He said there were three reasons behind the change, including what he called “a coordinated effort” to leak the conversations outside the company, according to the leaked email.

“I know this is new information to many of you, and it has affected our ability to use TGIF as a forum for candid conversations on important topics,” Pichai said in the email.

The CEO didn’t call out any specific leaks, but Google employees have used leaks to protest contracts the company has taken with some government agencies like ICE or plans for a censored search engine in China. And in 2017, Google employees leaked a memo written by a company engineer who claimed women have a “lower stress tolerance” and a “harder time” leading, The Associated Press reported at the time.

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Sundar Pichai speaks onstage at an event. The Google CEO said in a leaked email that the company will cut down on its town hall meetings due to leaks.

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Explaining the meeting change, Pichai also said people come to the meetings with different expectations, with some wanting to hear about product launches and business strategies, and others seeking answers on other topics, according to the report.

“By splitting the difference every week, we’re not serving either purpose very well,” he wrote.

The audience for the meetings has also declined as Google has grown and spread to offices outside its headquarters, Pichai said. While 80 percent of employees watched the meetings a decade ago, only 25 percent watch them now.

View of the new Google building in the West Loop, Fulton Market area of downtown Chicago.

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The monthly meetings will focus on product and business strategy, Pichai said. They will include Q&As on the topics discussed in the meetings. Google will also hold town halls on “important workplace issues,” according to the email. But company executives plan to use more videos to communicate with employees spread across the world.

“We’re hoping this mix of forums will provide a better experience for Googlers,” he said in the email. “We know you have only so much time to attend meetings and we want to spend it well.”

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