As the most popular (mobile) operating system in the world today, Android powers everything from smartphones to tablets. It may be helmed by Google now, but Android owes its existence to Andy Rubin, who founded the project all the way back in 2003. When Google acquired Android in 2005, Rubin moved to the company as well, where he led the operating system’s development for nine years, finally departing in 2014. Today, the world knows Andy Rubin as the ‘father of Android’, and also the co-founder of Essential Products.
It’s quite a fascinating story, isn’t it? It sure is, but it seems that the creator of the world’s most-popular mobile OS isn’t exactly the ‘nice guy’ everyone thinks he is.
Published today, a scathing report by The New York Times said that when Andy Rubin left Google in 2014, he didn’t actually leave of his own accord. Instead, Rubin was asked to leave by then-CEO (and Google co-founder) Larry Page, after an investigation found that the allegations of sexual misconduct, leveled against the Android creator by another Google employee, were credible beyond doubt.
However, as noted by The New York Times report, what’s strange is that despite knowing that Rubin was guilty, Google paid him a severance package amounting to a staggering $90 million, to be paid over the next four years. The report further mentions that Rubin was one of the three top-level Google executives who were paid sizeable severance packages despite being accused of similar behavior.
It’s worth noting that apart from sexual misconduct claims, The New York Times’ report also mentions Rubin as someone ‘who often berated subordinates as stupid or incompetent.’ It further says that Google never took Rubin to task for this, and only initiated action when security staff found bondage sex videos on Rubin’s work computer.
Interestingly, when Google announced Rubin’s departure from the company in 2014, the technology major made it seem that everything was amicable. In fact, in a public statement issued regarding Rubin’s departure, then-CEO Larry Page had said, “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.”
As appalling as Google’s decision to hand Rubin millions (even after sexual misconduct claims against him were found to be true) is, perhaps what’s even worse is that the company chose to sweep the whole matter under the rug, most likely fearing that the repercussions would negatively affect its public image, and of course, revenues.
In two tweets, Rubin claimed that the story by The New York Times was both inaccurate and exaggerated, and was part of a smear campaign.
1/2 The New York Times story contains numerous inaccuracies about my employment at Google and wild exaggerations about my compensation. Specifically, I never coerced a woman to have sex in a hotel room. These false allegations are part of a smear campaign
— Andy Rubin (@Arubin) October 26, 2018
Shortly after the report broke, Google CEO Sundar Pichai sent an internal memo to all Google employees, clarifying that the company takes sexual misconduct allegations very seriously. The memo further notes that in the last two years, 48 employees were terminated for sexual harassment, including 13 senior managers and above.
Pichai’s memo may seem reassuring to Google employees, but the report by The New York Times is bound to have a negative impact on the public perception of the company. Considering the fact that Android is one of its most valued products, it remains to be seen how Google will handle this controversy, which is centered around perhaps one of its most important former executives.