Google's search boss reportedly warns staff that life won't be 'hunky-dory forever' amid rise of AI rivals

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  • Google's search chief Prabhakar Raghavan warned staff about a changing landscape, CNBC reported.

  • He said life won't always be "hunky-dory" as rivals seek to challenge its search dominance.

  • Microsoft has been enhancing its search experience with AI-infused features as competition heats up.

It's time to brace for a new chapter, Google search chief Prabhakar Raghavan has reportedly warned staff.

He told Googlers in an all-hands meeting last month that "things have changed" and they're "not like they were 15, 20 years ago," CNBC reported, citing a recording of the meeting it obtained.

"It's not like life is going to be hunky-dory, forever," Raghavan also said, per the outlet.

Search remains a crucial part of Alphabet's business, with "search and other" accounting for revenues of $48 billion in the final three months of last year — more than $5 billion higher than the same period in 2022.

Raghavan's warning to employees comes as rivals such as startup Perplexity AI seek to take on Google's dominance by developing their own search engines.

CEO Aravind Srinivas announced Tuesday that it's raised about $63 million in a new funding round that values the company at more than $1 billion. Perplexity's backers include Jeff Bezos and Nvidia.

Raghavan also addressed new competitors in the meeting, CNBC reported. "They may have a new gizmo out there that people like to play with but they still come to Google to verify what they see there because it is the trusted source and it becomes more critical in this era of generative AI."

Google Search has changed little for more than 20 years, but the AI boom has forced its hand. Google said last year it was "supercharging" and "improving" users' search experience with a generative AI-powered version called Search Generative Experience (SGE).

SGE is still in its infancy, but Google started testing "AI overviews" about a month ago by giving some US and UK users an AI-generated summary of search results.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has been stepping up its search ambitions. It started rolling out new AI features on Bing last year, including allowing users to search visually.

Microsoft said it was "reinventing" search when it introduced the new AI-infused Bing last February. CEO Satya Nadella said at the time" "AI will fundamentally change every software category, starting with the largest category of all — search."

Google didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider, made outside normal working hours.

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