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Alphabet’s Chief Legal Officer Stepping Down Amid Investigation (nytimes.com)
345 points by SuperKlaus 42 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 283 comments

Interesting comment from Bill Maris from Axios.

Bill Maris, who founded Google's venture capital arm and reported directly to Drummond before quitting in 2016, tells Axios...

"The news of David Drummond leaving Google today brings to mind a quote from one of my most favorite creatures. 'At an end, your rule is. And not short enough, it was.' I had been asked in the past why I left Google in 2016, and I have never really commented on that. David Drummond is the reason I left Google. I simply could not work with him any longer. It’s that simple. We have very, very different ideas about how to treat people, and this was a long time coming."[1]


I met Bill years ago and he was insanely helpful to me at the time. Google lost an incredible person when he walked away.

> Drummond was charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2005 with causing Google to violate securities law because he failed to advise the company's board that the company was required to register $80 million in stock options used as compensation for employees.[1]

Do you know anyone who would hire someone after making a $80MM mistake??


Not entirely sure about the date, but wasn't everyone backdating options and/or marking them as zero cost to the company?

In the late 1990s "everyone" was doing so -- and then a nonzero percentage of "everyone" went to jail for it. By 2005 people were on notice.

I worked for Bill for about a year at GV. He was one of the friendliest managers I've ever met at Google.

I randomly met Dave Drummond once at a coffee shop in Sausalito (I didn't know who he was at the time... he just commented on my Google shirt), and he gave me an inexplicably uncomfortable feeling.

I think it is a bad idea to say this about him without providing a concrete example on how he made you uncomfortable. I'm sure I have accidentally made someone uncomfortable before. Does that make me a bad person? I hope not.

Of course it doesn't make you a bad person. In fact, there's a good chance you're a good person, and if you have accidentally made someone uncomfortable, it was through something they could easily put their finger on; you said something, you reminded them of something, etc.

This doesn't sound like it's that. He does, after all, call it 'inexplicable'; literally unable to be interpreted or expanded upon. It was a 'gut' feeling, a combination of all the things you pick up quickly and instinctively, the summation of which is discomfort.

That _also_ doesn't mean the guy is bad, or that it's necessarily fairly representative of him. Just that he gave the OP a feeling of discomfort.

It is totally unreasonable to go around commenting on third parties giving off creepy vibes of no consequence based on no evidence. Not to be too personal because a comment isn't the measure of a commentator but kcanini is basically saying nothing with as much negative allusion as can be put into a comment. It is a comment with no consequences, no relevant context, no observations and no argument.

Gut feelings are often surprisingly accurate, sometimes we all pick things up a lot earlier than our consciousness cottons on. But that is no standard to hold in public discourse. There are a bunch of people who give off creepy vibes who are great and a bunch of people who give off positive vibes who are creepy. Binning people like that should ideally be done with evidence or at the very least an argument to give the comment some substance.

We've figured out that good looking people are not more upstanding than ugly people. Truly the next step is to avoid comments like that. Truth is no defence for a comment like that; a comment that says nothing is automatically truthful but also meaningless.

> Gut feelings are often surprisingly accurate, sometimes we all pick things up a lot earlier than our consciousness cottons on. ... We've figured out that good looking people are not more upstanding than ugly people.

There, see the difference? You said it yourself - as it turns out, being good looking vs. ugly is not meaningful evidence as to whether you're going to treat others fairly. Being actively disdainful of others to the extent that you're giving off huge "creeper" vibes (perhaps unwittingly, perhaps intentionally!) can be evidence of sorts - at least in a very loose, "more likely than not" sense.

Of course, this is not to say that it should be considered anywhere close to OK to spread wild rumors about "the creeper vibes that this creepy guy gave me once", or anything like that - just think about how open this would be to abuse! But OP wasn't doing that, at all. He/she was seeking to confirm the assessment that others had already, independently come up with, and that can be a very good thing.

Drummond is black. I'm not one for political correctness, but there is pretty conclusive evidence that a lot of non-blacks people think black people give off creepy vibes. The in-group favoritism bias is a very real thing and it is very reasonable that it manifests as a vague unsubstantiated feeling.

Somebody saying they ran into him at a coffee shop and got what amounts to a feeling of bad vibes is literally not evidence or conformation of anything about the man's character. It is quite likely to be run of the mill background racism. We know nothing about the commentator, nothing about the situation. And it looks like the standard outcome of racism. Even if it isn't the commentator can do a lot better than that with minimal effort. Now if there were any evidence of any kind proffered that would be a different story. You are fabricating some notion of some sort of 'active ... disdain' here that isn't mentioned in the objectionable comment. If they don't mean unsubstantiated they shouldn't be saying unsubstantiated. They should be substantiating their claim.

The standard should be higher than that comment.

> but there is pretty conclusive evidence that a lot of non-blacks people think black people give off creepy vibes.

There's pretty conclusive evidence that a lot of people think 'people outside their in-group' give off creepy vibes, yes. It's not a black vs. non-black thing, it's literally that being together with 'familiar' groups of people makes you feel more comfortable than otherwise. And while this can be a source of unwanted 'noise', it can also be quite separate from the more specific feeling about a particular person's attitude. I'm pretty sure that if we asked OP about black males other than this guy, he/she would tell us that no, as a rule, they did not make him/her feel uncomfortable the way he did.

(After all, working at a firm like Google, in this day and age, involves being exposed to people of many diverse backgrounds and being willing to engage with them as peers regardless of how one might initially feel about their group identity. That's a pretty good antidote to ingroup biases!)

I did mention disdain as a possibility because that's perhaps the most common source of those "inexplicable" creeper vibes, and also because OP themselves seems to be drawing a contrast between these and the "friendly" attitude of the person they worked with.

>Being actively disdainful of others to the extent that you're giving off huge "creeper" vibes (perhaps unwittingly, perhaps intentionally!) can be evidence of sorts - at least in a very loose, "more likely than not" sense.

This statement shows a surprising lack of empathy or objectivity or even self-awareness.

Consider that Person A and Person B meet and that Person A gets the creepy vibe from Person B - for no clearly defined reason, it just happens.

Person B increasingly tries to socially interact with Person A and this puts Person A in a tough position because they don't like the creepy vibe that they get from Person B.

Person A continually tries to use social cues to try to deter the interactions from being frequent or even increasing. Person B just doesn't "get the clue", as it were.

It might be unfair or untactful for Person A to use contempt or disdain to get the interactions with Person B to decrease; however, we can probably safely arrive the conclusion that this might be a far more tactful route to use than just calling Person B a creepy cunt to their face, yeah?

The problem with your explicit inference is that Person B never has reason to take pause and consider that it was their creepy vibe that initially caused the situation to occur, much less their continued attempts at increasing interactions that caused it to exacerbate.

If Person B has the "it's never me, it's always them" mentality, then we can presumably arrive that the conclusion that this is ultimately what occurred; however, to arrive at the conclusion that Person A used contempt or disdain against Person B solely because Person A is the creeper entirely detracts and ignores (in a very subjective way) Person A's experience[s] with/around Person B.

Succinctly put: You're ascribing to malice (e.g.: creepiness) where another reason can just easily and just as validly be subjected, without even considering that possibility.

> Person B increasingly tries to socially interact with Person A and this puts Person A in a tough position because they don't like the creepy vibe that they get from Person B.

If Person B is an empathetic, objective, self-aware person (i.e. not a Creepy Guy), they're of course not going to do that, They'll figure out that Person A is acting uncomfortable, for whatever reason, and dial back on the interaction as opposed to trying again and again in the same way. Perhaps they'll try a different "tack" if they feel that engaging with Person A is that important to them, but they'll still be way more careful about it than they otherwise would. Simply because it's the sensible, rational thing to do at that point.

As for Person A, the sensible thing to do would be to walk away from the whole thing well before they even get a chance to be made contemptful or disdainful. If they're unable to do even that then, well, there are ways you can call Person B a creeper to their face in a quite polite, respectful, and even plausibly-deniable way (i.e. Person B gets to save face!) and Person A should probably resort to them. That alone would be enough to break the vicious cycle of contempt.

Quite simply, the symmetry you're pointing at here just doesn't exist - being creeped out by someone is not the same as being a creeper yourself! Not even close.

>Quite simply, the symmetry you're pointing at here just doesn't exist - being creeped-out by someone is not the same as being a creeper yourself! Not even close.

You're being disingenuous in your argument. You're ascribing behaviour with the benefit of hindsight for a particular person (Drummond) and using that as a blanket definition for everyone else in the world that may be rude/disdainful. The equivalence simply doesn't exist and is in no-way emphatically true.

In fact, it's a rather far leap from the charitable position that gave the plausible deniability from the previous statement[s]: "...at least in a very loose, 'more likely than not' sense".

How do you propose to resolve this dichotomy that you're creating? Double-down?

