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Andy Rubin has left his own incubator — but he’s still in the building

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The former Google executive was accused of coercing sex from an employee

Asa Mathat

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 founded after leaving Google in 2014. Rubin confirmed to The Verge today that he’s no longer with the incubator, following a BuzzFeed report 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 to The Verge.

Rubin tells The Verge that 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 actually reporting 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 and other executives quiet for years, sparking anger from employees inside the company and helping lead to the 20,000 employee-strong Google Walkout for Change.

The centerpiece of the BuzzFeed report 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 Police editor-in-chief David Ruddock said that he would reject access from Essential given the serious allegations against Rubin. Responding to Rubin and Ruddock at Wired, Lauren Goode asked whether we can separate troublesome creators from their products any longer.

This is all Rubin has publicly said about the allegations:

In 2017, Rubin took a temporary leave of absence from his smartphone startup Essential after a report at The Information revealed 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” on Playground’s people page. And he’s still in the building.