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How Google Protected Andy Rubin, the ‘Father of Android’

SAN FRANCISCO — Google gave Andy Rubin, the creator of Android cellular software program, a hero’s farewell when he left the corporate in October 2014.

“I wish to want Andy all the perfect with what’s subsequent,” Larry Web page, Google’s chief government then, stated in a public assertion. “With Android he created one thing really outstanding — with a billion-plus pleased customers.”

What Google didn’t make public was that an worker had accused Mr. Rubin of sexual misconduct. The lady, with whom Mr. Rubin had been having an extramarital relationship, stated he coerced her into performing oral intercourse in a lodge room in 2013, in keeping with two firm executives with information of the episode. Google investigated and concluded her declare was credible, stated the folks, who spoke on the situation that they not be named, citing confidentiality agreements. Mr. Rubin was notified, they stated, and Mr. Web page requested for his resignation.

Google may have fired Mr. Rubin and paid him little to nothing on the way in which out. As an alternative, the corporate handed him a $90 million exit bundle, paid in installments of about $2 million a month for 4 years, stated two folks with information of the phrases. The final cost is scheduled for subsequent month.

Mr. Rubin was considered one of three executives that Google protected over the previous decade after they had been accused of sexual misconduct. In two cases, it ousted senior executives, however softened the blow by paying them tens of millions of as they departed, despite the fact that it had no authorized obligation to take action. In a 3rd, the manager remained in a extremely compensated put up on the firm. Every time Google stayed silent in regards to the accusations towards the boys.

The New York Instances obtained company and courtroom paperwork and spoke to greater than three dozen present and former Google executives and workers in regards to the episodes, together with some folks immediately concerned in dealing with them. Most requested to stay nameless as a result of they had been sure by confidentiality agreements or feared retribution for talking out.

The transgressions diverse in severity. Mr. Rubin’s case stood out for a way a lot Google paid him and its silence on the circumstances of his departure. After Mr. Rubin left, the corporate invested tens of millions of in his subsequent enterprise.

Sam Singer, a spokesman for Mr. Rubin, disputed that the technologist had been instructed of any misconduct at Google and stated he left the corporate of his personal accord.

“The New York Instances story comprises quite a few inaccuracies about my employment at Google and wild exaggerations about my compensation,” Mr. Rubin stated in a press release after the publication of this text. “Particularly, I by no means coerced a lady to have intercourse in a lodge room. These false allegations are a part of a smear marketing campaign by my ex-wife to disparage me throughout a divorce and custody battle.”

[Anger is rising amongst Google workers after stories of payouts to executives accused of harassment.]

Mr. Rubin’s exit from Google after an inappropriate relationship was beforehand reported, however the nature of the accusation and the monetary phrases haven’t been disclosed.

In deciding on phrases favorable to 2 of the boys, Google protected its personal pursuits. The corporate averted messy and dear authorized fights, and stored them from working for rivals as a part of the separation agreements.

When requested about Mr. Rubin and the opposite instances, Eileen Naughton, Google’s vice chairman for folks operations, stated in a press release that the corporate takes harassment significantly and evaluations each grievance.

“We examine and take motion, together with termination,” she stated. “Lately, we’ve taken a very arduous line on inappropriate conduct by folks in positions of authority. We’re working arduous to maintain enhancing how we deal with this sort of conduct.”

After publication of this text, Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief government, and Ms. Naughton wrote in an e mail to workers that the corporate had fired 48 folks for sexual harassment over the past two years and that none of them obtained an exit bundle.

“We’re dedicated to making sure that Google is a office the place you’ll be able to really feel secure to do your greatest work, and the place there are critical penalties for anybody who behaves inappropriately,” Mr. Pichai and Ms. Naughton wrote.

Some inside Google stated that was not sufficient.

