David Drummond, the legal chief of Google parent Alphabet Inc. and a company veteran, stepped down following questions about his conduct at the technology giant.
Drummond, 56, will leave on January 31, according to a note he sent colleagues on Friday. The company has not named a replacement, an Alphabet spokeswoman said. She confirmed that Drummond did not receive a pay package on exit. He has been selling millions of dollars in company stock during the past year.
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"I believe that it's also the right time for me to make way for the next generation of leaders," Drummond wrote in the note, which Alphabet provided to Bloomberg News.
Drummond was Google's first lawyer and ran the search giant's legal and corporate development arms for years before shifting to parent company Alphabet in 2015. He played a central role in landmark decisions at the company, such as the right-to-be-forgotten dispute in Europe and the exit from China in 2010. Drummond also oversaw key acquisitions, such as Android and YouTube, and helped set up Alphabet's prodigious venture capital arms.
Last year, Drummond was accused of having had a relationship with a female employee in the legal department. The woman, Jennifer Blakely, later came forward saying Drummond abandoned her and their child and repeatedly violated rules governing workplace relationships.
Drummond has said the two went through a difficult breakup and that he "never started a relationship with anyone else who was working at Google or Alphabet." Axios reported in September that Drummond married another Google employee.
Alphabet's board this year began investigating how misconduct matters were handled. The probe included a look into the behaviour of Drummond. Accusations of misconduct by other senior Google executives sparked criticism that the company hadn't done enough to reform a culture where powerful men weren't penalised for inappropriate relationships or sexual misconduct. Thousands of Google employees worldwide walked off the job to protest in November 2018 after a report that Andy Rubin, a former executive, received a $90 million pay package following allegations of sexual harassment. Rubin has denied the allegations.
Drummond's departure comes after Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai took the top job at Alphabet, succeeding co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Since 2015, Drummond has overseen the company's two investment arms, GV and CapitalG, as well as Jigsaw, a political research division. The spokeswoman said the company has not decided if an executive will oversee those units.
Here is Drummond's note sent on Friday:
"More than 20 years ago, Larry Page and Sergey Brin first asked me to help them with their unincorporated startup. Of course, that startup would grow to include more than 100,000 employees and make a positive impact on the lives of people around the world. From the beginning, I felt privileged to work with Larry and Sergey to realise their commitment to making information more universally accessible and useful, and was thrilled to join Google full-time in 2002.
"With Larry and Sergey now leaving their executive roles at Alphabet, the company is entering an exciting new phase, and I believe that it's also the right time for me to make way for the next generation of leaders. As a result, after careful consideration, I have decided to retire at the end of this month.
"As I do so, I'd like to thank everyone with whom I've had the privilege to work so closely over the past two decades. Whether we were fighting alongside others around the globe to protect and expand freedom of expression; pressing to make sure copyright law continued to foster openness and creativity; designing an unconventional but dynamic corporate structure that has served Google so well; putting together industry-changing acquisitions that served as the foundation for some of Google's most popular products; creating and evolving the rules that protect our users; or establishing start-up models to help unleash the potential of our amazing Other Bets: I have always relished the opportunity to work with such talented colleagues.
"In particular, I have loved building and being a part of the legal team: your dedication, drive and leadership in helping digital innovation flourish has been amazing to behold. I have also been energized and deeply impressed by my time with the corporate development, public policy, trust and safety and communications teams, as well as the folks at GV, Capital G and Jigsaw. These groups' relentless creativity and herculean efforts to further Google's ambitious mission have been beyond inspiring. I'd also like to thank BGN and all of the company's employee resource groups, whose tireless efforts continue to make the company better.
"I know this company is in the best of hands, and I am excited for what the future holds for Google, for Alphabet and for me. But, as I move on, I'd like to thank Larry and Sergey and each and every one of you for providing me with the most engaging, challenging and rewarding professional environment that anyone could hope for. I am deeply grateful."