Essential Creator Takes Leave Amid ‘Inappropriate’ Google Relationship Allegations

Andy Rubin — the mastermind behind Google’s ubiquitous Android operating system, and creator of the Essential Phone — has reportedly taken a “leave of absence” from his smartphone startup following allegations of an “inappropriate relationship” dating back to his years at Google, according to an investigative report published this week by The Information.

According to sources “familiar with the matter,” these allegations of impropriety stem from Rubin’s time working as the head of Android at Google, where he was reportedly in an undisclosed relationship with “a subordinate” on the Android team — a clear violation of Google’s corporate policy, which requires that employees disclose any relationship so they can be assigned to separate projects.

While the specific nature of the woman’s allegations remain unknown, Rubin was reportedly made aware of an investigation into his conduct back in 2014 — shortly before he left Google, citing, at the time, how he was frustrated over how long it would take the search giant to advance its robotics department.

Meanwhile, within the same, relative timeframe, Rubin was reportedly informed by a superior that his behavior not only violated company policy, but was “improper and showed bad judgement,” according to The Information.

Mike Sitrick, a spokesperson issuing comment on Rubin’s behalf, appeared to contest The Information’s report, however, saying that “Any relationship Mr. Rubin had while at Google was consensual,” and that “Mr. Rubin was never told by Google that he engaged in any misconduct while at Google and he did not, either while at Google or since.”

Interestingly, Rubin’s leave of absence is said to be for “personal reasons” that are unrelated to this week’s report.

From Android to Essential

Rubin became Google’s Senior Vice President of Mobile and Digital content after the search-giant acquired his Android operating system in 2005. After the company went through its ‘big restructuring’ in 2013, Rubin was then assigned to Google’s robotics division — which oversees the company’s acquisitions in the robotics space, including Boston Dynamics — while Sundar Pichai replaced him as head of mobile and digital content.

Meanwhile, after less than a year managing Google’s robotics division, Rubin left the company to pioneer a hardware incubator startup, according to TechCrunch. And his latest endeavor, the Essential Phone, launched earlier this year to generally positive reviews.

Touted as boasting a “pure Android” experience, the high-end handset originally retailed for $699 — however it’s price has since been cut to just $499.

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