For example, by your definition, wouldn't Gordon Ramsay automatically be a creeper? How about Simon Cowell?

How do you resolve your definition with the dichotomy created by reality demonstrated by their behaviour combined with their lack of being actual creeps (as far as anyone knows)?

The danger with such unqualified sentiments is that there are many things that can make someone uncomfortable. Let me be more plain: David Drummond is (was) the most famous black male executive in tech. I have heard black men voicing frustrations at people being uncomfortable at them for no good reason.

I am not saying that the OP or anyone here is being racist. We need to provide more context to these statements if we are going to say these in public. Otherwise, some groups of people will be at the receiving end of these kind of statements more often than the rest of us.

> I think it is a bad idea to say this about him without providing a concrete example on how he made you uncomfortable.

They don't have to justify themselves to you. He saw what he saw, and felt what he felt. if you have any problem with that, that's on you.


not here to people please, just being authentic.

So what? This comment is nonsense.

The majority of human communication is nonverbal. I saw this same kind of commentary about Epstein's "assistants". Humans can read humans to an extent that should impact behavior (but rarely does). Get over it.

is that a star wars quote???

Yes I believe that’s what Yoda says to palpatine in episode III.

which is a weird quote to use, considering palpatine went on to rule for a couple more decades after the big fight.

I really liked Ben Horowitz's new book "What You Do Is Who You Are". However, the only passage that I disliked and stood out to me is when he defended David Drummond for his ability to thrive at Google for a long time despite the corporate culture changing.

This was after Drummond was called out publicly for abandoning his kid he had with a subordinate: https://www.law.com/corpcounsel/2018/10/25/report-alphabet-c...

I am sure he's made a lot of people money, but it's not like Google couldn't find a great legal chief who also wasn't a terrible person.

Edit: First article I linked to was paywalled, so here is the underlying story: https://medium.com/@jennifer.blakely/my-time-at-google-and-a...

This is the same Ben Horowitz who defended illegal option price fixing and other ethically dubious behavior in his last book. I'll probably get penalized for this, but achieving success is not equivalent to being a role model.

In Horowitz's defense (on the options pricing matter, hopefully not taking this thread too far off course), I thought he had explained his position on options pricing reasonably: https://dealbook.nytimes.com/2014/02/06/how-ben-horowitz-avo...

>> defended illegal option price fixing

That's literally the opposite of what he did in the book, and in subsequent interviews.

> "HR told me that Sergey's response to it was, 'Why not? They're my employees,'" Ayers said. "But you don't have employees for f---ing! That's not what the job is."

Ooooof. That shatters the "Early on Google's culture was great!" narrative...

[1]: https://www.businessinsider.com/google-sergey-brin-employees...

Not really. Eric Schmidt (also a notorious womanizer) had a saying while I was there: "More revenue solves all known problems." When everybody at the company is getting rich, they're all working on exciting problems, Fortune and Time and BusinessWeek and Playboy magazines are featuring employees on the cover, and everyone you meet is impressed at where you work, then employees are willing to overlook a large number of shenanigans and petty injustices. It's only when there's no chance at getting rich that people care about the little things like being treated fairly, not being sexually harassed, and so on.

Lest you think I'm being cynical (I am, but also realistic), note that similar cultural shifts have also played out at other Silicon Valley startups (notably Uber and Zenefits), that the financial and cryptocurrency worlds have even worse cultural problems, and that 49% of America elected a president whose attitude toward women is "grab 'em by the pussy!", usually explicitly citing his promise to bring back jobs, glory, and power to America as the reason why they overlook his personal failings.

I think this sums up not just big cooperate, but large part of our society in general as well. ( May be a bigger problem in US than other parts of the world, but still a problem )

I often wonder why realistic people are called cynical, even when they are facts happening everywhere in a statistically large sums. Do others live in fairy land?

    "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it."
--- George Bernard Shaw

I can give the cynical answer to that. Being correct is a lousy strategy for social creatures, and making the best decision within the limits of what a person knows is a nearly guaranteed way to lose out to someone who takes risks. In that context, realists are not encouraged by the broader society. Better to be surrounded by and encouraging of irrepressible optimists, they explore more and are more likely to try to change the world for the better because they don't understand the essential futility of it all.

Realists live humble, modest lives. Seek to change themselves themselves and such. Accept the futility of it all. Realistically the difference between comfortable and opulent is not as large as it is made out to be. The optimal strategy is to use an approach that is excessively risk tolerant and then hope that you are in the group of people that are lucky. Almost all the people who are 'winning at life' are using some variant of that, or descendants from someone who was.

Your risk-taking realist needs at least one more quality -- a high pain tolerance. There are two pains you need to deal with, the pain of fearing failure, and the pain of failure itself.

Failure, as in "that machine is halted, and it's not going to move ever again" kind of failure. (Of course, I guess you can always clear out some entropy and start feeding it input again..)

That to me is optimist are taking the VC route and growing at all cost. Realist are tacking the DHH route and simply just grow.

I dont see how Realist cant succeed. There are lots of Realist winning in life we just dont hear about it. There is also the assumption of realist dont take risk.

I just dont think optimist are the recipes for succeed, but neither are realist destined for failure.

Because when you simply accept the world as is, it looks a lot like you're endorsing the status quo. Especially on this site where a lot of people seem to take a weird pseudo-detached outlook. Trying to analyze things in an almost entirely emotionless judgement free manner. I think this is seen by people as enlightened.

Personally I find it genuinely disturbing. It becomes hard to tell where this sort of detached analysis ends and where it becomes just actually not caring about or not seeing the moral issues here.

This isn't really the site for people who want to create genuine social change in the world, other than through startups. The site guidelines say that what's on-topic is "anything that gratifies one's intellectual curiosity". Curiosity is more about knowing things than doing things. I think one implicit belief held by the folks who started this site is that if you do want to challenge entrenched power structures, the best way to do that is to be very circumspect about who you tell that you're challenging power structures, because you can expect to have a strong negative reaction from the power structures themselves. (Peter Thiel describes startups as "a conspiracy to change the world".)

There are other sites on the web that are attempting to organize people for large-scale social change, ones that are presumably watched (and cared about) by the FBI, as opposed to just being watched (with idle curiosity) by the FBI.

Peter Thiel has an extremely vested interest in preserving the status-quo. Frankly I think the notion that he knows all that much about genuinely creating any sort of movement to be questionable at best.

It's not about changing the world it's about not dehumanizing everything.

I love how you defended not trying to make the world better because HN has a ToS.

I think GP is merely suggesting that, if you are doing something truly subversive, it is best not to shout about it on a public internet forum.

Its telling that the people touting this view most often directly benefited from the situation they are now conveniently apathetic towards.

1. Make millions of dollars doing grey area work

2. Grey area work is now identified as black hat work

3. "Thats just the way it is"

Because when you simply accept the world as is, it looks a lot like you're endorsing the status quo

It looks that way only to a particular subsection of society (leftists). Given your staunch defence of unions the other day I guess that's very much consistent with your expressed outlook here.

For conservatives accepting the world as it is doesn't automatically imply endorsement or support for the status quo. It only means you accept that the world is big, you are small, and for almost all problems on a social scale there's either nothing you can do or - just as likely - any attempt to fix it via social engineering will make things worse rather than better.

This is because they view most social problems as inherent to human nature and human nature as essentially fixed. If you can't change human nature then many apparent social ills are unfixable, and indeed can't even really be described as problems to begin with, no more than people's inability to fly by flapping their arms is a "problem".

To leftists this conservative acceptance often looks like coldness, lack of compassion or outright support for the existence of problems, a view which unfortunately can often then be used to justify nastiness, no platforming, aggression or even violence against them. But it's not any of those things. It's just acceptance.

>>It's only when there's no chance at getting rich that people care about the little things like being treated fairly, not being sexually harassed, and so on.

Make me a star Harvey...

I don't think the 2016 election is a good analogy, as both candidates had their share of skeletons in the closet, with the non-winning party arguably having skeletons that were more of a national security risk than a cultural one. People seem to conveniently forget this fact though.

1. That is unarguably false. 2. There were other candidates. 3. Mr Trump also won the primary.

We'll have to agree to disagree on point 1, as there's plenty of common knowledge out there that I don't need to muddy the thread with.

The parent comment was referring to the general election of 49%, and the "grab by the pussy" story broke after the primary was over, so point 3 is a straw man argument.

Edit: Sometimes I underestimate how in the dark people really are on the subject so I did a quick search to find this op ed which shows that, yes, there really were issues that voters were concerned about from a national security perspective, namely the contributions to multiple civil wars. https://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/political_co...

> I want the Iranians to know, if I am the president, we will attack Iran if Iran were to attack Israel -- even if there were no Congressional authorization or a clear and present danger to the U.S

I mean, as a "Clinton is the worse option" quote, that hasn't aged well this week, has it? Mind you, the entire article is just the same old "Trump is visibly awful and we can work with that" many idiots ran with and were completely wrong about.

