“Any relationship that Mr. Rubin had while at Google was consensual and did not involve any person who reported to him,” Michael Sitrick, the spokesman, said. “Mr. Rubin was never told by Google that he engaged in any misconduct while at Google and he did not, either while Google or since.”
Google declined to comment on Wednesday on the circumstances surrounding Mr. Rubin’s departure. The company’s policies do not prohibit co-workers from having romantic relationships, but its code of conduct states that such relationships can create actual or apparent conflicts of interest. If that happens, the code of conduct says, “It may require changes to work arrangements or even the termination of employment of either or both individuals involved.”
The allegations against Mr. Rubin come amid a wave of sexual harassment and misconduct accusations against prominent politicians and high-profile figures in the entertainment, media and technology industries, forcing a broad re-examination how women are treated in the workplace.
In Silicon Valley, a male-dominated bastion, several venture capitalists, including Steve Jurvetson and Dave McClure, have stepped down from their posts after investigations into their behavior. In some ways, Mr. Rubin is an even bigger name in the tech industry because of how widely used his products are.
Mr. Rubin helped popularize the use of keyboards on phones by introducing the Sidekick device in 2002. He went on to develop Android, which was acquired by Google in 2005. Android software now runs on about 80 percent of the world’s smartphones.
Mr. Rubin’s departure from Google surprised many industry watchers because he had started an effort to build a robotics unit at the company, going on an buying spree that led to the acquisition of at least eight robotics companies as part of what appeared to be part of a long-term project to commercialize robotics technology. Google transferred oversight of the Android group to Sundar Pichai, who is now Google’s chief executive, in 2013.
After leaving Google, Mr. Rubin started Playground, which is part venture capital firm and part technology-hardware incubator. Google is among its investors.
Mr. Rubin founded Essential and released the company’s first product, a premium smartphone running Android software, this year. He positioned the phone as having high-end features and materials like Apple’s iPhone but without closed proprietary software like Apple’s iOS operating system. Even before shipping a single product, Essential was valued at more than $1 billion.