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Android co-creator takes leave of absence from his smartphone startup
November 30, 2017 / 1:07 AM / 13 days ago

Android co-creator takes leave of absence from his smartphone startup

(Reuters) - Andy Rubin, a former executive at Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google known for co-founding the Android mobile operating system, is on a leave of absence from his smartphone startup Essential, the company said on Wednesday.

The news coincided with a report by online technology news outlet The Information that he left Google after an internal investigation into his behaviour.

Essential spokeswoman Shari Doherty would not specify the length of Rubin’s leave nor how a determination would be made about a return to his chief executive officer post. The Information said that Essential employees were told about his leave of absence on Monday.

“At our last regularly scheduled board meeting earlier in November, [Rubin] asked for a leave of absence to deal with personal matters,” Doherty said in a emailed statement. “The board agreed and our president, Niccolo de Masi, will continue to run day to day operations at Essential.”

Rubin left Google in 2014 following an inquiry found he had an inappropriate relationship with a female subordinate, The Information reported late Tuesday. A human resources complaint by the woman prompted Google’s action, the report said.

Reuters was unable to independently confirm The Information’s reporting. Rubin previously said he departed because he wanted to invest more in robotics projects.

Google declined to comment.

Michael Sitrick, a spokesman for Rubin, said, “Any relationship that Rubin had while at Google was consensual and did not involve any person who reported to him. 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 declined to comment on “personal matters” cited by Essential.

Rubin’s decision comes amid heightened scrutiny of impropriety and sexual misconduct in technology, entertainment, politics and other industries. This year, several venture capitalists and entrepreneurs have taken leaves or stepped down as a result of accusations about inappropriate behaviour.

Rubin joined Google in 2005 when the search giant acquired Android. He oversaw development of what is now the world’s most used mobile operating system until an executive restructuring in 2013.

Google put Rubin in charge of a nascent robotics effort, but he left the next year to launch an incubator for hardware businesses. The venture led to Essential which has raised $330 million in funding from Access Technology Ventures, Tencent Holdings Ltd (0700.HK) and Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O).

Reporting by Paresh Dave and Stephen Nellis; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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