“When Google covers up harassment and passes the trash, it contributes to an setting the place folks don’t really feel secure reporting misconduct,” stated Liz Fong-Jones, a Google engineer for greater than a decade and an activist on office points. “They think that nothing will occur or, worse, that the boys will likely be paid and the ladies will likely be pushed apart.”

[Google staff across the globe stroll out over the corporate’s dealing with of harassment claims.]

Google, based in 1998 by Mr. Web page and Sergey Brin after they had been Stanford College graduate college students, fostered a permissive office tradition from the beginning.

In Silicon Valley, it’s extensively identified that Mr. Web page had dated Marissa Mayer, one of many firm’s first engineers who later turned chief government of Yahoo. (Each had been single.) Eric Schmidt, Google’s former chief government, as soon as retained a mistress to work as an organization guide, in keeping with 4 folks with information of the connection. And Mr. Brin, who together with Mr. Web page owns the vast majority of voting shares in Google’s dad or mum, Alphabet, had a consensual extramarital affair with an worker in 2014, stated three workers with information of the connection.

David C. Drummond, who joined as basic counsel in 2002, had an extramarital relationship with Jennifer Blakely, a senior contract supervisor within the authorized division who reported to considered one of his deputies, she and different Google workers stated. They started relationship in 2004, mentioned having kids and had a son in 2007, after which Mr. Drummond disclosed their relationship to the corporate, she stated.

Google then took motion. Ms. Blakely stated Stacy Sullivan, then the top of human assets and now chief tradition officer, instructed her that Google discouraged managers from having relationships with subordinates.

“One among us must go away the authorized division,” Ms. Blakely stated. “It was clear it could not be David.”

For the reason that affair, Mr. Drummond’s profession has flourished. He’s now Alphabet’s chief authorized officer and chairman of CapitalG, Google’s enterprise capital fund. He has reaped about $190 million from inventory choices and awards since 2011 and will make greater than $200 million on different choices and fairness awards, in keeping with firm filings.

Ms. Blakely was transferred to gross sales in 2007 and left Google a 12 months later. The corporate requested her to signal paperwork saying she had departed voluntarily. She stated she “signed waivers, releases and no matter else they wished.”

In late 2008, she stated, Mr. Drummond left her. They later fought a custody battle for his or her son, she stated, which she received.

How Mr. Drummond, 55, was handled “amplifies the message that for a choose few, there are not any penalties,” stated Ms. Blakely, 54. “Google felt like I used to be the legal responsibility.”

Google’s sexual harassment coverage states that violators could also be terminated — but it surely was versatile in the way it enforced the principles.

In 2013, Richard DeVaul, a director at Google X, the corporate’s analysis and improvement arm, interviewed Star Simpson, a engineer. Throughout the job interview, she stated he instructed her that he and his spouse had been “polyamorous,” a phrase usually used to explain an open marriage. She stated he invited her to Burning Man, an annual pageant within the Nevada desert, the next week.

Ms. Simpson went together with her mom and stated she thought it was a chance to speak to Mr. DeVaul in regards to the job. She stated she introduced conservative garments appropriate for knowledgeable assembly.

At Mr. DeVaul’s encampment, Ms. Simpson stated, he requested her to take away her shirt and provided a again rub. She stated she refused. When he insisted, she stated she relented to a neck rub.

“I didn’t have sufficient backbone or spine to close that down as a 24-year-old,” stated Ms. Simpson, now 30.

A couple of weeks later, Google instructed her she didn’t get the job, with out explaining why.

She waited two years to report the episode to Google after she stated she wrestled with speaking about it. A human assets official later instructed her that her account was “extra possible than not” true and that “acceptable motion” was taken. She stated the official requested her to remain quiet about what had occurred, which she did — till Mr. DeVaul’s public profile started rising in articles in The New York Instances and The Atlantic.

“We’d by no means inform a complainant to remain quiet,” Chelsea Bailey, the top of human assets at X, stated in a press release, including that officers investigated and “took acceptable corrective motion.” She declined to say what that was, citing worker confidentiality.

