Google Gashed?

Goodbye, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) . Your days of unlimited meals, unimpeded hiring, and spectacular growth are over. Again.

Multiple sites yesterday reported that Google might lay off as many as 10,000 workers, joining the pink-slip parade that Citigroup (NYSE: C  ) is leading down Wall Street, and which TiVo (Nasdaq: TIVO  ) , KLA-Tencor (Nasdaq: KLAC  ) , and Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO  ) are spearheading in Silicon Valley.

Unfortunately, no one had expected Google to report cuts, even in the face of slowing demand for online ads. The rumor sunk the search king's stock, which fell close to 2% during yesterday's massive market rally.

But 10,000 layoffs? Really? Really? Silicon Valley's WebGuild blog seems to think so. But it may also be suggesting that Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are not just evil, but also some sort of robber barons.

"By law, Google is required to report layoffs publicly and with the SEC however, Google has managed to get around the legal requirement. In fact, one of the ways Google was able to meet Wall Street’s Q3 earnings expectations was by trimming 'operational' expenses," wrote Daya Baran, against a backdrop that shows Page and Brin luxuriating in a hot tub -- as if cutting costs were, indeed, the work of the devil.

That's just classy. But it gets better. Baran misquotes Brin saying that "there is no question that the number (of workers) is too high." What he actually told the San Jose Mercury News' Elise Ackerman last month:

"It's really high," Brin said of the number of contractors. He said Google began looking at the number six months ago and has a plan to significantly reduce that number through vendor management, converting some contractors to regular employees, and other approaches.

A subtle difference? Sure. But Baran's article comes just short of accusing DoubleGoo of fraud. Color me nonplussed.

I have no doubt that Google is trimming expenses, as Brin says. Some of those cuts are sure to involve contractors. But shouldn't we have expected this? Google has been sacrificing mojo for profits for months now. Revenue increased just 31% in the third quarter. Oooooooo, spooky!

Google's super-duper-sized salad days are over. So what? It's still one of the one of the world's best growth stocks. And it will continue to be, even if there are fewer brains behind the big ideas.

Take a cue from my kids and chillax, Fool.

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Fool contributor Tim Beyers had stock and options positions in Google at the time of publication. See his portfolio holdings and more of his Foolish writings. The Fool's disclosure policy needs to lie down for a minute.


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