Android Co-Founder Rubin Leaving Google to Form IncubatorBrian Womack
Google Inc.’s Andy Rubin, who oversaw development of the Android software used in more than 70 percent of the world’s smartphones, is leaving the company.
Rubin, 51, is departing to form an incubator focusing on hardware technology, Mountain View, California-based Google said yesterday. Rubin was working on robotics at Google after stepping down in March 2013 from his position running Android. The robotics initiative will now be headed up by James Kuffner, a research scientist, Google said.
“I want to wish Andy all the best with what’s next,” Chief Executive Officer Larry Page wrote in an e-mailed statement. “With Android he created something truly remarkable.”
After joining Google in 2005, when the Web-search provider bought his startup Android Inc., Rubin was instrumental in turning Android into a major competitor against Apple Inc.’s iPhones. Rubin joins a list of several high-profile departures from Google this year, including Vic Gundotra, who led the company’s social-networking efforts, and Nikesh Arora, who had been chief business officer. Last week Page gave top lieutenant Sundar Pichai most of the product leadership at the company, freeing up the CEO to focus on long-term strategy.
“Android has obviously been huge for Google,” said Greg Sterling, vice president of strategy and insights at Local Search Association, a trade group. “Rubin himself is no longer as important to Google, and so while his departure may been seen by some as a loss, it’s not truly one at this point. At an earlier time, when Rubin was running Android and when Android was less dominant, that might have been the case.”
Rubin didn’t respond to an e-mail message seeking comment.
Known for being independent, Rubin was passionate about driving Android’s growth while keeping the platform neutral so software and hardware designers could integrate easily with the operating system. The partnerships gave hardware companies such as Samsung Electronics Co. a foothold in the mobile market as consumers increasingly turned to smartphones to access digital services.
Rubin was among seven managers promoted to senior executive positions in April 2011, not long after Page became CEO. When Rubin started his robotics work at the company, Page was enthusiastic about the effort. The company acquired seven companies at the time to help the initiative.
Kuffner, who is taking over the robotics effort, is an adjunct associate professor at the Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, according to a post on Google’s website.
(An earlier version of the story corrected the year that Rubin stepped down from Android.)
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