Point 3 is not a straw man argument; he was objectively a horrible person before that quote came to light. It wasn't remotely surprising to anyone.

We've had many presidents who were not great people, it turns out that's never been a requirement for the job.

Did he start 4 civil wars though? That's my point, a lot of voters weigh that heavily against what you bring up. Don't shoot the messenger.

Just because some right wing opinion piece thinks Hillary Clinton started 4 civil wars doesn't make it true.

she convinced Obama to back military coups against the democratically-elected leaders of Honduras and Egypt.

The Intercept (no friend of the Clintons!) writes:

A retired U.S. military intelligence officer, who helped with the lobbying and the Honduran colonels’ trip, told me on condition of anonymity that the coup supporters debated “how to manage the U.S.” One group, he said, decided to “start using the true and trusted method and say, ‘Here is the bogeyman, it’s communism.’ And who are their allies? The Republicans.”

A network of former Cold Warriors and Republicans in Congress loudly encouraged Honduras’s de facto regime and criticized the newly elected Obama administration’s handling of the crisis.


By the time Clinton got involved the coup was complete.

The others are the same.

Read the US reaction to the Egyptian coup: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_Egyptian_coup_d%27%C3%A9t.... It's easy to criticise it, but hard to come up with what the reaction should have been. It's worth noting that both parties had fairly similar reactions here.

Does anyone really believe that Clinton and Obama were backing militant Islamists in Syria and Libya? The countries were a mess and they were stuck trying to find a way forward - they didn't (and shouldn't have!) wanted Gaddafi or Assad in power, but both conflicts were multi-sided messes where one group would get taken over by another.

Ignoring USA politics for a moment, can we admit that the current state of Syria is better for both residents and the world than the current state of Libya? I.e., that it's better not to completely destroy society, subjecting everyone who lives there to unrelenting death, violence, poverty, and slave markets?

Err I think you have that back to front?

It's Syria that is mostly destroyed and has millions of refugees. Libya is bad but not quite as bad.

I agree with your point that there is degrees of destruction though.

Yes they both have produced lots of refugees. The Bosporus is easier to cross than the Mediterranean, so more Syrian refugees have ended up in Europe. Lots of people died and had their lives destroyed in both wars. The Syrian conflict, even though it started later than that in Libya, is at this point largely winding down except for one location in which "rebels" still remain. The recognized sovereign government maintains public order and provides life-improving services. Libya OTOH is still entirely a hellscape of violence and privation. They have regular public slave markets, etc.

You'll see occasional media content stressing the horrors of Syria, but there's never anything about Libya. That's because reporters (justifiably) fear to go there.

I'm not trying to underplay the Libyan situation at all, but do you have any evidence that it's worse than Syria?

They both started in 2011. The Syrian conflict maybe winding down, but has started a new phase (in Syrian Kurdistan).

Syria had slave markets too.

The UNHCR data[1][2] shows a lot more refugees from Syria than Libya (don't forget Libya is often used by refugees from other parts of Africa as their outgoing port to Europe, so news reports on refugees arrivals from Libya don't mean the refugees were Libyan).

One source on the Wikipedia article claimed 1/3 of the Libyan population had fled to Tunisia. This seems non-credible: Neither Tunisia nor any refugee agency makes this claim. [3] claims "there are 2 two million Libyans abroad, mostly in Tunisia", but this is still less than half the number of Syrian refugees (over 5 million) and less than the number of registered in Turkey alone (over 3 million).

I think your "That's because reporters (justifiably) fear to go there" statement is also unfounded - in Syria journalists were targets of both ISIS and the Syrian state, and frequently murdered by either of them.

[1] https://data2.unhcr.org/en/situations/syria

[2] https://data2.unhcr.org/en/country/lby

[3] https://www.brookings.edu/blog/future-development/2015/03/17...

Who exactly do you think started four civil wars?

Often bankrupt property tycoon riddled with dubious overseas Russian debt and has historic shady dealings in a number of countries doesn’t have skeletons in his closet that would impact national security?

Right. There was a reason he was Russia’s preferred candidate, and it wasn’t because they had too much kompromat on Hillary to know what to do with.

The Wiki page for CIA activities in Syria - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CIA_activities_in_Syria#War,_2... - includes the choice quote "CIA-armed units and Pentagon-armed ones" battling each other.

If Russia had a preference, theories of kompromat look pretty weak compared to theories that maybe Trump just looked less likely to topple regimes basically on Russia's southern border. Hillary was probably going to continue in the same vein as either Bush or Obama, at least Trump would have appeared as a new draw from the deck.

Trumps "peace with Russia" pronouncements are one of his best features. It is a good year when the US president isn't flattening countries a la Bush. If there was a path to swapping out the missiles for insulting tweets that is a big win for everyone. Not to say Trump is particularly good, but really the US has an impact on the world and wide-eyed anti-Russia conspiracy theories help nobody. At least his administration has been better than Bush's for the Middle East.

> but it's not like Google couldn't find a great legal chief who also wasn't a terrible person.

This is actually an argument I wish would come up more often in cases where prominent people are fired or lose opportunities due to misconduct. Critics invariably react as if there aren't hundreds or thousands of qualified people for the position who didn't conduct themselves inappropriately, but I would argue that there almost always were.

There are hundreds of talented directors who could direct your children's movie and never tweeted about molesting children in a movie theater.

In general, I agree, and I also agree this is not acknowledged often enough.

I can think of one exception, though: I think Apple would have done significantly worse if they had forced Steve Jobs out in response to the option backdating scandal or the non-poaching collusion scandal.

That’s not an exception; that’s the norm. Talent in every field is wildly unequally distributed. Messi makes the average international player look kind of ok. The average international player makes club players look like a weekend hobby player. The hobby player can run rings around people who don’t care about football.

Satya Nadella has what? Quintupled Microsoft’s market capitalization during his tenure? Steve Ballmer was so bad the stock jumped ~20% on the news he was resigning.

Qualified is not the same as good. Passing the minimum quality bar to be acceptable on some level is very different to having even one success, never mind having multiple, massive successes.

Qualified is what you’re looking for in areas so routinised that everyone is adequate and no one is worth even ten times the average performer.

Assuming that the story in https://medium.com/@jennifer.blakely is accurate, that man is a monster.

David was married and had a son

She's not exactly squeaky clean either.

The story of these men is always that they are going to leave their wife, which they obviously won't.

Agree - so presumably the author believed what she wanted to believe, or didn't really care.

An estranged wife though.

He claimed. He was still married to her years later, so not that estranged.

Plenty of decent single men out there, she went for the married one with kids.

Not disputing the guy's behaviour seems appalling; so her due diligence on his character and his actual single status appears to have been poor.

That article describes abhorrent behavior, good lord, he should have been fired multiple times over.

> it's not like Google couldn't find a great legal chief who also wasn't a terrible person.

Did he commit a fireable offense while on the job?

It's not an employers responsibility or right to dismiss someone for conduct in their personal life.

Fucking your reports is not your personal life. It's your professional life. It opens both you and your employer to professional liability.

Under American law, if my manager, Bill, is having a secret - or not-secret affair/relationship/'friendly' arrangement with Sally, who reports to him, I have grounds to sue both Bill, and my employer, on the allegations that this is a quid-pro-quo relationship. If they break up, Sally also has grounds to sue both Bill, and the employer, on allegations that she was pressured into this relationship. It turns into an incredibly nasty game of he-said-she-said, which is why the professional thing to do is... Not sleeping with your reports. Professionals don't open their employer up for liability, in exchange for personal gain.

If he were sleeping with some rando engineer that worked on Cloud, that would be his personal life - because he is outside that engineer's reporting chain.

Steve Jobs also abandoned his kid. He created a $1 Trillion company.

Exactly. Success as a business person has nothing to do with success as a moral or ethical person. In fact it's probably easier to be one when not being the others.

Being good at business does not make you a "good person".

Some could argue, that under sufficiently corrupt or inherently unfair regime, business success is mutually exclusive with being moral/ethical person.

I completely disagree.

Power and influence allow one to be a shitty person without having to deal with the consequences that other folks might, so the situations where that happens are outrageous and rightfully get a lot of exposure. However, this is a consequence of the fact that you already need to be powerful. Unless you get lucky, or otherwise hit the jackpot, you generally have to be a nice person to work your way up to that point.

Not going to lie; taking advantage of others can be a great short-term business strategy. Long-term, not so much. People tend to remember shitty behavior.

> Not going to lie; taking advantage of others can be a great short-term business strategy. Long-term, not so much. People tend to remember shitty behavior.

Vinod Khosla. Robert Bolton. Samantha Power. Practically every dictator bar Lee Kuan Yew.

Even Lee's dictatorship seems less benign now that we've learned that it's hereditary...

Did you skip reading the second paragraph I wrote?

