Google over the last decade protected — and rewarded — several high-level execs who had been accused of sexual misconduct, including Android inventor Andy Rubin, who received a $90 million exit package, according to a New York Times report.
The Times, in a nearly 2,800-word exposé published Thursday, said that in addition to Rubin two other top Google execs had not only escaped any real punishment but were compensated or promoted after the company was notified of misconduct claims against them: Amit Singhal, an ex-SVP who headed search, who received a large severance package in 2016; and David C. Drummond, who joined Google as general counsel in 2002 and is currently senior VP of corporate development for Alphabet, Google’s parent company.
In response to the report, Google’s head of HR, Eileen Naughton, said in a statement, “We investigate and take action, including termination. In recent years, we’ve taken a particularly hard line on inappropriate conduct by people in positions of authority. We’re working hard to keep improving how we handle this type of behavior.”
Rubin in 2013 coerced an employee to perform oral sex on him in a hotel room, according to the New York Times report. The company found her claim credible, whereupon Larry Page, Google’s CEO at the time, asked for Rubin’s resignation — and then the company granted Rubin a severance package worth $90 million, according to the Times. Google had acquired Rubin’s Android operating system startup for $50 million in 2005.
A spokesman for Rubin, in a statement to the Times, denied that the exec had engaged in any misconduct, saying that “any relationship that Mr. Rubin had while at Google was consensual and did not involve any person who reported directly to him.”
Drummond, when he was Google’s chief counsel, in 2004 began an extramarital relationship with Jennifer Blakely, an employee in the legal department. After Drummond and Blakely had a son in 2007, Drummond disclosed the relationship to Google HR — after which Google transferred Blakely to sales, before she left the company in 2008, according to the Times.
Google asked Blakely to sign waivers saying she had quit voluntarily. Drummond remained in his role as SVP of corporate development at Google until 2015 with the formation of the Alphabet holding company, when he was promoted to his current role. He also serves as chairman of Google’s investment arms, Google Ventures and CapitalG.
Singhal in 2015 was accused by a Google employee of groping her at an event, the Times reported, citing anonymous sources. Google “found her claim credible” but instead of firing Singhal he was allowed to resign and received a generous exit package, according to the report. Singhal had then in early 2017 joined Uber, which fired him after learning that he failed to inform the company about the Google sexual-harassment investigation. (Singhal declined to comment to the Times.)
The protections and rewards extended to Rubin and the other senior execs accused of misconduct stand in contrast to how Google ordinarily deals with employees found to violate HR policies — they’re fired and granted little or no severance, per the Times report.
When Rubin left, the company “went out of its way to make Mr. Rubin’s departure seem amicable,” according to the report, citing Page’s prepared statement at the time: “I want to wish Andy all the best with what’s next. With Android he created something truly remarkable — with a billion-plus happy users.”
Google then invested in Playground Global, a venture fund Rubin started six months after leaving the company. In 2015, he founded Essential, which developed and sells a high-end Android phone and an Android-based home hub. In November 2017, Rubin took a leave of absence from Essential after The Information reported that Rubin left Google after it found that he had an “inappropriate relationship” with a subordinate. He’s now back at Essential, and has a current net worth of about $350 million, the Times reported.