Google's Motorola Mobility may close its Toulouse facility

Dec 27, 2012
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After going through what seems like endless rounds of restructuring, divestitures, and layoffs, the Motorola Toulouse facility looks like it will be hit with more.  As reported by La Depeche du Midi and AFP,  employees of Motorola Mobility, now a Google operation, were informed by management just before Christmas that the Toulouse facility may be closed by spring.  If the facility closes, the resulting job losses will be a part of the 4k global Motorola Mobility layoffs announced by Google last summer.

A company representative has stated that while the discussions around a potential closure are underway, no final decision has been made. However, there’s  a good chance that if Google’s management is even evoking the possibility of winding down its Toulouse operations, particularly given its ongoing public dispute with the governement, that a de facto decision has already been made.

The closure of this site would be yet another blow to the ‘Motorola’ presence in Toulouse which dates back to the 60s.  Motorola’s slow decline has made recent years particularly difficult for employees of current or past Motorola businesses based in there.  The biggest blow came after Motorola sold its semiconductor (for automobiles) division to US-based Freescale, who ended up closing its Toulouse factory last summer.  Although Freescale decided to maintain its 500 person strong R&D activity at the site, the closure did ultimately result in the loss of 397 jobs.  Freescale’s decision earlier this year provoked surprisingly little blowback from the press or the unions.

For Google it may very well be a different story.

While the Toulouse site may be not be strategic for Google, it’s hard to believe that given all of the recent rancour between the government and the internet giant that Google will opt for a complete, straightforward layoff of all 170 employees.  Although the closure will ultimately affect a relatively small number of employees, you can bet that the government will utilize this news to reinforce their ‘big bad Google’ meme and attempt to leverage this in their negotiations.

So, assuming all this moves forward, look for Google to propose very attractive redundancy packages and/or eventual reclassifications within the company in an effort to avoid adding fuel to the political fire.