Google Paid Android Inventor Andy Rubin $90 Million to Keep Quiet After He Was Credibly Accused of Sexual Misconduct, Report Says
Android’s creator, Andy Rubin, received $90 million from Google to resign without fuss after the company found an accusation of forced oral sex by a former girlfriend and Google employee was credible, the New York Times has reported.
Google did not deny the story’s substance to the Times, and its CEO and HR chief told employees in email after the article appeared that 13 senior managers have been fired in the last two years for sexual harassment. None of them, they said, had received an “exit package” paid for agreeing to leave.
A personal spokesperson for Rubin denied the substance of the story to the Times, and said Rubin left of his own accord and did not engage in misconduct, nor have a relationship with a direct report or one that was other than consensual while at Google. Rubin and Google did not reply to requests for comment from Fortune.
The alleged incident that led to Rubin’s departure from Google involved a former romantic partner who worked in the Android division. In 2014 she told Google’s human resources department that, after she was no longer interested in the relationship, she had met with Rubin in a hotel room in 2013, according to the Times. She accused Rubin of then forcing her into oral sex, and she ended the relationship, the report says.
Rubin joined Google in 2005 with the acquisition of Android, a company he had co-founded, to build smarter mobile devices. According to the Times, Rubin engaged in multiple relationships with other Google employees. In 2009, he married one, Rie Rubin.
Rie Rubin filed for divorce May 24, 2017. Court filings show the divorce is not yet final. On Sept. 17, a court ordered Andy Rubin to pay nearly $80,000 a month in child support. Many aspects of the proceedings and filings were sealed because of minor children. (Andy Rubin hasn’t spoken publicly of children, and his ex-wife has mentioned them only in passing in an article about a now-closed bakery, and on social media.)
On Oct. 3, 2018, she filed a civil lawsuit against Andy Rubin. The case was temporarily sealed at Andy Rubin’s request on Oct. 11 until a hearing on Dec. 3. Rubin’s attorneys argued, among other points, that “journalists and others will publicize the allegations if allowed to learn of them.”
The Times report maintains that Larry Page, Google’s co-founder, encouraged Rubin within the company and felt Rubin hadn’t received enough compensation for his role in Android. This led to a $150 million stock grant issued in Sept. 2014, even after the sexual-assault investigation was underway. The Times reports that it was unclear if Page or the board knew of the investigation when the grant was approved.
However, Rubin was earlier passed over, in 2013, to run a combined Android and Chrome team. Sundar Pichai got the nod instead. Pichai went on to become Google’s CEO when the firm shifted to a holding company structure with Google as a separate division and crown jewel.
After the sexual assault allegation was reportedly found credible by Google, the Times says Page made the decision to push Rubin out. Rubin left in Oct. 2014.
Rubin went on to co-found a venture-capital firm, Playground and later founded a smartphone maker, Essential, which laid off part of its staff a few days ago after disappointing sales of its first phone model.
Rubin was briefly on a leave of absence from Essential after the news site The Information reported on a 2014 complaint at Google that appears to be one of the elements of the Times story. At the time, Rubin said the relationship was consensual and not someone in his managerial area.
The story also documented with named and anonymous sources other incidents of sexual harassment, inappropriate remarks, and relationships that crossed lines of reporting.
Hours after the story appeared, the company’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, sent email to employees that noted 48 people had been terminated in Google in the last two years, “including 13 who were senior managers and above,” and that none received an exit package. The email was co-signed by Google’s HR chief, Eileen Naughton.