Update: Andy Rubin sent out a pair of tweets in response to the New York Times report about alleged misconduct during his time at Google.
2/2 to disparage me during a divorce and custody battle. Also, I am deeply troubled that anonymous Google executives are commenting about my personnel file and misrepresenting the facts.
— Andy Rubin (@Arubin) October 26, 2018
Google CEO Sundar Pichai also issued a statement because, aside from Rubin, additional current and former executives were named in the report.
Google CEO @sundarpichai has just sent out this statement regarding the NYT sexual misconduct story. Notably, it does not refute any of the allegations outlined in the story.https://t.co/z9uKeC98s8 pic.twitter.com/UoOsUUhyuR
— Cyrus Farivar (@cfarivar) October 25, 2018
Google will need to explain this one with serious transparency. Android co-founder Andy Rubin was paid a large amount of money to leave the Mountain View-based company after allegations of misconduct toward other employees, according to the New York Times.
The deal between them sent Rubin out the door with $90 million. While the entire severance package wasn’t paid up front, Rubin will have received every penny in $2 million installments that conclude in November. Now there are questions over why Google offered such a generous package despite repeated offenses.
According to sources speaking with the New York Times, it didn’t take long for Rubin’s abrasive, disconnected style to get realized. Early on, his employees at Google were subject to insults over their intelligence. Rubin, though, was reprimanded by the company only after security staff discovered bondage sex videos on his laptop.
Later in his career, Rubin was allegedly in extramarital relationships with several employees at Google. Multiple executives at Google, who are remaining anonymous, said a female was pressured into performing oral sex on Rubin in a hotel room in 2013. After an investigation, Rubin was called out but not fired.
He left Google in 2014, but Rubin’s departure was celebrated for his contributions. Android, the world’s most popular operating system, was started by him and a small team at Danger. No one mentioned why Rubin exited the company abruptly aside from claiming he wanted to pursue new opportunities.
Sam Singer, Rubin’s spokesperson, denies any potential misconduct. His client’s decisions are described as “consensual.” Also, Singer claims nothing happened between Rubin and any employee who reported directly to him. Google has a policy against inter-team relationships.
His ex-wife, Rie Rubin, finalized their divorce over the summer. In a separate civil suit, she alleges her husband was paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to maintain “ownership relationships” while married.
Here’s part of what one email from Rubin to a woman said:
“You will be happy being taken care of. Being owned is kinda like you are my property, and I can loan you to other people.”
The allegations resurfaced late last year. Rubin took a leave of absence after The Information discussed his inappropriate relationship, but he returned to Essential in less than two weeks. Essential limited its verbiage to say Rubin needed to deal with a personal matter.
The report also mentions a handful of high-ranking executives at Google who exhibited similar acts like Rubin’s. Many were awarded millions of dollars in severance pay, too.
David C. Drummond, Google’s general counsel in 2002, entered an extramarital relationship with another member of the legal department. He and Jennifer Blakely started dating in 2004, and they had a son in 2007. Blakely was transferred to the sales department until leaving in 2011, and Drummond’s currently the chief legal officer at Alphabet.
Meanwhile, Richard DeVaul from Google X allegedly told a woman during an interview that he was polyamorous and made sexual advances at the Burning Man festival in 2013. He apologized in response to the story emerging.
Google also struggled with Amit Singhal, who worked on its search unit. He earned millions of dollars despite claims of groping a female employee while drunk. The company issued another severance package although it could’ve fired him and moved on. Singhal’s explanation for walking away from Google was to focus on family and philanthropy.
As for DeVaul’s status, he remains at Google’s research and development facility. Singhal joined Uber and leads engineering. Most of the offenders are pushed out with a big paycheck, and then they resume work elsewhere.
Since Rubin was locked in power struggle with Sundar Pichai, his exit was more apparent. Google wasn’t inclined to put up with further misconduct. In 2015, Google selected Pichai as CEO. Rubin was gone just before that decision.
Essential, which Rubin created with funds from various technology giants, didn’t comment on the report. Rubin’s stayed quiet, too. The fledgling startup explored a sale earlier this year and could soon run out of cash to stay afloat. Because of this story, who knows if Rubin will remain in power or step down.
It’s saying little at the moment, but Google must explain how misconduct has been handled in the last decades. Perhaps this is the tip of the iceberg. Everyone knows there’s gross behavior in Silicon Valley, and it’s time for the companies and executives to acknowledge that.