If you’re already powerful, the same rules don’t quite apply.

> Long-term, not so much. People tend to remember shitty behavior.

People remember Amazon workers have to piss in bottles to not get fired, but they don't stop shopping there. People know of Chinese factories with anti-suicide nets but they keep buying iPhones.

> People remember Amazon workers have to piss in bottles to not get fired, but they don't stop shopping there.

Sorry, but this has nothing to do with the point I was making.

If someone screws you over in business, you're going to try to avoid working with that person in the future. That's just common-sense.

Agreed. And it's up to the citizens to make choices that reflect what they wish to reward or not reward as citizenry.

Oh Come on, the two story is entirely different. One was having an affair for a long time, knowingly had a child, and abandoned the child.

One had a complex relationship at the time that he refuse to believe the kid was his. And he didn't "abandoned" her, he reconciled.

Ehh, that might be giving Jobs too much credit. He tried, and failed, quite a lot. But he did try.

I don't think Jobs was diddling his employees though. Big difference.

That's not how business works.

The idea that business cares only about profit is just plain wrong. The law people think of is almost never relevant. Each year, millions of business decisions are made knowing full well that it will cost a bit of money, not bring in any (or even good PR), but is the decent thing to do.

As but one example: Google once gave us money for a non-profit event, in no way related to their business, with explicit instructions not to mention them.

And then the shareholders punish them:


>American Airlines agreed this week to do something nice for its employees and arguably foresighted for its business by giving flight attendants and pilots a preemptive raise, in order to close a gap that had opened up between their compensation and the compensation paid by rival airlines Delta and United.

>Wall Street freaked out, sending American shares plummeting. After all, this is capitalism and the capital owners are supposed to reap the rewards of business success.

>“This is frustrating. Labor is being paid first again,” wrote Citi analyst Kevin Crissey in a widely circulated note. “Shareholders get leftovers.”

Can anyone explain why they're downvoting this?

I know anecdotally My employer constantly gets in trouble during earnings calls from shareholders for doing anything remotely environmentally responsible because it impacts margins. It's pretty clear capital has no intention of being ethical at the cost of profit

Because it's being phrased as "punishment", which implies some kind of punitive action. "Oh the greenies are putting trees over green, we'll show them! Watch your share price tank!" That's not what happens. It's a bunch of quants sitting and running the numbers forward a few years to estimate numbers and price accordingly, not a conscious decision to punish. The big traders don't really have a particular attachment to a given company and just buy and sell accordingly. A big chunk of it's algorithmic anyways. If it decreases profit, a company can expect to see a decrease in share price because the company will likely be worth less in a few years. The phrasing of the parent implies it's an intended or targeted action, but that's not how markets work.

I understand your reasoning and appreciate you explaining the downvotes. I still think it could be argued that GP’s comment could be better understood in terms of “what” rather than “how”. It’s easy for humans to interpret the outcome of the algorithmic pressure as punitive. And I would say is also understandable that is interpreted that way generally and specifically in GP context with that quote about leftovers. As to the how, would it be possible NY hat humans/quants make algos that encode that believe?

It is how markets work. Your description just makes it an emergent property of how the markets function.

If your anecdote is true then how do you know that?

I called them and asked for money. See my use of the word "us".

So, yes, maybe they did it because they knew I'd be going around using them as an example of altruism in business, 12 years later.

I think it's more likely the rationale was to support a local business, thus building a stronger community for their employees to live in, thus allowing them to be more attractive to prospective employees. Maybe they also thought it'd increase the chance that you'd apply there.

Because they were involved in it??

You're correct, that's not how companies usually make their personnel decisions. But one would think more companies would factor in PR-risk as a real financial risk. But Google being Google economically-speaking, this still probably isn't a material event.

There's also the risk of employees not being able to work effectively if they don't feel safe/comfortable in their work environment.

So it is in fact very much how business works... between bad PR and company cultural issues. This stuff matters.

Not to mention businesses have customers and investors who care about these things.

I would assume there is extensive child support that would more then compensate? (Article is paywaled, so I don't know the details).

I’m pretty sure money doesn’t compensate someone for growing up without a father.

These sexual misconduct investigations at Google are really finding some critical stuff. At this point my guess is that it is related to the Larry and Sergey resignations, and we will eventually hear information that reflects poorly on them directly.

Haven't we already? Sergey was banging everything that moved at one point.

ref: https://www.businessinsider.com/google-sergey-brin-employees...

Xoogler here; I haven't been close to the food chain to be there in person, but close enough to see photos from Managers/owners trips to Thailand, and believe me they were not going there to visit Temple of the Emerald Buddha. I seen photos that UK's the Sun would probably pay me seven digits for, but I was much younger and still wanted to live lawsuits free life. Fun times.

Details pls!

We've heard it already. They literally had a "masseuse room" where Sergey would have sex with employees inside the Google building.

This phrasing is a bit misleading. It makes it sound like Sergey had designated a room exclusively for sex with employees and called it the "masseuse room." To be precise, Google's offices include private massage rooms in which employees can get professional massages. Sergey allegedly had sex in one or more of these rooms.

> It makes it sound like Sergey had designated a room exclusively for sex with employees and called it the "masseuse room."

Yes, it does sound like that. I'd advise all people in leadership to avoid conduct that could be interpreted this way.

Edit: Thank you jacquesm for fixing my freudian slip :)

Interrupted? I think you meant 'interpreted'.

Both are apt.

Oh, that makes it fine, then. Carry on. /s

Quote from link above: "HR told me that Sergey's response to it was, 'Why not? They're my employees,'" Ayers said. "But you don't have employees for f---ing! That's not what the job is."

The next line is really illustrative of whose interests an HR department serves.

>"'Oh my God, this is a sexual harassment claim waiting to happen!' That was my concern," she recalled

Sure, but in this case, stopping the behavior that is likely to lead to harassment claims is aligned with both the company's and the employees' interests.

I might be wrong, but I don't think there's any law that forbids having consensual sex with employees. It's unethical if they're his direct reports, sure, but I don't think it's illegal. I'm sure if I had _fifty billion dollars_, I'd have to fight off women like zombies in a movie even though I'm already married.

There is a potential criminal risk if a relationship can be construed as nonconsensual, coerced, or quid pro quo.

More generally, there's a tremendous civil liability, both personally to the principles involved and the firm, through such activity. A liability which may be entirely independent of the apparent (or actual) consensuality at the time, and which might be filed by non-participants (e.g., other employees perceiving sexual favouratism or discrimination).

A principle function of a corporation is as a risk-externalising, and limiting, legal structure. (This is literally stated in some forms of organisation, as with an LLC: limited liability corporation.) The principle job of management and oversight is to maximise the reward-to-risk ratio.

Company founders openly and documentedly treating the employee pool as their personal coital resource is a risk in the extreme.

Consent is murky at best when there's a large power discrepancy between two co-workers. See: everything that's been going on with Hollywood in the past couple of years

The law has no concept of "large power discrepancy" affecting the notion of whether sex is legal or not, if there's no violence or force involved.

The attempts in recent years by a small group of feminists to broaden the definition of non-consensual sex to include "I had sex with that rich guy because he could give me an attractive job but later regretted it" just degrades everything, especially women. It causes people to stop believing them when they say they were coerced by a powerful man. After all, Weinstein's accusers settled, didn't they? And his ex employers picked up the legal bills. Rumoured to be because he had tons of evidence that the complainants had willingly accepted their side of the "deals" and that such arrangements were commonplace throughout the industry.

Did it occur that the employee might be attracted BECAUSE of the power discrepancy?

Sort of: "I 'want' to have sex with him because I don't get to decide not to have sex with him and keep my job"

There's no criminal law against it, but it opens you up to civil suits from aggrieved parties (who can be either participants in the affair or bystanders who feel they were given a raw deal because of the relationship). Hiring, firing, and performance management is supposed to be based on your performance at doing your job, not because your boss dumped you and now dislikes you. Sexual harassment and discrimination suits are both relatively easy to document and tend to be viewed sympathetically by juries.

You're assuming there are "aggrieved parties". To the best of my knowledge nobody was "aggrieved" by Sergey at least. He probably had them sign something before the "massage" or else I'm sure we'd see some lawsuits.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not justifying sexual harassment in any way. But it's not "harassment" if it's wanted and consensual, and it's not _automatically_ unethical if the employee is not in his chain of command or even if they are, if they aren't forced into it, and there's no punishment for declining. If they make advances on their own and are merely not turned down (see e.g. Rosenberg, who IIRC wasn't in his chain of command), that's stretching the definition.

The "aggrieved party" doesn't have to be a party within the relationship. Anyone else in the org can make a case that their career opportunities were impeded by the existence of a superior/subordinate relationship within their reporting chain. People in a romantic relationship are assumed to not be impartial when it comes to things that may affect their romantic partners, which means that it's pretty easy to make a case that an executive's decisions were biased by the affair in a way that may harm your career. So if you were Rosenberg's teammate and she got placed on a hot project like Google Glass while you were passed over for the position, you could make the case that your career was harmed because she's sleeping with the head of Google X.

