Google CEO says employees shouldn't 'equate fun with money’

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai urged his employees not to "equate fun with money" during a company-wide town hall event last week.

Pichai made the comments after employees complained that Google was restricting benefits for travel, as well as on-site entertainment and other perks, according to a recording of the meeting obtained by CNBC. The employees argued the company was "nickel-and-diming" them even as Google sees record-breaking profits.

"How do I say it?" Pichai responded. "Look, I hope all of you are reading the news, externally. The fact that you know, we are being a bit more responsible through one of the toughest macroeconomic conditions underway in the past decade, I think it’s important that as a company, we pull together to get through moments like this."

"I remember when Google was small and scrappy," he continued. "Fun didn’t always — we shouldn’t always equate fun with money. I think you can walk into a hard-working startup and people may be having fun and it shouldn’t always equate to money."

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BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 06: Sundar Pichai speaks onstage Vox Media’s 2022 Code Conference – Day 1 on September 06, 2022 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images for Vox Media) ((Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images for Vox Media) / Getty Images)

Google headquarters is seen in Mountain View, California, United States on October 28, 2021. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images) (Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images / Getty Images)

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Pichai and other executives went on to urge employees not to go all-out on expenses for upcoming holiday parties. Google finance chief Kristin Reinke also cut back on the importance of teams working together in person.

"Where you have summits and big meetings, please try to do them in the office. We definitely want people to still have fun. We know there’s holiday parties coming up, there’s year-end celebrations, we still want people to do that. But we’re just asking them to keep them small, keep them informal — try not to go over the top," Reinke said.

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In late July, Google's parent company, Alphabet, reported about $69.69 billion in second-quarter revenues for 2022, compared to roughly $61.88 for the same period last year.

Alisinn Murphy contributed to this report.

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