Alphabet reportedly fires executive named in NYT sexual misconduct exposé

Alphabet reportedly fires executive named in NYT sexual misconduct exposé

Google parent company Alphabet has fired a top executive at its X division who was named in a high-profile New York Times investigation into the company’s mishandling of sexual harassment claims, according to Axios. The executive, Rich DeVaul, held the title of “Director of Rapid Evaluation and Mad Science” at X, formerly known as Google X and the division responsible for Alphabet’s experimental “moonshots” projects like self-driving car unit Waymo. He did not receive an exit package of any sort, Axios reports.

The investigation primarily centered on Android co-founder Andy Rubin, who an employee accused of sexual assault in 2013. After Google investigated the claims and found them to be credible, Rubin left the company, but not before being awarded a $90 million exit package. Alphabet CEO Larry Page, who was aware of the allegations and the investigation’s findings, did not disclose publicly Rubin’s reason for leaving, saying in a statement at the time, “I want to wish Andy all the best with what’s next.”

Prior to the Times investigation, it was known that Rubin had been accused of some form of sexual harassment, but the nature of the allegation and his exit package from Google were not known. Rubin has gone on to found Android phone maker Essential, which recently cut 30 percent of its work force and has cancelled plans to release a second-generation Essential Phone.

Rubin has denied the claims, writing in a tweet that the Times story contained “numerous inaccuracies about my employment at Google and wild exaggerations about my compensation.” He went on to say, “These false allegations are part of a smear campaign to disparage me during a divorce and custody battle. Also, I am deeply troubled that anonymous Google executives are commenting about my personnel file and misrepresenting the facts.”

In the Times story, DeVaul allegedly invited hardware engineer Star Simpson, who was interviewing to work at Google, to the art and culture festival Burning Man, telling her he and his wife were polyamorous. Simpson attended the festival in hopes it would improve her chances of getting hired — she brought her mother with her and “professional attire,” according to the Times. Yet DeVaul encouraged her to remove her clothing and asked to give her a massage.

Later on, Simpson learned that she did not get the job, and that DeVaul knew this when she chose to attend Burning Man. Simpson says she informed Google of this series of events two years later and was encouraged not to go public with it because “appropriate action” would be taken, yet DeVaul remained at the company. In a statement to the Times, DeVAul apologized for his “error of judgment” and claimed he thought Simpson had been aware that she did not get the job when she attended the festival.

DeVaul has been an employee of Alphabet since August 2011, when he joined the X lab’s Project Loon, an initiative to deliver wireless internet using high-altitude balloons, as a chief technical architect. DeVaul assumed his role at X two years later and remained in that position since. He left the company earlier today, Axios reports. Alphabet was not immediately available for comment.

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