Android is one of the most popular operating systems in the entire world with an active user base of 2.5 billion people. Many people swear by Android and would never even consider iOS thanks to Android’s versatility and freedom. Considering this popularity and strong fanbase, you would think that Android’s founder is a business icon like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, but this is not exactly the case. In fact, there’s a large group of people who despise the founder of Android, Andy Rubin. Google actually paid Andy $90 million to leave the company in October of 2014. And when the details regarding his resignation from the company became public, 20,000 Google employees participated in a walkout protest. Things actually got so heated that many shareholders filed lawsuits against Google, and Google would end up settling for $310 million in 2020. From Google’s perspective, there’s no doubt that this $400 million along with the estimated $50 million they paid to acquire Android were more than worth it. But the same cannot be said about Andy given that he not only missed out on billions of dollars by selling to Google but also lost his reputation. So, here’s what happened to Android’s founder.
Taking a look back, Andy Rubin was born in 1963 in Chappaqua, New York. By trade, his father was a psychologist, but by the time Andy grew up, his father would embark on his own entrepreneurial journey. He opened up a marketing firm that took pictures of the latest electronic gadgets. This gave Andy unprecedented access to newly released or even pre-released tech, and this is what really sparked his interest in technology. Andy would end up attending the local high school in his city called Horace Greeley High School and he would graduate in 1981.Following his primary education, Andy would enroll in Utica College and major in computer science.
Must Read – Despite this background in software, Andy didn’t instantly pick up a coding job at a tech firm. His first job out of college was at Carl Zeiss X-ray Microscopy where he primarily worked with robotics. It seems that early on in his career, Andy didn’t have larger-than-life ambitions. He simply wanted to work on robotics and see the world. This desire led him to Geneva Switzerland where he got a job at a Swiss firm as a software engineer. This job didn’t last long though as Andy would soon take a vacation that would change the trajectory of his life. After a year in Geneva, Andy decided to take a trip to the Cayman Islands in 1989 where he would run into an Apple engineer named Bill Caswell.
Bill and Andy quickly became friends thanks to their shared interest in engineering, and Bill would end up offering Andy a job at Apple. Andy of course took the job and would endup as a manufacturing engineer at Apple. This is actually where Andy would earn the nickname of “Android” from his coworkers due to his obsession with robotics, but it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows.
Apple as a whole wasn’t doing all that well during this time period. Steve Jobs had been fired years before this and Apple was slowly bleeding out. So, in 1992, Andy switched over to a spinoff of Apple called General Magic that seemed to have better potential. Most of us have probably never heard of General Magic given that the company shut down 20 years ago. But, within the tech world, General Magic is often credited as being the most important dead company in Silicon Valley.
They worked on several groundbreaking technologies including smartphones, mobile operating systems, e-commerce, social media, and even emojis. There’s even a full-on documentary on General Magic if you’re interested. But, while they had game-changing ideas, these visions never turned into tangible success. And Andy would switch to WebTV in 1995 and become a communications engineer. WebTV focused on making the internet accessible through TVs and would be acquired by Microsoft for $425 million in 1997 and turn into MSN TV.
Andy stuck around for a few years after the acquisition, but in 1999, he would decide that he was done with jumping from one tech company to another. He wanted to work on something much larger,so in 1999 he would quit his job at Microsoft and found his first company.
Andy’s first company wasn’t Android but actually a company called Danger Inc. Andy co-founded this company with two of his friends including Joe Britt and Matt Hershenson. The company focused on creating software and services for mobile devices, and one of their first major partnerships was with T-mobile. If you were born in the early 1990s, I’m sure you remember the Tmobile sidekick.
It was that phone that you could slide open and type on using a full keyboard. Danger was actually the company that wrote all the software for this device, and they also played a significant role in the design of the phone as well. The default search engine used on these devices was Google.com and this would catch the attention of Larry Page. Larry and Andy would end up meeting in 2002 at a Stanford event, and this would be the beginning of a decade-long relationship. Danger would go on to release several iterations of the sidekick, but Andy wanted to focus on the software side of Danger. So, in 2003, he started a side project called Android with a few others. The original goal of the project was to create an open-source operating system for digital cameras, but they quickly switched over to cell phones.
Android was initially just a side project that Andy worked on during the winter, but in 2004, he would leave Danger and go all-in on Android. By this point, Larry had known Andy for a few years and could easily see the potential of Android. So, very early on in the project, Larry offered to acquire Android. It was never revealed how much exactly Google paid for Android, but given the total amount Google spent on acquisitions in 2005, it’s estimated that they only paid $50 million.