No aggrieved parties stepped forward. And you can make whatever "cases" you want, but if no one was "aggrieved" you don't really have a case.

>> you could make the case that your career was >> harmed because she's sleeping with the head of Google X

Funny how otherwise "progressive" people automatically assume that the only reason women would sleep with their boss is to advance their careers. The romantic component doesn't factor into it at all.

Thankfully, simply making a case is not enough under US law. You have to prove it as well. Best I can tell Rosenberg did not experience any meteoric career rise. Nor would there be any way to accomplish that without drawing attention: Sergey is not in charge of promotions, committees are.

In fact, as an ex-Googler, I'm not sure Sergey was in charge of _anything_ at Google for the past 15 years. He had his hobby projects, but he was as checked out as a founder can really be. He's literally probably there for the dating pool. :-)

I'm also an ex-Googler, and was at Google when the Rosenberg affair broke. Sergey was nominally head of Google X (the reporting org that Google Glass was in) at the time. Whether he was actively doing anything other than boning his employees is another matter; I had a number of friends in X (including in Glass) and his job largely seemed to be to cheerlead various X initiatives at the time.

And the role of HR and legal is to minimize the company's risk. Just because the risk doesn't materalize doesn't mean the risk wasn't there. The way sexual harassment claims usually play out (if both parties have competent lawyers) is that the company pays out a significant sum of money and then both sides sign non-disclosure agreements and waivers to further liability. The point isn't to go to trial, the point is that the threat of facing a sympathetic jury incentivizes both parties to work out a settlement.

There was one very obvious aggrieved party in to the Brin/Rosenberg affair in Hugo Barra, Android's VP and spokeperson and Rosenberg's ex-boyfriend who quit to head Xiaomi's international efforts right as the affair broke. Presumably Google gave him a generous severance package to not disparage or sue the company, which is why you haven't heard him disparage or sue the company.

He can't be "aggrieved", because his relationship with her would also be unethical, and because _she dumped him to be with Brin_. I'm pretty sure Barra wasn't entitled to her sexual favors, so there's no leg for him to stand on in that argument. I can see how he'd be pissed off enough to leave though.

This is reasonable, but it's very hard to be outside the sphere of influence of a company's top officer, even if you are formally not a direct report. At the very least, it is risky for that top officer, because it would be hard to shake off any accusations of coercion, were they brought up. And, of course, actual coercion becomes much easier, within certain range.

> He probably had them sign something before the "massage" or else I'm sure we'd see some lawsuits.

This sounds quite unlikely.

Why? That's exactly what a playboy billionaire should ask his sexual partners to do in year 2020 when consent can be "withdrawn" retroactively and a male is considered guilty unless proven otherwise.

Why would you ever sign one of those?

Go get boned by a playboy billionaire I suppose? Why do people sign prenups? A better question is, would you, if you were a billionaire, risk having sex with someone you don't know all that well unless you can 100% incontrovertibly prove there was consent?

Typo: "go" -> "to"

Yes, it's probably not illegal, but it should still cause the exec to be fired.

He's not an exec, he's a founder (which together with Larry and Eric controls over 50% of shareholder voting power). He'd have to fire himself.

That's not entirely true. The board has the power to fire executives (that's one of the purposes of having a board, for executive oversight). You're correct in that those three could theoretically vote to change the board, but doing so also has other drastic consequences. That also takes time and process, and it's possible the board can make a move before they have the time to see that process through.

Consent requires no coercion, meaning that both parties are fully informed of all relevant information and both are in a legal capacity to do so. It is guaranteed that employees are not in a position to be fully informed because they will not have the same access to company information and employee resources.



There are infinitely many facts. They don't select themselves. Humans do that, for reasons of their own, and sometimes their reasons don't match the intended use of this website, which is curious conversation. So while facts are a nice-to-have, they're not sufficient to make for a good HN post. Other things are needed also.



It's honestly more angering when figures like this think everyone else is dumb and will swallow the story that nothing is happening, it was just the right time to leave. This one is even worse, he's trying to sell himself as a wise leader leaving to see his pupils grow:

> He said that it was the “right time for me to make way for the next generation of leaders”

> In his farewell note, Mr. Drummond did not mention any of the claims.

Really? At least mention the full context around your departure. Moreover, he tries to pull this one off:

> “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,”

> His departure had been telegraphed in the last few months as he sold off most of his shares in Alphabet, unloading roughly $170 million worth of company stock from November to January.

Come on. Drummond, you're leaving as consequence of the investigation around your misconduct. This is not an opportunity to try to squeeze idolatry out of. Just leave.

This is just standard corpspeak. All of that can be summarised to "k, bye".

> Last year, a committee of independent directors from Alphabet’s board hired a law firm to investigate its handling of allegations of sexual misconduct and inappropriate relationships by current and former executives as part of its legal defense against shareholder lawsuits over its handling of the matters, according to documents viewed by The Times.

Let’s sure hope they investigated Sergey and Larry too, unlike them, at least this guy got married to his office romantic interest.

> Let’s sure hope they investigated Sergey and Larry too, unlike them, at least this guy got married to his office romantic interest.

One of them, at least.

Another one, whom he had a baby with, was allegedly pushed out of the firm.

They both “stepped back” shortly after the announcement of this investigation, so it seems likely they were also examined.

Am I the only one not thinking there's anything too outrageous in the article? I've also read the medium article by the ex. It paints the picture of somebody that definitely doesn't get top marks in family, but ... well... he's not that much different from the average american. A standard deviation, maybe? He met somebody else, separated from the wife, tried to make a new family, failed, went back to the wife. Makes me feel a bit sorry for everyone involved, but that's it. I really don't see a demon.

If the bad part is moving the girlfriend in another department, everybody looks like they've been overly accommodating, honestly. Having the bosses's wife work in the same department is not fair to the other members of the team. "Hey, Bill, who do you think will get the big bonus this time? You or the bosses's wife?". The decision to be together was mutual - acting as if it wasn't is extremely insulting to her. Some consequences are positive and some negative, that's just life, and one is that they couldn't work together anymore.

I can't see anything else. Alleged affairs? Not that many, not while in a committed relationship, and to be perfectly candid, not unusual if they happened. And given the current popularity of poly, possibly accepted by everybody. Definitely not loudly protested at the time.

What did I miss that makes him the devil?

He's not the devil, he just makes it extremely hard for alphabet to claim any moral authority (or that it's really being serious) about the issue of executives facing any consequences for misbehavior. It's pretty awkward to simultaneously say "we will never have another Andy Rubin case" and have a chief legal officer who dated (and mistreated) a subordinate.

Maybe unpopular opinion but I would assume men in positions of power / wealth would be more likely to engage in these types of behavior.

Romance / sex is a pretty primal thing for most people, in many cases limited by available options and / or consequences. It also tends to override the more logical parts of the brain. Having more options opened up, even if causing ethical issues I'm pretty sure will push a good percentage of men over.

I have no idea what that percentage is, but I wouldn't think it is very small. I think if we dig hard enough we'd uncover a lot more of of these cases in many different companies.

I would assume people in positions of power / wealth are more likely to engage in these types of behavior.

Possibly, but at least in the news it’s been primarily men. Could be just reporting bias. Would be interesting if there were actual numbers though.

I suspect its reporting bias by the victims, male victims of sexual harassment/rape are often not taken seriously.

In addition, many men don't consider a lot of behaviors as sexual harassment, and so think nothing of it.

If we look at the behavior of alpha males vs. alpha females in other non-human mammalian species, it suggests that it is at least more common among alpha males. Not that it couldn't also happen with females.

What do non-human mammalian species have to do with anything? Few things vary across species more than sexual behavior. Even chimps and bonobos (very closely related, same genus) have wildly different gender roles, sexual/mating patterns, etc.

It makes no sense at all to invoke the entire of mammalia.

Not one of my favorite people at Google. We had an interesting discussion about why Google, which was "transparent" about ranking and rating kept two variables about your performance secret which made it impossible to verify whether or not your bonus was in fact what they had promised you. Very annoying.

The multiple scandals, trip-ups, investigations and blunders at Google sounds very eligible to be turned into its own theatrical melodrama set.

In this rehearsal, the CLO has already been "off script" for many years and the "directors" have told him that he isn't getting his $50m golden parachute this time. Instead, he leaves with nothing and takes an Uber back home. No travel expenses paid.

People zoom in on the wrong things. What this person did is one thing. In a normal company that kind of thing results in a chat with your boss and ultimately some kind of resolution that probably involves people leaving the company.

What happened here instead is years of this being the status quo with people looking the other way that really should not be. Even helping to cover this up; or even actively harassing people pointing out that this wasn't cool. Google is firing people who speak up and rewarding people who abuse their power & privilege.

