- Brian Ach/Stringer
- Andy Rubin is best known as the “father” of Android, the mobile operating system that would make Google the biggest smartphone player in the world.
- Rubin left Google in 2014 and founded Essential in 2015 to create smartphones to rival Google’s Pixel and Apple’s iPhone.
- Rubin is on a leave of absence from his new startup after the media unearthed a Google report of his allegedly “inappropriate” relationship with another employee in the Android division.
- An Essential spokeswoman said Rubin had already requested leave to deal with “personal matters” earlier this month.
Android creator and former Googler Andy Rubin is on leave from his new smartphone startup Essential after the media unearthed reports that he had had an “inappropriate” relationship with another Google employee.
We first saw the news via The Verge.
Rubin reportedly announced his leave of absence on Monday, after The Information uncovered an internal Google probe from 2014 into his relationship with a woman who worked with him at its Android division.
The woman who reportedly filed a complaint about him to HR, and Google subsequently determined that the relationship was “inappropriate” – not least because of its policy to move employees who are romantically involved into different divisions. The firm said Rubin’s behaviour was “improper and showed bad judgement.” Rubin reportedly left Google shortly after the probe.
Rubin announced his leave of absence from Essential on Monday, after The Information flagged the 2014 report to his spokesman.
That spokesman, Michael Sitrick, said any relationship had been “consensual” and that Google had never told Rubin of any “misconduct.”
“Any relationship that Mr. Rubin had while at Google was consensual,” Sitrick told The Information. “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.”
Sitrick has not responded to a further request for clarification from Business Insider. It isn’t clear whether Rubin denies the report entirely, and Google’s reported findings.
An Essential spokeswoman suggested Rubin had already been planning to take a leave of absence. She said: “At our last regularly scheduled board meeting earlier in November, Andy asked for a leave of absence to deal with personal matters. The Board agreed and our President, Niccolo de Masi, will continue to run day to day operations at Essential.”
The future of Essential looks uncertain without its founder and driving force, however temporary his absence. The firm was founded to take on Apple, Google, and Samsung with high-end smartphones.
Its first device, the Essential PH-1, has been well-reviewed since it was unveiled in August, and the startup was quickly valued at more than $1 billion (£746 million). But commercially, the phone looks like a flop with the firm set back by delays, senior staff quitting, and heavy discounts on the Essential phone only months after launch.