Andrew E. "Andy" Rubin is an American computer programmer, engineer, entrepreneur, and venture capitalist. He is the founder and CEO of tech startup incubator Playground Global and a partner at venture capital firm Redpoint Ventures. He is the co-founder and former CEO of both Danger Inc. and Android Inc.
Early life and education
Rubin grew up in Chappaqua, New York, the son of a psychologist who later founded his own direct-marketing firm. His father's firm created photographs of the latest electronic gadgets to be sent with credit card bills. He attended Horace Greeley High School in Chappaqua, New York from 1977 until 1981 and was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science from Utica College, Utica, New York in 1986.
He was nicknamed "Android" by his co-workers at Apple in 1989 due to a love of robots, with the nickname eventually becoming the official name of the Android operating system.
After Android was acquired by Google in 2005, Rubin became the company's senior vice president of mobile and digital content, where he oversaw development of Android, an open-source operating system for smartphones. On March 13, 2013, Larry Page announced in a blog post that Rubin had moved from the Android division to take on new projects at Google, with Sundar Pichai taking over Android. In December 2013, Rubin started management of the robotics division of Google (which includes companies bought by Google, such as Boston Dynamics). On October 31, 2014, he left Google after nine years at the company to start an incubator for hardware startups.
While the departure was presented to the media as an amicable one where Rubin would spend more time on philanthropy and start-ups, according to media reports in 2017 and 2018, CEO Larry Page personally asked for Rubin's resignation after a sexual harassment claim against Rubin was found to be credible. Rubin disputed these reports and denied wrongdoing. The incident, among others, led to the 2018 Google walkouts from Google's employee workforce over Rubin reportedly receiving a $90 million "exit package" to expedite his separation from the company. Google responded by sending a memo to employees saying no employees dismissed due to sexual harassment concerns after 2016 had received payouts.
Playground Global is a tech incubator that provides resources, mentorship and funding to startups making hardware devices, specifically to help make advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI). Rubin founded the company in 2015 along with Peter Barrett, Matt Hershenson and Bruce Leak. Playground Global has raised a $300 million fund from investors including Google, HP, Foxconn, Redpoint Ventures, Seagate Technology and Tencent, among others. It has invested in several companies, including Owl Labs.
Rubin eventually joined and helped create the Android phone start-up Essential Products. In November 2017, he took a leave of absence from Essential Products after reports of the inappropriate relationship from his time at Google surfaced. In December 2017, he returned to Essential Products.
Rubin and his ex-wife, Rie Rubin, owned and operated Voyageur du Temps, a bakery and cafe in Los Altos, California, which closed in September 2018.
- Carl Zeiss AG, robotics engineer, 1986–1989.
- Apple Inc., manufacturing engineer, 1989–1992.
- General Magic, engineer, 1992–1995. An Apple spin-off where he participated in developing Magic Cap, an operating system and interface for hand-held mobile devices.
- MSN TV, engineer, 1995–1999. When Magic Cap failed, Rubin joined Artemis Research, founded by Steve Perlman, which became WebTV and was eventually acquired by Microsoft.
- Danger Inc., co-founder, 1999–2003. Founded with Matt Hershenson and Joe Britt. The firm is most notable for the Danger Hiptop, branded for T-Mobile as the Sidekick, which is a phone with PDA-like abilities. The firm was later acquired by Microsoft in February 2008.
- Android Inc., co-founder 2003–2005. Android was acquired by Google in 2005.
- Google, 2005–2014: Senior Vice President in charge of Android for most of his tenure. Since December 2013, managing the robotics division of Google (which includes companies bought by Google, such as Boston Dynamics).
- Playground Global, 2014– present: Founder. This ventures focuses on artificial intelligence and it is creating new generations of hardware.
- Redpoint Ventures, 2015– present: Partner.
- Essential Products, 2015– present: Founder and lead. Rubin launched the Essential phone through this company in late June 2017.