Essential founder Andy Rubin has stepped away from the company following claims he had an “inappropriate relationship” with a colleague while at Google.
Rubin’s leave of absence comes just three months after Essential launched its first smartphone. A statement from his representative denies any wrongdoing.
It’s been a rocky start for Essential. Despite plenty of excitement for its first smartphone, the company frustrated users by delaying its launch. It was then forced to slash the Essential Phone’s price tag significantly due to a lack of demand.
Now company founder Andy Rubin, who co-founded the Android operating system before it was acquired by Google, is taking a leave of absence for “personal reasons.”
Rubin backs away from Essential
The move comes after a report from The Information claimed Rubin had an “inappropriate relationship” with a female colleague while working within the Android team at Google. Details of the relationship have not been disclosed.
The report does reveal, however, that Google investigated the relationship with an unnamed subordinate internally in 2014. It allegedly came to the conclusion that Rubin’s behavior was “improper and showed bad judgement.”
The search giant has a policy that states all employees must disclose any personal relationships and work on different teams.
In 2013, Rubin left the Android team to work on robotics at Google. He then left the company altogether in late 2014. That could have something to do with the story, but it could also be a complete coincidence.
Rubin denies any wrongdoing
A statement issued on Rubin’s behalf, by spokesperson Mike Sitrick, denies any claims of wrongdoing.
“Any relationship that Mr. Rubin had while at Google was consensual,” Sitrick stated. “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.”
It’s too early to determine whether Rubin will return to Essential. But other than allegedly breaking a Google employee policy, it doesn’t seem like he’s done anything wrong.