NYT: Google paid Andy Rubin $90 million to leave after misconduct review

The New York Times is reporting from named and anonymous sources at Google that Android co-creator Andy Rubin will have fully received a $90 million severance package when the last payment to him is made next month. The company cut ties after it concluded a review into misconduct originally reported by The Information.

However, we’re now learning about Rubin’s workplace behavior in detail as well as the comfortable lifestyle he was able to lead while at Google. Four of his co-workers said that he often slammed employees for being stupid or incompetent and that he kept videos of bondage pornography on his work computer. After security found the videos, the company reacted by cutting his bonus pay.

Sam Singer, a spokesperson for Rubin, has said that all the relationships were consensual and weren’t with those who reported directly to him. Singer also disputes the claim that Rubin called people incompetent.

From when Android was acquired in 2005 to when he left Google in 2013, Rubin maintained at least two casual, consensual relationships outside of his marriage with female employees. He violated human resources policy by not disclosing a relationship in 2011 to the company — it is not known if he was disciplined for it. His ex-wife claims in a civil suit that Rubin had maintained multple “ownership relationships.”

From the Times:

The suit included a screenshot of an August 2015 email Mr. Rubin sent to one woman. “You will be happy being taken care of,” he wrote. “Being owned is kinda like you are my property, and I can loan you to other people.”

After being promoted to an SVP position in 2011, Rubin began receiving $20 million in total annual compensation. He also got a sweetheart loan from the company for $14 million with less than 1 percent interest to put towards a Japanese beach estate.

In 2013, Rubin began the relationship with an Android employee who would later take her misconduct complaint to Google. The relationship ended after the man pressured the woman to perform oral sex. Weeks into Google’s investigation, the board of directors awarded the executive $150 million in stock. It is unknown if Google co-founder Larry Page, who typically determines the size of executive bonuses, knew of the inquiry at the time.

When the investigation found that the relationship was inappropriate, Page ordered Rubin’s ouster. The company, which is motivated to avoid wrongful termination lawsuits and scrutiny into its handling of any misconduct, usually gives high-level employees a much larger parachute than departing rank and file. Rubin’s parachute was $90 million to be paid out over four years: $2.5 million monthly for the first two years, then $1.25 million payments for the remainder of the term.

Google has since financially supported Rubin’s outside ventures like his startup incubator Playground Global and consuemr hardware company Essential.

Rubin is not the only leader at Google who is alleged to have engaged in inappropriate affairs.

Former general counsel David C. Drummond began extramarital relationship with Jennifer Blakely, an indirect suboordinate working as a senior contract manager in the legal department, in 2004. When Drummond disclosed the relationship to human resources in 2007, the company forced Blakely to transfer departments. Drummond ascended ranks to later become chief legal officer of parent company Alphabet and Google venture capital fund CapitalG. Blakely left Google, signing documents saying she did so voluntarily, after a short tenure in sales.

In 2013, Richard DeVaul, one of the directors for Google’s moonshot division X, invited job interviewee Star Simpson to arts festival Burning Man. There, DeVaul offered the engineer a back rub, asking her to remove her shirt. She felt coerced to at least receive a neck rub. She was passed over for the job without explanation. After hesitating for two years, Simpson reported the matter to human resources after seeing DeVaul rise to prominence in profiles from The New York Times and The Atlantic. DeVaul was disciplined — Google has not said what action it took — and has since apologized for an “error of judgment.”

Former senior vice president of search Amit Singhal was accused in 2015 of drunkenly groping another employee at an off-site function. Sources say Singhal resigned after an investigation, but took a pay package worth millions in exchange for a non-compete promise. Singhal would later take a job at Uber. Recode unveiled the internal investigation and Uber pushed Singhal out after only a few weeks.

The company’s vice preisdent for people operations, Eileen Naughton, said in a statement that it has “taken a particularly hard line on inappropriate conduct by people in positions of authority” and is working to improve its procedures.

But Google engineer and worker advocate Liz Fong-Jones remains incredulous.

“When Google covers up harassment and passes the trash, it contributes to an environment where people don’t feel safe reporting misconduct,” Fong-Jones said. “They suspect that nothing will happen or, worse, that the men will be paid and the women will be pushed aside.”

Meanwhile, Rubin has remained at Playground and Essential with reduced visibility. He is rumored to have considered selling Essential.

Update: Rubin has posted a statement to his Twitter account refuting the claims made in the Times’s reporting.

The anecdote in question was printed as such:

Around that time, Mr. Rubin was casually seeing another woman he knew from Android, according to two company executives briefed on the relationship. The two had started dating in 2012 when he was still leading the division, these people said.

By 2013, she had cooled on him and wanted to break things off but worried it would affect her career, said the people. That March, she agreed to meet him at a hotel, where she said he pressured her into oral sex, they said. The incident ended the relationship.

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About The Author
Jules Wang
Jules Wang is News Editor for Pocketnow and one of the hosts of the Pocketnow Weekly Podcast. He came onto the team in 2014 as an intern editing and producing videos and the podcast while he was studying journalism at Emerson College. He graduated the year after and entered into his current position at Pocketnow, full-time.