In a press release, Mr. DeVaul apologized for an “error of judgment.” He stated X determined to not rent Ms. Simpson earlier than she went to Burning Man and that he didn’t notice she had not been knowledgeable.

In one other harassment case, Google paid Amit Singhal, a senior vice chairman who headed search, tens of millions of on the way in which out.

In 2015, an worker stated Mr. Singhal groped her at a boozy off-site occasion attended by dozens of colleagues, stated three individuals who had been briefed on the incident. Google investigated and located that Mr. Singhal was inebriated and there have been no witnesses, they stated.

Google discovered her declare credible, they stated. The corporate didn’t hearth Mr. Singhal, however accepted his resignation and negotiated an exit bundle that paid him tens of millions and prevented him from working for a competitor, stated the folks.

In a weblog put up in February 2016, Mr. Singhal stated he wished to focus extra on philanthropy and his household.

With Google silent in regards to the circumstances of Mr. Singhal’s departure, he discovered one other profitable job. Lower than a 12 months later, he turned head of engineering on the ride-hailing firm Uber. Weeks later, the expertise information web site Recode reported that Mr. Singhal had left Google after a misconduct accusation. Uber dismissed Mr. Singhal for not disclosing the inquiry.

Uber and Mr. Singhal declined to remark. In a press release final 12 months, he stated that “harassment is unacceptable in any setting” and that he had not engaged in any such conduct.

Mr. Rubin joined Google in 2005 when it acquired his start-up, Android, for $50 million. Over the following few years, he helped construct Android — the software program now utilized in 80 % of the world’s smartphones — into an enormous success.

Search had positioned Google as a dominant participant on desktop computer systems, however Android prolonged its attain and put Google’s maps, e mail and internet browser on units that individuals carry day by day. The advertisements and cellular apps operating on Android additionally generated tens of billions of in revenue.

That success gave Mr. Rubin extra latitude than most Google executives, stated 4 individuals who labored with him.

Mr. Rubin usually berated subordinates as silly or incompetent, they stated. Google did little to curb that conduct. It took motion solely when safety workers discovered bondage intercourse movies on Mr. Rubin’s work pc, stated three former and present Google executives briefed on the incident. That 12 months, the corporate docked his bonus, they stated.

Mr. Singer, the spokesman for Mr. Rubin, stated the manager “is understood to be clear and forthcoming together with his suggestions.” He stated Mr. Rubin by no means known as anybody incompetent.

Mr. Rubin, 55, who met his spouse at Google, additionally dated different girls on the firm whereas married, stated 4 individuals who labored with him. In 2011, he had a consensual relationship with a lady on the Android staff who didn’t report back to him, they stated. They stated Google’s human assets division was not knowledgeable, regardless of guidelines requiring disclosure when managers date somebody who immediately or not directly stories to them.

In a civil go well with filed this month by Mr. Rubin’s ex-wife, Rie Rubin, she claimed he had a number of “possession relationships” with different girls throughout their marriage, paying tons of of 1000’s of to them. The couple had been divorced in August.

The go well with included a screenshot of an August 2015 e mail Mr. Rubin despatched to 1 lady. “You’ll be pleased being taken care of,” he wrote. “Being owned is kinda like you might be my property, and I can mortgage you to different folks.”

In 2011, Mr. Rubin was appointed a Google senior vice chairman and began receiving about $20 million a 12 months in wage, bonus and stock-based compensation, stated two former Google executives with information of the phrases. In 2012, Google additionally lent Mr. Rubin $14 million to purchase a seashore property in Japan. The mortgage was provided at beneath 1 % curiosity, stated folks briefed on the transaction.

When Google mixed administration of Android with its Chrome division in 2013, Mr. Rubin misplaced an influence battle to Mr. Pichai, Google’s present chief government.