This is quite ironic given that Microsoft would end up acquiring Danger for ten times that amount just a few years later. It’s not clear if Andy held onto his stake in Danger or not, but sticking at Danger would’ve been the better financial move in the short term. In the long term though, there’s no doubt that switching to Android was the right move.Once Android was acquired by Google, Andy no longer had to worry about funding issues or stability as Google could easily support the operation. So, he focused on trying to create an operating system for a phone with a physical keyboard. But, once the iPhone launched in 2007, it was clear that Android had to target the smartphone market. The problem though was that they weren’t the only large players with such ambitions.
HTC, Motorola, Samsung, Sprint, T-Mobile, Qualcomm, and TI all wanted to create their own open-source operating system for smartphones. But, Android had a multi-year development lead on all the competition. And with the Samsung Galaxy and the Google Nexus embracing Android in 2010, there was little doubt that Google had probably won the mobile OS race, and Andy Rubin quickly became one of the most important executives at Google.
Things were looking phenomenal for Andy. He had more than proved his worth and Android has since become known as Google’s best acquisition of all time. Personally, I’d have to disagree with this statement as I think YouTube is Google’s best acquisition, but there’s no doubt that Android is definitely within the top 3. But, despite all this positive momentum, in October of 2014, Google would drop a bombshell. They announced that Andy Rubin would be leaving Google altogether to start up his own hardware company.
This was completely unexpected not only to the tech world but even to most of Andy’s coworkers within Google. None of them had expected Andy to leave Google so abruptly given that he seemed pretty content with his role there. Speculation surrounding Andy’s departure became rampant.Did Andy get bored with Android? Did Andy and Larry have a conflict? Does Andy not like the direction in which Google was taking Android and so on and so forth. Despite all these questions, both Andy and Google remained pretty quiet about the situation and after a few months, the media moved onto the next piece of drama within the tech world. It wasn’t till four years later that the New York Times uncovered what truly unfolded. According to the New York times, Google had received a complaint from at least
1 Google employee that Andy was involved in misconduct and harassment.
Google apparently investigated the allegations and determined that they were in fact credible It was clear to Google’s executives that they could no longer associate themselves with Andy. But, at the same time, Andy had played such an influential role at the company that they didn’t want to just fire him.
So, they basically told Andy, Hey Andy, we know what you did. We’re not gonna escalate this to the authorities or oust you publicly. But, we also can’t have you stay here. So, just take this $90 million and leave. Andy of course denies all of this and claims that his departure from Google was 100% amicable. And technically, these allegations were never confirmed in court, so there is no verdict on Andy’s guilt. Nonetheless, when the news broke, people around the world and especially Google employees were livid. Many felt that Google should have fired Andy on the spot and reported him to the authorities instead of sending him off with $90 million. And tens of thousands of these guys would stage a walkout protest against Google in late 2018.
As we touched on at the beginning of the video, these protests would escalate into lawsuits against Google that would stretch out for years. Google would apologize for the mishandling of past cases and confirmed that no future employee that was let go for misconduct allegations would be eligible for a severance package. They also agreed to invest $310 million into new diversity, equality, and inclusion measures that would prevent such situations from reoccurring. And with that, Google had completely washed their hands of Andy Rubin, but for Andy, it wasn’t nearly that easy.
ANDY RUBIN TODAY
After leaving Google, Andy co-founded a venture apital firm called Playground Global. Thanks to all of the team’s connections within the tech world, in 2015, they were able to raise $300 million in venture capital from investors including Google, HP, Foxconn, and Tencent.They turned around and invested this money into a bunch of tech startups with the most popular one being Owl Labs. Andy focused on Playground Global for a few years, but soon enough, he returned to his roots and founded a smartphone start-up called Essential Products. The company never blew up like Android or Danger, but it did enjoy a decent level of success. However, this would basically evaporate overnight once the allegations about Andy came out.
The company would hang on for a few years, but they eventually shut down in early 2020. Andy also left Playground Global around the same time in late 2019. You would think that with all these allegations and negative press, Andy would play it safe and stay out of the limelight. But, in 2019, he would make headline news again. This time, he didn’t necessarily do anything illegal, but he did do something that was arguably immoral. Apparently, Andy made his wife sign a prenup two weeks before she gave birth to their child. She has since filed a lawsuit against Andy accusing him of coercing and fraudulently inducing her to sign the prenup, but this case hasn’t really gone anywhere.
Since then, Andy has basically disassociated himself from all the ventures he was involved in and has gone dead silent. I guess it doesn’t really matter for him given that he’s worth $350 million, but his current situation is truly quite a shame. Andy Rubin has ended up as the man who has everything… and nothing. Do you guys prefer iOS or Android? Comment that down below. Also, drop a like if you respect Android even if you prefer iOS. And of course, consider checking out our international channels to watch our videos in other languages and consider subscribing to see more questions logically answered.