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Technology

Alphabet’s legal chief to retire after misconduct allegations

David Drummond
David Drummond, chief legal officer for Alphabet, is retiring after allegations of personal relationships that violated company guidelines.
(Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg)

David Drummond, the legal chief of Google parent Alphabet Inc. and a company veteran, stepped down following questions about his conduct at the technology giant.

Drummond, 56, will leave Jan. 31, according to a note he sent to colleagues Friday. The company has not named a replacement, an Alphabet spokeswoman said. She confirmed that Drummond did not receive a pay package on exit. He has been selling millions of dollars in company stock during the past year.

“I believe that it’s also the right time for me to make way for the next generation of leaders,” Drummond wrote in the note, which Alphabet provided to Bloomberg News.

Drummond was Google’s first lawyer and ran the search giant’s legal and corporate development arms for years before shifting to parent company Alphabet in 2015. He played a central role in landmark decisions at the company, such as the right-to-be-forgotten dispute in Europe and the exit from China in 2010. Drummond also oversaw key acquisitions, such as Android and YouTube, and helped set up Alphabet’s prodigious venture capital arms.

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Last year, Drummond was accused of having had a relationship with a female employee in the legal department. The woman, Jennifer Blakely, later came forward saying Drummond abandoned her and their child and repeatedly violated rules governing workplace relationships.

Drummond has said the two went through a difficult breakup and that he “never started a relationship with anyone else who was working at Google or Alphabet.” Axios reported in September that Drummond married another Google employee.

Alphabet’s board this year began investigating how misconduct matters were handled. The probe included a look into the behavior of Drummond. Accusations of misconduct by other senior Google executives sparked criticism that the company hadn’t done enough to reform a culture where powerful men weren’t penalized for inappropriate relationships or sexual misconduct. Thousands of Google employees worldwide walked off the job in November 2018 to protest after a report that Andy Rubin, a former executive, received a $90-million pay package following allegations of sexual harassment. Rubin has denied the allegations.

Drummond’s departure comes after Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai took the top job at Alphabet, succeeding co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Since 2015, Drummond has overseen the company’s two investment arms, GV and CapitalG, as well as Jigsaw, a political research division. The spokeswoman said the company has not decided if an executive will oversee those units.


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