This person was very gently nudged out the door when he should have obviously been fired years ago. This kind of thing is a no-brainer in modern companies. You fuck around like that and you fail to keep it a secret, that's a career ending event. It's a failure of leadership right there. That leadership is still in place. The problem is still there.

I thought his relationships were pretty much known... for a long time by everyone?

I swear I remember folks publicly noting these relationships.



> Drummond is also a board member of private equity firm KKR & Co. L.P.

KKR is the PE firm well known for destroying the companies they buy, for their benefit ... and not for their LP's benefit. Dastardly.

Once again, we must sadly admit that Google is a place where bad things occasionally happen, just like at every other company big and small.

No $50M for him.

Yes, the $150MM in stock he's unloaded over the past quarter will have to suffice.

how do you live on only $150MM in this day and age?

If he's lucky he'll buy a house in the bay area with that

Earlier / dupe: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22013436

This is (for obvious reasons) getting multiple submissions. The CNBC article seems the most comprehensive to date: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22014115

That post from earlier received no discussion, so it isn't a dupe (does not count as such).

Right. I'd gotten a similar clarification from dang when I emailed mods.

When I was posting the dupe/prior notes, there'd been about 4-5 submissions within an hour, and it seemed likely the story would continue to draw submissions. A challenge in that case is that no submission gains critical mass.

A challenge of user-submission-based media aggregators.

It's pretty wild that he was there since 2002, he's practically a founder.

He specifies that he was there over 20 years, prior to the company being incorporated, and only joined full-time in 2002.

That being said: David Drummond is a terrible person[0], who only has been there this long because of Larry Page and Sergey Brin's protection, because they are terrible people too[1][2]. The way Google's highest executives have treated women is disgusting and inexcusable. And while Drummond may not be getting an exit package, he sold off $200 million in stock this past year.

Evil is still very, very good business.

[0] https://medium.com/@jennifer.blakely/my-time-at-google-and-a...

[1] https://www.businessinsider.com/google-sergey-brin-employees...

[2] https://fossbytes.com/larry-page-andy-rubin-150m-sexual-hara...

Please keep the "terrible person" trope off HN. The online call-out culture is good for ratcheting up indignation, but it wrecks curious conversation. Here we want curious conversation.


Does this extend to conversations about Trump as well?

Two answers. First: sure it does. It's not about the person, it's about ourselves and what things like personal attacks do to the community [1].

The second answer is more pragmatic: in practice, it's much easier to simply ask "please don't take HN threads into partisan flamewar" [2]. Everyone understands that. If we say "please don't do personal attacks" or "please don't do online shaming" about a major political figure, people mistake that for an expression of political support and object sharply. It's not worth the confusion, and I only have so much energy for explaining that it doesn't mean we're Trump supporters or communists or whatever.

[1] https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=true&que...

[2] https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=false&qu...

> After our son was born, I received a call from HR notifying me that one of us would have to leave the legal department where David was now Chief Legal Officer (...)

This sounds like the worst possible policy I can think of. Get pregnant from your boss, and HR kicks you from the team! How does that help anyone?

The right way to implement a policy like that is to say that supervisors are not permitted to have relationships with their subordinates. That way, if such a relationship develops against the rules, it's clear upon whom the consequences should fall: the supervisor.

Supervisors get more money and power from the organization than their subordinates, so it's fair for the organization to have higher expectations for the behavior of the supervisor than the subordinate.

Agreed, but a bigger factor is the power differential, IMO: the boss has the higher need to maintain at least an image of impartiality, and it's harder for the subordinate to resist advances knowing that the giver is key in deciding when they can and can't get time off, pay rises, etc.

Great point.

Google had one that said exactly that when I joined in 2009, but that post-dates the alleged affair(s) here, so I wouldn't be surprised if it was introduced directly because of this.

Drummond wasn't the only one engaged in such shenanigans, too - I can think of at least half a dozen executives (including both founders) who engaged in relationships within their reporting chain.

Supervisors also have more skin in the game so, quite trivially, making the supervisor responsible also means it's inherently easier to enforce that policy! The fact that they'd try to shift that burden onto the subordinate just tells you how much they care about following the rules, i.e. not at all.

I wonder what they would have said if her response had been, "OK, David can leave. I'm fine right here." It's hardly like they could fire her for refusing to leave her job after her boss knocked her up. Unfortunately all these kinds of hypotheticals that come up in these situations are impossible to test, because the person without power always has too much on the line to stand up and fight.

They knew the relationship was against company policy from the get go, what did they think was going happen? Two people made a poor decision and have to live with the consequences?

> aware that our relationship was in violation of Google’s new policy which went from “discouraging” direct-reporting-line relationships to outright banning them.

During manager training done by any lawyer worth their salt, it is drilled into you two hundred times that if you start a relationship with a subordinate, you have to declare this relationship to HR, you have to move jobs, and that you may be personally liable for any of the legal fallout that comes with workplace relationships/allegations of harassment/allegations of nepotism.

It seems that the execs don't get the same kind of training that line managers get. Or, perhaps, they are protected from the consequences. One set of rules for me, another for you...

Both people knew it was wrong, but Larry and Sergey's best buddy got promoted to become one of the most powerful executives on the planet and paid hundreds of millions of dollars, and the woman got pushed out of her job and left to support their kid herself.

She was forced out because it was against company policy. She wasnt forced out of google, but to a different department. And she voluntarily quit google, she was never fired. It's a sad story, but it's just adults making their own decisions that don't work out.

> so I quit Google, signing whatever documents they required because likewise, I wanted to protect him

And David wasn't forced out for violating company policy because...? He's a man? He's Larry and Sergey's friend?

No one was forced out, HR said one of them had to leave. We dont know anything beyond that she was the one to change departments. She wasnt fired.

She worked for him in the legal department. If she's asked to change departments, what's someone presumably trained and skilled in law going to do? Start coding? Run a product team? Do sales?

Right, she had affair with her boss at a company where there was a clear policy against it. What was she supposed to do? Maybe think ahead and realize this is a bad idea, OR realize there are potential consequences for making said decisions. Regardless when google found out they did not fire her, they gave her a chance to continue employment at the company. I dont know what her qualifications were but if she managed to get hired at google I would imagine she could also find work relatively easily outside of google.

>aware that our relationship was in violation of Google’s new policy which went from “discouraging” direct-reporting-line relationships to outright banning them

Usually in these situations the onus should be on the senior colleague, because, besides the increased expectations of seniority, they have the power to punish a junior colleague for refusing sexual advances.

Dude just fades into the background, a fact she must make choices around, and anyway she must have landed OK, right?

Amazing how senior execs in powerful places selectively lose agency.

> She was forced out because it was against company policy

> No one was forced out

He forced the consequences onto her.

None of these men will ever actually face consequences. They are all obscenely wealthy and well connected.

What did he force onto her?

From the article, he lied and as a consequence of the lie extended a sexual relationship with a person. Then when his actions (among other things) had created a new human, he behaved in a way most people recognize as badly. This narrative clearly depicts a despicable person. If you are happy with a lot of powerful institutions being controlled by and for despicable people, then by all means, there's no issue. However, it's a common trend for despicable people to run institutions into the ground rather than create a happy institution that ends up realizing the "transform humanity for the better" vision that so many profess.

He tricked her into having a baby with him, then abandoned them financially and emotionally.

> He tricked her into having a baby with him

Come on now, these are consenting adults. She wasn't a child getting tricked. She was a grown woman who had consensual sex, didn't take birth control or use protection, and choose to take the pregnancy to term.

In her blog post she says that they had a long relationship, decided to have a baby, and after the baby was born he began another affair and left her to care for the baby alone.

I wouldn't say "he tricked her into having a baby", but it's not exactly nice to leave someone after a baby was born and not provide any support at all (she had to fight him in the court for child support).

Well she's stuck raising the son of an emotionally abusive sociopath.

Besides that he pressured her into quitting with promises of financial support, then left her with the baby and refused to pay.

I can't even comprehend the type of person who doesn't see the cruelty of this man. She trusted the wrong person, that doesn't justify his behavior.

I agree hes probably a terrible person, but I just dont see where he is abusing his power at Google. He didn't pressure her into a relationship, he didnt force himself upon her, didnt threaten her job if she didnt cooperate, he didnt pressure her into leaving, she even says so in the article. These both sound like people of poor judgement, I just dont see the abuse people are trying to levy.

> so I quit Google, signing whatever documents they required because likewise, I wanted to protect him

>Besides that he pressured her into quitting with promises of financial support, then left her with the baby and refused to pay.

California doesn't have child support? If he's not in his child's life he's a scumbag but at the very least I'm assuming the child is getting a very generous financial contribution.

From her blog post she did eventually get a custody arrangement which requires he pay substantial (in her words) child support.

> Well she's stuck raising the son of an emotionally abusive sociopath.

