The New York Times today published a long report into a pattern of high-profile Google executives accused of sexual misconduct quietly let go from the company, but retaining massive payouts. Named former Googlers include Andy Rubin of Android and Amit Singhal of Search.
Late last year, The Information reported that Andy Rubin had an “inappropriate relationship” while at Google that resulted in him temporarily stepping aside from Essential. According to the NYT, Rubin dated other women at the company — and sometimes under his employ at Android — while he was married to somebody that he also met at Google. One relationship that began in 2012 ultimately led to his departure in 2014.
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.
The piece also describes Rubin’s tendency to berate “subordinates as stupid or incompetent,” while other details about his behavior are lewd:
Mr. Rubin often berated subordinates as stupid or incompetent, they said. Google did little to curb that behavior. It took action only when security staff found bondage sex videos on Mr. Rubin’s work computer, said three former and current Google executives briefed on the incident. That year, the company docked his bonus, they said.
While Rubin was penalized for his actions in that incident, the NYT goes on to describe a history of bonuses, down to his firing. As Google investigated the 2013 incident a year later, the board awarded Rubin a $150 million stock grant.
The “unusually generous sum, even by Google’s standards” comes in the context of Page reportedly feeling that Rubin “was never properly compensated for his contribution to Android.” This gave the OS founder great leeway, as well as a six-month stint in 2013 of running Google’s nascent robotics division.
At the end of the day, Rubin received $90 million over four years, with the payments still ongoing and including a non-compete clause that also prevents him from criticizing Google publicly. Today’s report lays out the calculation taken by Google to minimize the fallout from executive departures.
But for senior executives, Google weighs other factors, said former executives. A wrongful termination lawsuit could mean unwanted press attention for Google and the victims of a misconduct case, with a loss resulting in significant damages.
Meanwhile, beyond Rubin, the New York Times describes a history of executives that Google investigated and found credible claims against receiving generous severance packages, or not facing termination. Meanwhile, their exits are often portrayed as mutual, with the exact nature obscured.
Google found her claim credible, they said. The company did not fire Mr. Singhal, but accepted his resignation and negotiated an exit package that paid him millions and prevented him from working for a competitor, said the people.
Update: Shortly after the report was published, Sundar Pichai and Google’s head of HR Eileen Naughton sent out the following email to all employees.
Today’s story in The New York Times was difficult to read.
We are dead serious about making sure we provide a safe and inclusive workplace. We want to assure you that we review every single complaint about sexual harassment or inappropriate conduct, we investigate, and we take action.
In recent years, we’ve made a number of changes, including taking an increasingly hard line on inappropriate conduct by people in positions of authority: in the last two years, 48 people have been terminated for sexual harassment, including 13 who were senior managers and above. None of these individuals received an exit package.
In 2015, we launched Respect@ and our annual Internal Investigations Report to provide transparency about these types of investigations at Google. Because we know that reporting harassment can be traumatic, we provide confidential channels to share any inappropriate behavior you experience or see. We support and respect those who have spoken out. You can find many ways to do this at go/saysomething. You can make a report anonymously if you wish.
We’ve also updated our policy to require all VPs and SVPs to disclose any relationship with a co-worker regardless of reporting line or presence of conflict.
We are committed to ensuring that Google is a workplace where you can feel safe to do your best work and where there are serious consequences for anyone who behaves inappropriately.
Sundar and Eileen
Andy Rubin also responded in two tweets.
2/2 to disparage me during a divorce and custody battle. Also, I am deeply troubled that anonymous Google executives are commenting about my personnel file and misrepresenting the facts.
— Andy Rubin (@Arubin) October 26, 2018