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Google's Page Allegedly Gave Rubin $150M Stock Award (bloomberg.com)
123 points by smacktoward 9 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 48 comments

Android Probably added 100-200B to GOOG Market Cap. I would say thats peanuts.

That's not the point. The point is, the corporation presumably has an executive compensation committee that should review and sign off on any award of this magnitude (or frankly, probably awards 10x smaller than this). Those rules are in place for a reason, to keep the company's funds from being used as a private piggy bank.

If Page thought Rubin deserved this bonus, he should have taken it to the compensation committee in advance of making the award. Of course, then there would be the risk that they would say no ...

Process just for the sake of process doesn’t make it a useful function. You can usually spot a useless administrative process by the words ‘rubber stamp’ which was used in this article to describe the later approval by the board.

In practice that idealistic oversight which such a process is supposed to bring about weren’t being followed by the board regardless. If they did it without also caring then I don’t see how the investors or public are better off for it, other than to check a checkbox.

It’s certainly useful for finger pointing later on but that doesn’t mean Page would have acted differently had they went through the process.

If they find it necessary to observe the process for ‘risk management’ then fine. But it has to still be done earnestly and to be relevant here it has to be clear this was the stopgap or protection layer needed in that situation, particularly for dealing with sexual assault allegations.

Agree 100%. The comp committee should have smacked this back in Page’s face if they didn’t support it. What’s more likely (guessing here) is that they didn’t want to pick a fight with the company’s founder and potentially set themselves up for a legal fight with Rubin (Page, like all company officers, can legally bind the company to a contract regardless of approvals, so Rubin would probably have a case here if they tried to renege).

Anyone else would have been fired for pulling this stunt. Firing the co-founder of Google for breaking the rules - well, I guess he called their bluff.

In exactly what universe is 100-200B in Market Cap not the point? Moreover, Larry and Sergei still own more than 50% of the voting rights of the company. So exactly what is the point of standing on ceremony?

> In exactly what universe is 100-200B in Market Cap not the point?

In a universe where you forfeit compensation because of misconduct.

As a more extreme example: say it is agreed that a trader gets to keep 10% of the profits they make for the company. The trader misappropriates funds but manages to make $1bn. Do you the trader is owed $100m bonus?

This is another example of the fallacy where you give all the credit to the famous leader in the news. While leadership is important, it's not like he did it all himself.

Think about the alternative - somebody does a measurably great job, growing you a new multi-billion business from zero, even making you a dominant player. Later, that person ends up as a suspect of an unrelated crime, so you deny them any reward. Why would anyone with great potential want to work for you? From outside, it could all look like there is some possibility you orchestrated the whole problem to avoid paying, e.g. by analyzing that person's weaknesses, then paying somebody else to be a bait etc. There are indeed a few cases where co-founders were baited by VCs into illegal acts like buying drugs or hiring escorts and later coerced to "do the right thing" or else...

That's probably not a signal you'd like to send.

1.) If a founder got baited into illegal acts by a VC, they should be fired immediately. Not sure how you fire a VC, but that sort of thing should end that VC's career as well.

2.) It's irrelevant that he built a billion dollar business. He was well compensated throughout his time at Google, he knew the terms of his compensation package and presumably was fine with it given that he didn't leave voluntarily. This is a case where he was given an enormous compensation package AFTER a crime was discovered that is directly related to his job function. If you lead a team, your function is to lead it well. Hitting on your subordinates and worse is NOT leading it well, regardless of the success of that team.

He should have been fired, for cause, with zero severance. Google should have accepted the inevitable lawsuit. Stand up for your values even if you lose in court, otherwise they're meaningless.

I'm tired of assholes being rewarded and worshipped in the valley. It is possible to not be a horrible person and still accomplish great things. And if it's not, then it's probably not worth the great things if you lose your ethics in the process.

> This is a case where he was given an enormous compensation package AFTER a crime was discovered that is directly related to his job function.

Was it proven that the crime was actually committed? or simply alleged?

A crime was alleged, not discovered.

> Why would anyone with great potential want to work for you?

Because most people are reasonable, intelligent, and capable of recognizing the difference between Rubin's disgusting actions, and an imaginary frame-job wherein managers withhold rewards from other managers in order to save shareholders a few basis points of value.

its not strictly speaking an unrelated crime. It wasn't like a drunk driving offense. He was being rewarded for his positive contributions as an employee and people are criticizing that reward based on his alleged negative behavior as an employee.