She decided to have a child and she decided to raise them. These are choices she made. He decided he doesn't want to take part in raising his son.

It sounds like you want her to get all the pros and him all the cons in this situation. But their decisions have both pros and cons for both of them. Her decision means she gets to have a family/child (at the cost of the work/money needed to raise a child). His decision means he's a bad father who will his son will likely always hate but it has its financial advantages.

> Besides that he pressured her into quitting with promises of financial support, then left her with the baby and refused to pay. > > I can't even comprehend the type of person who doesn't see the cruelty of this man. She trusted the wrong person, that doesn't justify his behavior.

Yes, he's a cruel liar. Probably most people would be if given the opportunity (yes I'm a cynic and I don't believe in natural/native human kindness) but I'm not trying to make excuses for him. From the article he seems like a terrible person. But so what, that's not illegal. In the end what are we trying to achieve by pointing this out?

There are people who aren't cruel liars and who manage to make their companies truly great and beloved. "Don't do what is illegal" is not "don't be evil" and being evil will make it harder to organize the worlds information, and harder to get a long sustained effort from others to help with that task.

It's not a punishment, it's to prevent nepotism and moral hazard. I think normally they will try to place you in the same role in some other project but that may not have been possible in this case(?)

The way you implement that is by proactively asking for a transfer before the relationship comes to light. If you don't do that, this is essentially proof that you were seeking to abuse the situation in some way hence penalties (on the supervisor, see my side comment) are very much appropriate.

No, it's punishment.

It's not down out of cruelty, it's done out of greed. He's more important, so even though he should absolutely 1000% be the one on the chopping block, she gets forced to sales. Then he uses the financial hardship and promises from him to get her to quit.

How to tidy up a disastrous bit of professional misconduct in just a few easy completely sociopathic steps.

> How does that help anyone?

It helps the boss, of course.

> Get pregnant from your boss

There isn't much anyone can do to prevent disaster after this.

Oh wow.

> David would go for months or even years at a time completely ignoring my pleas to see his son — not even so much as a text to us, despite living about a mile away.

I can see not having the desire to be with her and break up the relationship, but abandoning his child and not seeing them for years at a time is downright evil.

It's so strange to hear how Google touts itself to be at the forefront of inclusivity and tolerance, and here their executive acting this way for decades and nobody does anything.

What is "evil" about not wanting to see a child that you presumably didn't want to begin with? A woman with an unwanted pregnancy can abort. Men don't have that option. But that doesn't obligate them to an emotional bond with the child.

> What is "evil" about not wanting to see a child that you presumably didn't want to begin with?

The child doesn't get a choice about being brought into the world, so your desire or intent to produce a child is irrelevant. If you don't want to father a child, don't do anything that could reasonably lead to producing a child. If you father one anyway, that's on you. To deliberately alienate yourself from your child in that way, especially when you have the wealth and resources he does, is evil in my opinion.

> The child doesn't get a choice about being brought into the world, so your desire or intent to produce a child is irrelevant. If you don't want to father a child, don't do anything that could reasonably lead to producing a child. If you father one anyway, that's on you.

That's on a man no more than it's on a women if she gets pregnant and the previous agreement was that the guy had to use condoms and he didn't. Otherwise what you're saying is "if you don't want to get STDs or have kids never have sex". Luckily that's not how the law works.

People routinely get pregnant despite using hormonal birth control. (Condoms are even less effective.) The purpose of sex is having kids, and unsurprisingly humans are very good at conception. If you don’t want to have kids, don’t have sex.

>If you don’t want to have kids, don’t have sex.

How do you square this with your claim in a sister comment of "by virtue of their right to control their own bodies can abort a baby before it is born"

Someone may not want to have a kid and also object to having an abortion for any number of personal and/or religious reasons.

Factually there's no contradiction. But in terms of principles, there seems to be a tension.

And yet, we generally accept that women have the right to an abortion regardless of their willfully chosen actions prior. How do you square the two positions? Note that I'm not arguing that the man has a right to absolve himself of financial responsibility.

There is nothing that needs to be squared. People are responsible for the predictable consequences of their actions. We hold women and men equally accountable when their having sex produces a child.

The fact that women, by virtue of their right to control their own bodies, can abort a baby before it is born, doesn’t change the analysis for either. Both are still responsible for a baby that is born. The fact that the woman has additional options to avoid the consequence doesn’t absolve the man of responsibility (both to provide financial support and to be a father). Women may have many reasons for not aborting a baby. (Maybe they even believe it’s morally wrong!) But if you take action that predictably may result in an outcome, you don’t get off the hook because someone else had the power to avert the outcome at a later stage and chose not to. Both people are responsible.

>The fact that the woman has additional options to avoid the consequence doesn’t absolve the man of responsibility

I disagree. Having more options does in fact alter the level of responsibility.

An abortion doesn't result in a person so it's not really comparable. My understanding is that the vast majority of surgical or medical abortions occur due to either 1) grave risk to the mother's life 2) serious genetic defects or malformities in the fetus or 3) well before viability (during a time when spontaneous abortions are also common)

Basing a principle of rights or duties based on contingencies (live birth or not) seems dubious. If the mother has a right to decide against the burden of a child, the father should as well (all things being equal). Granted, all things aren't equal, but the financial obligation seems sufficient to fulfill a duty to the living child. Besides, why should we force contact when the father doesn't want it? I don't see that as benefiting the child.

> If the mother has a right to decide against the burden of a child, the father should as well (all things being equal).

This is your false premise. Nothing about fairness requires the law to give someone additional rights to offset someone else’s intrinsic advantages. Neither men nor women have a “legal right to decide against the burden of a child.” If either has a child, they’re on the hook for it. The law doesn’t need to give men an additional legal right to “make up” for the fact that women can terminate a pregnancy by exercising their natural right to control their own pregnancies.

I'm talking about what should be the case, i.e. what is a moral right or duty. Legal concerns just add extra complication that are tangential to my claims.

I am not talking about what the law is, but rather what fairness requires the law to be. Fairness doesn’t necessarily require giving one sex more legal rights (allowing men to disavow parental obligations) to make up for a biological limitation (inability to terminate a pregnancy).

I just don't know how to respond meaningfully when you mix moral and legal concerns. Regarding fairness, I don't see disavowing parental obligation as more legal rights. Women can give their child up for adoption after all.

> The people in Google’s legal department were very close and in 2004, at my birthday party at the W in San Francisco, David reserved a suite to host an “after party.” It was there, that night he told me how he wanted more children. I urged to him to have one with his wife but he demurred and said that would never happen because he was estranged from her, which admittedly I already knew — he was the only married one in attendance without his spouse.

The kid was, in fact, David's idea from the get-go. He lamented at a party to a then-just-coworker about how badly he wanted more children. Of course, whether or not that was just his move to try to get a woman into an affair with him or not, we have no way of knowing.

Okay - "evil" may have been a touch too strong.

I'll go with "scummy and reprehensible".

And: "deeply at odds with the ethical standards that Google once claimed to stand for (not that we ever took them seriously when they said those things)."

Do we really want companies firing employees for personal morality issues that have zero bearing on their ability to do their job?

No, we don't. But we do want companies firing employees for personal morality issues which have bearing on their ability to their job.

I can endorse scummy and reprehensible.

Read the article - he wanted the son until he didn't, and then he peaced out.

Holy crap, that is some story.

Well, she thought that he'd marry, and stay faithful to her. She knew the deal, should be happy with child support...the rest is bitter grapes

You clearly did not read the linked article.

Yes, this is a woman who entered a relationship and it didnt work out. Ive definitely read it and this is not a #metoo story. He didnt force himself up on, he didnt take advantage of her, he didnt threaten her, he didnt demand she date him, it's about dating someone at work when there are clear rules around it. No one said she had to leave the department, but that one of them would have to leave. It's a tragically sad story, especially for the child, but this was two consenting adults in an adult relationship that was full of bad choices.

Well, then maybe you read the story but did not understand it. That's fine with me, but I did read the story and that is not my takeaway at all.

For starters, there is a clear abuse of power here with one party being the senior person at the company suggesting that things will be 'ok' when clearly there was a plan all along to create a situation of asymmetry and dependency, followed up with a lot of very mean and manipulative action.

Besides using the child as leverage against the mother there is a clear - and continuous - act in the self interest of the dominant party, more wealthy, still employed and willing to use every dirty tactic in the book and a couple I'd never even seen before against the other.

Utterly revolting and not simply 'two consenting adults in an adult relationship full of bad choices'. That's victim blaming at its worst.

An abuse of power? They had an affair, how was that a plan to create a situation of asymmetry and dependency? How did she not know this was a bad idea all along? Did she think a person willing to cheat on a spouse was going to be a good person down the road?

> David and I began an affair shortly after that night and we were together for years.

