Can powerful men in tech who commit sexual misconduct be called to account, or simply paid to leave?
A blistering, deeply reported, year-in-the-making New York Times story makes the case that Google and its parent company, Alphabet, have a track record of quietly handling credible sexual-misconduct allegations while paying out and even celebrating the men responsible.
When Andy Rubin, who created Android, the mobile operating system that assured Google’s centrality in a mobile-first world, left the company, he was given $90 million, paid out over four years. And yet, the Times reports, he was asked to resign after a Google investigation determined that a woman had made a credible claim that Rubin had coerced her into oral sex. (Rubin denied the allegation to the Times.)
Then there is the board member and former CEO Eric Schmidt, who “once retained a mistress to work as a company consultant, according to four people with knowledge of the relationship.” Or the co-founder Sergey Brin, who “had a consensual extramarital affair with an employee in 2014, said three employees with knowledge of the relationship.” And David Drummond, the chief legal officer, who had a relationship with a manager in the legal department; she moved out of the department, and Drummond moved up. And Richard DeVaul, a director at Google X, who tried to give a topless back rub to a job candidate at Burning Man. And Amit Singhal, a vice president who ran Search for the company: After a credible allegation that Singhal groped an employee at an office party, the company let him quietly resign with a multimillion-dollar golden parachute, which helped him land another lucrative job, at Uber, before the whole debacle was revealed.