Alphabet’s Top Lawyer To Retire Following Questions On Conduct

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Written by Dana Sanchez
David Drummond
David Drummond, chief legal counsel for Alphabet, is leaving after the company investigated top executives for inappropriate relationships with female employees. Drummond, Senior VP of Google, addresses the 62nd World Newspaper Congress in Hyderabad, India, Dec. 3, 2009 file photo, (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A., file)

David Drummond, a Google veteran and chief legal counsel for Alphabet Inc., is leaving the company with no exit package following an investigation of top executives for alleged inappropriate relationships with female employees.

Drummond’s last day is Jan. 31, according to a note he sent colleagues on Friday that was seen by Bloomberg. An Alphabet spokeswoman confirmed that Drummond did not receive a pay package on exit, and the company has not named a replacement.

However, Drummond, 56, recently sold $77 million worth of stock, including all his remaining Class A shares, according to SEC filings released on Jan. 2.

It’s the third straight month for Drummond dumping a significant amount of stock, CNBC reported. He sold more than $70 million of stock in November and again in December, right before Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin announced that they too were leaving the company.

Alphabet’s board has been investigating how misconduct is handled. The company has been accused of fostering a culture where powerful men can have inappropriate relationships and get away with sexual misconduct. Thousands of Google employees protested in November 2018 after a report that Andy Rubin, a former executive, received a $90 million pay package after alleged sexual harassment. Rubin denied the allegations, according to Bloomberg.

Jennifer Blakely, a former senior contract manager in Google’s legal department, told her #MeToo story in August about her years-long affair with David Drummond when he was general counsel. She was his direct subordinate. Blakely told part of her story to the New York Times in 2018.

The affair was consensual, Blakely said. It began in 2004. In 2007, Blakely and Drummond lived together and had a child. Drummond used his position of power to have an affair with her that turned abusive and he had other affairs in a work environment where blatant womanizing and philandering were tolerated, Blakely said.

Drummond broke up with Blakely via text message, saying, “Don’t expect me back. I’m never coming back,” she wrote. She accused him of refusing to pay child support. There was a custody battle. Blakely won.

In his note to colleagues, Drummond said, “I believe that it’s the right time for me to make way for the next generation of leaders.”

Drummond met Page and Brin while working as a partner at a San Francisco Bay Area law firm. He was initially hired to legally incorporate their company and help them find funding.

Dummond was central in landmark decisions at the company including the exit from China in 2010 and the right-to-be-forgotten dispute in Europe. He oversaw key acquisitions, such as Android and YouTube, and helped set up Alphabet’s venture capital arms. Since 2015, Drummond has overseen GV and CapitalG, and Jigsaw, a political research division.

Alphabet provided Drummond’s note to Bloomberg. Here’s the note in full:

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“More than 20 years ago, Larry Page and Sergey Brin first asked me to help them with their unincorporated startup. Of course, that startup would grow to include more than 100,000 employees and make a positive impact on the lives of people around the world. From the beginning, I felt privileged to work with Larry and Sergey to realize their commitment to making information more universally accessible and useful, and was thrilled to join Google full-time in 2002.

“With Larry and Sergey now leaving their executive roles at Alphabet, the company is entering an exciting new phase, and I believe that it’s also the right time for me to make way for the next generation of leaders. As a result, after careful consideration, I have decided to retire at the end of this month.

“As I do so, I’d like to thank everyone with whom I’ve had the privilege to work so closely over the past two decades. Whether we were fighting alongside others around the globe to protect and expand freedom of expression; pressing to make sure copyright law continued to foster openness and creativity; designing an unconventional but dynamic corporate structure that has served Google so well; putting together industry-changing acquisitions that served as the foundation for some of Google’s most popular products; creating and evolving the rules that protect our users; or establishing start-up models to help unleash the potential of our amazing Other Bets: I have always relished the opportunity to work with such talented colleagues.

“In particular, I have loved building and being a part of the legal team: your dedication, drive and leadership in helping digital innovation flourish has been amazing to behold. I have also been energized and deeply impressed by my time with the corporate development, public policy, trust and safety and communications teams, as well as the folks at GV, Capital G and Jigsaw. These groups’ relentless creativity and herculean efforts to further Google’s ambitious mission have been beyond inspiring. I’d also like to thank BGN and all of the company’s employee resource groups, whose tireless efforts continue to make the company better.

“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. But, as I move on, I’d like to thank Larry and Sergey and each and every one of you for providing me with the most engaging, challenging and rewarding professional environment that anyone could hope for. I am deeply grateful.”