He remained extremely valued. That 12 months, Google provided Mr. Rubin a one-time bonus of $40 million in inventory and an extra $72 million of inventory over the following two years, stated two folks with information of the phrases.

Mr. Rubin constructed a robotics division inside Google named Replicant. Throughout a six-month span in 2013, he spent an estimated $90 million to purchase eight robotics corporations.

Round that point, Mr. Rubin was casually seeing one other lady he knew from Android, in keeping with two firm executives briefed on the connection. The 2 had began relationship in 2012 when he was nonetheless main the division, these folks stated.

By 2013, she had cooled on him and wished to interrupt issues off however anxious it could have an effect on her profession, stated the folks. That March, she agreed to fulfill him at a lodge, the place she stated he pressured her into oral intercourse, they stated. The incident ended the connection.

The lady waited till 2014 earlier than submitting a grievance to Google’s human assets division and telling officers in regards to the relationship, the folks stated. Google started an investigation.

In September 2014, a couple of weeks into the inquiry, Google’s board awarded Mr. Rubin a inventory grant value $150 million, to be paid out over a number of years, stated three folks briefed on the choice. It was an unusually beneficiant sum, even by Google’s requirements.

Mr. Web page usually recommends how a lot senior executives are paid, stated three former Google executives. Over time, Mr. Web page had instructed folks he felt Mr. Rubin was by no means correctly compensated for his contribution to Android, two individuals who spoke to him stated.

The $150 million inventory grant to Mr. Rubin was authorised by the Google board’s management improvement and compensation committee — composed of Paul Otellini, Intel’s former chief government who died in 2017, and two of Google’s earliest traders, John Doerr of the enterprise capital agency Kleiner Perkins and Ram Shriram of the enterprise agency Sherpalo Ventures.

It’s unclear if Mr. Web page or the board knew of the investigation into the harassment grievance when Google authorised the $150 million grant for Mr. Rubin. Mr. Web page, 45, didn’t reply to a request for a remark; Mr. Doerr and Mr. Shriram declined to remark.

Google’s inquiry in the end discovered the grievance towards Mr. Rubin credible, stated the 2 firm executives conversant in the incident. Mr. Rubin denied the accusation, but it surely turned clear that — on the very least — the connection was inappropriate, they stated. Mr. Web page determined Mr. Rubin ought to go away, they stated.

The $150 million inventory grant gave Mr. Rubin an unlimited bargaining chip when he began negotiating his exit bundle a couple of month later. That’s as a result of an government’s inventory compensation — and the way a lot of it they would go away behind — is commonly considered throughout settlement talks.

When Google fires lower-level workers, it usually marches them out instantly and pays little, if any, severance. However for senior executives, Google weighs different elements, stated former executives. A wrongful termination lawsuit may imply undesirable media consideration for Google and the victims of a misconduct case, with a loss leading to vital damages.

Ultimately, Google paid Mr. Rubin $90 million, stated two folks with information of the phrases. The bundle was structured in order that he obtained $2.5 million a month for the primary two years and $1.25 million a month for the next two years.

A provision within the separation settlement precluded Mr. Rubin from working for rivals or disparaging Google publicly, they stated. Google additionally delayed reimbursement of the $14 million mortgage.

The corporate then went out of its strategy to make Mr. Rubin’s departure appear amicable, together with Mr. Web page’s public assertion of gratitude.

Afterward, Google invested in Playground International, a enterprise agency Mr. Rubin began six months after leaving the corporate. Playground has raised $800 million. He additionally based Important, a maker of Android smartphones.

Final November, after the expertise information web site The Info reported that Google had investigated Mr. Rubin for an inappropriate relationship, he took a go away of absence from Important. He has since returned to run it and is busy with talking engagements and investments.

Mr. Rubin’s wealth, fueled by Google, has elevated by 35 occasions in lower than a decade. In keeping with his ex-wife’s go well with, his web value is now about $350 million, up from $10 million in 2009.

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