Andy Rubin has reportedly taken a leave of absence from his startup Essential after a report surfaced indicating he left Google shortly after being accused of having an “inappropriate relationship” during his tenure at the internet search giant.
The Information was first to report that Rubin’s 2014 departure from Google occurred soon after an investigation determined he had been in a relationship there with a woman who worked for him, then filed a complaint with the company. The Verge picked up the story, saying Rubin’s leave of absence from Essential occurred for “personal reasons.”
Rubin’s spokesperson Mike Sitrick denied the allegation to The Information, saying “any relationship” Rubin had at Google was consensual and that Rubin was never told by Google that he had been engaged in misconduct.
Google policy requires employees to disclose any relationships between an employee and a superior working in the same division, The Verge said. The company then moves one of the parties to another division. Rubin came on board at Google when the company bought his startup Android in 2005, but in 2013 he moved to take over Google’s robotics division.
The news is yet another stumbling block for Essential, which is an ambitious effort to build a line of hardware products based on modular designs and social networking features. Amazon earlier this week dropped the price of the Essential phone to $399 for Cyber Monday, and in October Essential itself lowered the price of its lone phone to $499, knocking $200 off the device.
Essential has attracted a significant amount of attention primarily due to Rubin’s tech-celebrity status—the company was highlighted as one of FierceWireless’s 15 most notable startups earlier this year, and has raised $330 million—but the phone stumbled out of the gate despite garnering generally positive reviews.
Sprint has exclusive carrier rights to sell the phone in the United States, but BayStreet Research said in September the carrier had sold only 5,000 units since its launch a few weeks earlier.