She made a bad choice in life. She had an affair with a married man that worked in her department, when she knew such a relationship was against company policy. No one said she had to leave the department, only that one of them had to.

Everything that happened after, while terribly cruel, is not anything you dont see frequently when a relationship falls apart that involves children. It's very sad story but I am not victim blaming anyone, they are both at fault. But they both willingly went into this situation with their eyes open knowing full well what the consequences could be.

I don't get this "abuse of power" angle at all. Having a relationship with a subordinate is not an abuse of power. Insisting that your job rests on a relationship is an abuse of power, but without evidence that happened (and it seems like it didnt), there's no abuse. This idea that a power differential invalidates a relationship is nonsense.

The fact is, people spend half or more of their waking hours at work. You spend more time with your colleagues than you do your own family in many cases. Relationship are going to happen. We need to learn how to deal with it rather than try to codify rules against it.

"One of us needs to leave. If you leave, I'll take care of you financially, since I'm making far more money here".

"Oh, you left, thanks. Oh, that financial help? I changed my mind about that".

It's possible to be abusive in a myriad of ways.

The abuse of power is that he maneuvered her into a position of dependency, then bailed out and used the fact that she was now dependent on him against her.

Maneuvered implies intent. How do you know that was his intention from the start?

Well, it certainly didn't happen by accident. Fathers should support their kids, period.

> This idea that a power differential invalidates a relationship is nonsense.

Why? Seems pretty sound to me.

Because power differentials do not invalidate consent? Power differentials do not indicate coercion and people are fully capable of consenting even in the presence of power differentials. We've gotten to the point where we equate potential for abuse with abuse. Its a little ridiculous.

Surely you agree that sometimes power differentials can invalidate consent. Can sex between a police officer and another person that they have placed under arrest be consensual?

I don't think a power differential in itself invalidates consent. In your example I would say the scenario of an arrest is inherently coercive. But this is just quibbling over semantics.

What's the fundamental difference between an employer / employee relationship (where economic power can be wielded) and a police office / arestee relationship (where legal power can be weilded)?

What makes the latter "inherently coercive" but not the former?

Aren't these just different degrees of fundamentally the same thing?

I don't think so. With a police officer/arrestee relationship, coercive power is already being wielded. Being detained is inherently coercive. Any "request" from an officer acting in an official capacity is done with the implied backing of state power, and being arrested clearly establishes the coercive relationship.

But employment is transactional. There is an expectation that the agreed upon transaction will be upheld. A request that falls outside of the transaction, e.g. your boss asking you out, does not inherently imply economic coercion (whereas a request within the employment transaction does). But specifics of the context can alter that, i.e. wording of the request or specific context can imply coercion.

Consent is the minimum required for sex to not be rape. That doesn’t mean the relationship is ethical.

I don't know of a scenario where I would say a relationship is unethical if consent is satisfied. What scenario do you have in mind?

Adulterous relationships. Incestuous relationships. Relationships between professors and students. Relationships based on economic or employment coercion. Relationships in the workplace, even if not coerced, that could result in favoritism prejudicial to others. Again, consent merely distinguishes rape from non-rape. There are many degrees of wrong and unethical conduct short of the outright criminal.

Some of those are fair points (scenarios issues involving external people), although considering the context of this discussion I was referring to ethical concerns between the two parties involved in the relationship. Coercion of various sorts negates consent in my book.

I’ll add to the list: doctor-patient, lawyer-client, judge-lawyer, judge-litigant, social worker-charge, police-detainee, prison guard-prisoner, etc., even in contexts where there is no actual coercion. There is more to relationship ethics than consent. You have to consider the ethics in the context of the other relationships between the parties. Lawyers engaging in relationships with their clients is in fact an ethical violation, regardless of consent, because of the possibility of or appearance of abusing the lawyer-client relationship. Relationships necessarily also affect third parties (other partners, coworkers, etc.) Those effects must be considered too. People owe each other (not just partners, but third parties) more than just not committing rape.

>>> This idea that a power differential invalidates a relationship is nonsense.

Why? Seems pretty sound to me.

Pretty demeaning to a mature woman, smart enough to be hired by Google. Maybe we should have a male guardian sign off on such things? just to be sure?

Do you think he got the same phone call saying one of them had to leave?

This situation is fucked up on multiple levels.

You don't punish the subordinate. Given his level, he should have been out.

Instead they transferred her from legal to sales and her performance tanked because it was a job she was in no way qualified to do.

He got her to quit (and sign a bunch of forms) promising to support her, then bailed.

He refused child support and after she sued, he started using threats against her kid to fuck with her.

This is a woman who got into a relationship, then realized that not only was the guy a complete psycho but the company had his back because he's the important one.

The rot at google is very real. Top down too.

He did not get her to quit, she made that choice herself because she wanted to protect him. She made that choice. Yes he is a terrible person, yes possibly psycho and this story sucks but no one forced anything.

> so I quit Google, signing whatever documents they required because likewise, I wanted to protect him

Is rape the only thing that companies should fire people for? A pattern of relationships like this is quite likely to be very bad for Google, both in terms of settlements and in terms of lost morale and acceptance of shitty behavior instead of working together on the great common project. The question isn't "forced" it's "why is firing the subordinate done instead of firing the habitual asshole when it's clearly in the companies interests to fire the habitual asshole." And the answer to that question makes it plausible that Google has been protecting bad people at the cost of their idealistic but achievable missions.

Also, she may have made that choice, but also he "got" her to quit - not sure if you've been in a relationship, but both things can be true. Someone can influence you to make a bad choice. The responsibility for that bad choice then exists in both people.

> And the answer to that question makes it plausible that Google has been protecting bad people at the cost of their idealistic but achievable missions.

Which of googles missions is idealistic?

She wasnt fired. And she quit on her own volition.

I can't speak to a pattern of bad behavior because I just dont know more than this story and the one she posted about. He absolutely sounds like human garbage, but her story isn't a #metoo story. There was no abuse, no abuse of power, no forcing anything.

> so I quit Google, signing whatever documents they required because likewise, I wanted to protect him.

... because he had promised her financial support and if he also lost his job, that would go away.

And then he withdrew / refused support, that he'd agreed to, in writing.

Yes, it's not all black and white, but it's close to willfully obtuse to see a timeline of events and then fall back to a definition of "well, he didn't hold a gun to her head/use physical violence so it wasn't really a forced situation".

I agree he's a horrible person, but all those things have nothing to do with Google and his position at Google or her position at Google. Those were relationship decisions they made on their own. They both made horrible personal decisions, but it doesn't involve google.

Except he was her boss at google, google forced her into a position she didn't want, and he encouraged her to quit under false pretenses.

This is a high level google executive engaging in grossly unprofessional behavior with one of his employees. It's abuse of both power and trust. As far as I'm concerned the judgement and behavior shown by him should make him completely untouchable.

I did but I don't take her comments after the disappointment at face value. How dare a married, billionaire cheater not settle down with her but continue to sleep with other women?

She was an adult that entered in a consenting relationship with a married man (I can guess why), she admitted so much. Google policy or not, is irrelevant since both sides knew the deal.

It's not irrelevant, it's a blatant abuse of power.

This guy is clearly a pretty sick sort of predator.

> How dare a married, billionaire cheater not settle down with her but continue to sleep with other women?

He basically got her fired and then bailed on her and their son. He refused to pay child support despite being a millionaire and is basically in an abusive relationship with her still.

It's disgusting. It's the sort of behaviour that should ruin your personal and professional life completely.

>>This guy is clearly a pretty sick sort of predator.

Maybe he was the prey. You cannot refuse to pay child support, it's one option you do not have. Play hard ball in response to stuff etc maybe, but you will pay in the end.

She should have named her price upfront. All consensual and he is a d*ck and a moron in a sense, as a billionaire, he could have used his pocket change and made her happy $$ wise. Now he gets bad press.

> Maybe he was the prey.

Yeah maybe. She's the one who wound up being abandoned with a kid though.

> You cannot refuse to pay child support, it's one option you do not have. Play hard ball in response to stuff etc maybe, but you will pay in the end.

Which is what he did. Despite being filthy rich. Then he continued to threaten her visitation rights, screw around with his visitations.

> She should have named her price upfront. All consensual and he is a d*ck and a moron in a sense, as a billionaire, he could have used his pocket change and made her happy $$ wise. Now he gets bad press.

This is the type of comment I was talking about. This just seems dismissive of the cruelty of this situation and deeply lacking in empathy for 3 people in a lousy spot.

> Maybe he was the prey

I assume you're positing that she tried to start an affair and get pregnant for child support? Nobody really knows, and it would be a "he-said-she-said" issue. What we do know is that unless he was raped (and there was no charge made of that sort and didn't happen), he made his choice and can deal with the consequences. If he didn't want to deal with the consequences then he shouldn't have fathered a bastard.

> She should have named her price upfront.

I'd support changing the law, but as it stands today and stood then, that's prostitution and illegal.

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