Andy Rubin used to be primarily known as the “father of Android,” but he’s also becoming known for leaving companies amid scandal — in this case Playground Global, the tech incubator he foundedafter leaving Google in 2014. Rubin confirmed toThe Vergetoday that he’s no longer with the incubator, following aBuzzFeedreport that he was “quietly shown the door.”
But that turn of phrase isn’t quite appropriate — because Rubin’s smartphone startup Essential happens to share the very same building as Playground Global in Palo Alto, California. The office has an open floor plan with few walls to speak of.
“Yes, the Essential office is still located in the Playground space,” an Essential spokesperson confirmed toThe Verge.
Rubin tellsThe Vergethat it was mutually decided, and Playground simply bought him out so he could “focus on the tasks at hand.” Here’s Rubin’s statement:
Playground Global bought out my interests earlier this year when the noise around my divorce and departure from Google made it difficult to focus on the tasks at hand. Playground is still an investor in Essential and we’re continuing to innovate.
The “noise” Rubin is talking about here is actuallyreporting about his alleged sexual misconduct, including an incident where he is said to have coerced a Google employee into performing oral sex in 2013. Rubin received a $90 million golden parachute to leave Google quietly, and then Google continued to keep allegations against him andother executivesquiet for years, sparking anger from employees inside the company and helping lead tothe 20,000 employee-strong Google Walkout for Change.
The centerpiece of theBuzzFeedreport is a claim that Rubin also walked away from Playground with a payout, this time for more than $9 million, though it’s possible that’s just the company returning his investment.
Despite trying to focus on the tasks at hand, Rubin’s noise isn’t going away. After revealing a new Essential phone this week, he was immediately excoriated by the Android press;Android Policeeditor-in-chief David Ruddock said thathe would reject access from Essentialgiven the serious allegations against Rubin. Responding to Rubin and RuddockatWired,Lauren Goode asked whether we can separate troublesome creators from their products any longer.
This is all Rubin has publicly said about the allegations:
1/2 The New York Times story contains numerous inaccuracies about my employment at Google and wild exaggerations about my compensation. Specifically, I never coerced a woman to have sex in a hotel room. These false allegations are part of a smear campaign
— Andy Rubin (@Arubin)October 26, 2018
In 2017, Rubin tooka temporary leave of absencefrom his smartphone startup Essential aftera report atThe Informationrevealed his 2014 departure from Google came after an “inappropriate relationship with a subordinate.” At that time, it wasn’t clear he stood accused of sexual misconduct.
Despite ending his business relationship with Playground, Rubin is still listed as a “Founding Partner” onPlayground’s people page. And he’s still in the building.