Nobody said he did.

Turns out people are very happy to reward results. No one needs to do everything them self.

Yeah, I just think everyone should be rewarded. The comment I was replying to attributed 100-200B in market cap to Rubin, rather than to the Android team, which is a lot of people.

Back when I worked at Google, often when something new was announced at TGIF (even seemingly minor features), they'd have slides crediting everyone who helped, and it went on and on like movie credits.

The king sips wine from his golden chalice while his pawn's die on the battlefield.

People are not freaking out because Page gave away 150M to huge benefactor and innovator, but because "Page gave away $150000000 to a sexual harassment perpetrator!!!". In this light, doesn't it look bad?

My opinion is that Rubin deserves to be awarded (with a proper company policy to prevent misuse of funds, nepotism etc). But also deserves to be fired and punished for misconduct (if it is proven to have occurred). These two are not mutually exclusive. The rest is all fluff about how the public perceives a company's culture.

well, he kind of was fired (asked to leave)

But the $150M part is much more important.

It's kind of like Larry's way of saying: "No hard feelings, Andy -- we know these things happen."

I think many thought he should not get anything because the allegations of misconduct against Rubin. I personally think that is irrelevant, he should be fired for the misconduct but the fruits of his labour should not be denied to him. Android has made world a better place and Google along with all the employees a much better company financially.

You realize that's not the issue. Right?

I think it could in fact be the only issue.

Now I have not gone through all the news on this, I don't have the time. My point is that the presumption of innocence is baked into our legal framework (morally, legally and philosophically) and Andy (last I recall) has not admitted to, been charged with nor convicted of any crime. So in theory, the "issues" that I suspect you are referring could arguably be moot.

From LP's perspective (and I can only speculate what that could be), I can see the challenge in justifying withholding a compensation package from someone who did in fact create tremendous value for you knowing that while there has been ample time to press charges for his alleged crimes no charges have been pressed.

Is an accusation that is not followed through enough to justify reneging on a commitment made? Is sleeping with someone you work with enough to renege on a commitment made? Tough questions that I don't have the answer to. Anecdotally, I live in NYC and have 3 Google couples in my apartment building and none of them are the same age (so presumably, there may or may not be some title / comp/ role differential).

Anyway, not so black and white in my opinion.

The potential golden parachutes are pre-negotiated into the contracts for these executives. Google could refuse them or alter them, but than will also probably still face litigation from that departing executive. The lawyers for the investors who are bringing this suit against google have a moral point but I proving any legal wrong doing is going to be hard. At least it brings to light how different compensation works when you are higher up on the ladder.

This isn't that. A golden parachute is in place up-front in an employee contract. This is a spot bonus of $150MM that was awarded by the CEO to an employee under investigation, without following the corporate process.

Golden Parachutes are usually in place for termination without just cause. Companies like Google (and many many others) prefer to have a friendly separation with no litigation so they just have them trigger (or give some other similar package) for the executive to go away. I wish more companies with resources such as Google would take a stand and fight. Even if you lose, for such a wealthy company the extra cost should be minimal.

What does it say to your employees when they know that the higher up the ladder you are, the less accountable you are if you screw up?

What does it say for a company to decline to enforce+defend its values in open court when it's really pressed?

That Google is no different from all other companies in the valley as the values the company espouses are just fluff when rubber meets the road. Executives are exempt or excused. Different standards for execs compared to rank-and-file.

Google has spent so much PR and money to convince employees that they are different from other companies. They are not. It is a hard pill to swallow for many starry-eyed employees who drank the cool-aid. Company has to fight tooth and nail to keep up the pretense before everyone internalizes that, "The emperor has no clothes".

> I wish more companies with resources such as Google would take a stand and fight.

I believe it has less to do with being well resourced and more to do with keeping internal politics and corporate secrets out of public court records

As well as lubricating the wheels of executive recruitment, because what exec is going to want to work for a place known to fight outgoing execs over their severance.

How many female (or any gender) execs want to work at a place giving $150 million to sex coercers on the way out?

Probably a lot because at that level they are making more than enough money...plus at a certain point, I'm sure they stop giving a shit about the rank-and-file employees...

All the ones you do not hire from outside?

I think you're right. Still, screw it. If nobody ever takes a stand, this sort of thing will keep happening (and good on the lawyer representing the shareholders for suing)

EDIT: clarification about shareholder suit

Let's remember that this company's world famous culture, and how that gathered goodwill from around the world.

Then come back to look at this report.

That's how people would then react.

People who are saying Rubin should be rewarded for creating Android ... he was, many times over. He worked at Google for almost a decade, I guarantee that he vested a ton of GSU’s. Also, Google bought his company, Danger, which is how he got there in the first place, so he got a big payday for that.

Here’s more detail on how the whole thing shook out. Basically, he used the $150MM grant as a bargaining chip to settle for $90MM in return for resigning. This award was only given when he was already under investigation for misconduct - if this was really a reward for creating Android, Page could have handed it to him any time in the other 8.5 years that he worked at Google.


Is Page still actively involved in Google? With the walkouts, and anger at Google's top level management for paying hush money to Andy, does he still have credibility with employees? Will they follow this leader? Will they consider him authentic? He is still an example of what great leadership is all about?

People are fallible and sometimes show poor judgement. I get that. Just curious how does one come out of this unscathed. Will Google HR use PR techniques to protect Larry's aura at Google. Normal people usually get fired. Founders it seems are untouchable, especially at Google. Will be fascinating to see how all of this plays out.

I'd guess Page is wisely keeping a low profile, both inside and outside Google. He never sought the spotlight; he's had health problems with his voice that may still make being a regular spokesperson challenging.

And, anyone who's a prominent "mascot" for a tech giant just gets a lot of unnecessarily personalized hate. Why not lie low and pick & choose where to influence things internally, if you have that luxury?

How might Page come out of "this" unscathed? Well, I'm not sure to the board or stockholders, he's done anything wrong here.

Those operating under a sort of "just world" assumption might wish Rubin suffers more for the reported managerial misdeeds. In practice, if he was promised giant compensation for the giant impact his projects have had on Google – and would have received this or larger compensation under the prior working assumption of continued employment – then pulling that back from Rubin could be an impractical battle for Google.

Rubin might be willing to fight the allegations, in court, down to the last detail in a manner that could cost Google even more than this package. Also, Rubin knows all the proprietary details of Google's mobile strategy & forthcoming technologies. He's perhaps the one technologist in the world with the most knowledge and ability to launch an outside threat to Android's dominance.

> ...does he still have credibility with employees?

What the fuck does "credibility" have to do with anything? I trade my skill/labor for money...who cares who the CEO/Founder is?

> Will they follow this leader?

He isn't leading a crusade...he's just a dude that founded the company that is my current employer...big deal

> Will they consider him authentic?

Who cares if he is authentic or not? I don't pay my mortgage with my CEO's authenticity...

> He is still an example of what great leadership is all about?

Not sure, don't care...

I think you're dramatizing this whole Larry's aura thing...

I think that a system that allows people who have produced (Page, Rubin) to be subject to to the tantrums (legal and otherwise) of those who didn't is a broken system.

I'm curious to hear your solution to this perceived problem.


So given this was still ‘allegations’ of sexual assault and not anything like a conviction in court, does the board have to act differently? Is there still a presumption of innocence, absent glaring evidence?

I have a feeling this will always be a bit of a grey area out of pure practicality. But there seems to be a big push these days for immediate punishment, or everything gets the brakes put on, as soon as there is an allegation. Which considering the countless examples of failed convictions and direct examples of wrongful convictions (google is full of examples) this seems like a very dangerous road to go down.

> not anything like a conviction in court, does the board have to act differently?

Not sure what happens in the US, but in England even the courts behave differently from each other. The criminal court uses "beyond all reasonable doubt" while family courts use "balance of probabilities".

A man can be found not guilty at criminal trial, and still have his children removed by family court because the finding of fact session at family court decides he more likely than not did the things he is accused of.

A private organisation is free to do what they like, so long is it complies with the law and with the contracts they've drawn up.

If they presumed him to be innocent, they should have defended him. According to the story, they basically told him that it's leave or get fired.

I agree, performance rewards should be separate from unrelated, potentially criminal acts - those should be handled at the court. Of course, if the reward is from the criminal act itself (quite a few cases of such at Wall Street), they should be denied, but that's wishful thinking and those perpetrators would get unquestionable backing from their companies until it blows up publicly, at which point everybody would wash their hands.

Good to see innovation appropriately rewarded to non executives.

I think you misspelled senior vice president of mobile and digital content.

I think his point is that the $150m (even $90m) is an outsized award for the team lead, compared to what the rest of the team received.

i think that was sarcasm

I think you misspelled "serial sexual harasser" there bud.

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