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Google's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. Photo: Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images

It was a story that many saw coming, but was still shocking to read: After a year of reporting, the New York Times offered up a blistering report on how Google failed to take strong action against male executives it concluded had behaved improperly with women.

Why it matters: The story confirms a wide belief in Silicon Valley that Google is the Big Tech company with the most skeletons in its closet in this area, having been home to a number of workplace romances involving married executives.

Specifically, the Times reported that former Android boss Andy Rubin was praised and paid $90 million as part of an exit package even as an internal investigation had found credible a claim of "sexual misconduct" with a female employee with whom he was having an affair.

  • Of note: The Information reported last year that Rubin's departure followed allegations of impropriety, but the Times story goes into more detail and was first to report the large severance package.

Though the story focuses largely on Rubin, it also details other incidents at the company. These include various extramarital affairs that executives had with lower-ranking female employees and an incident in which a director propositioned a woman applying for a job.

What's most striking from the Times story is not just the specific misdeeds. It is Google's apparent willingness to seemingly condone such actions, either by continuing to employ those found to have committed wrongdoing or by allowing them to quietly exit, sometimes with a large severance package.

Google's response consisted largely of an email sent to its employees by CEO Sundar Pichai and HR exec Eileen Naughton. It steered clear of most of the charges in the Times piece, focusing on how the company is approaching things now.

"In recent years, we’ve made a number of changes, including taking an increasingly hard line on inappropriate conduct by people in positions of authority: in the last two years, 48 people have been terminated for sexual harassment, including 13 who were senior managers and above. None of these individuals received an exit package."
— Sundar Pichai and Eileen Naughton

Our thought bubble: It is true that Pichai has a different reputation from his predecessors and has struck a different tone than other Google executives. It's also true that many of the founders and several other high-ranking executives responsible for setting the culture (and some employees accused of misconduct) remain at Google or parent company Alphabet.

Meanwhile, Rubin posted a short, highly specific denial on Twitter late Thursday, rebutting certain allegations leveled in the Times' piece.

"The New York Times story contains numerous inaccuracies about my employment at Google and wild exaggerations about my compensation. Specifically, I never coerced a woman to have sex in a hotel room. These false allegations are part of a smear campaign to disparage me during a divorce and custody battle."
— Andy Rubin

Rubin did not return a request for further comment.

Go deeper

Broncos and 49ers the latest NFL teams impacted by coronavirus crisis

From left, Denver Broncos quarterbacks Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Jeff Driskel during an August training session at UCHealth Training Center in Englewood, Colorado. Photo: Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the NFL season into chaos, with the Denver Broncos' quarterbacks sidelined, the San Francisco 49ers left without a home or practice ground and much of the Baltimore Ravens team unavailable, per AP.

Driving the news: The Broncos confirmed in a statement Saturday night that quarterbacks Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles were identified as "high-risk COVID-19 close contacts" and will follow the NFL's mandatory five-day quarantine, making them ineligible for Sunday's game against New Orleans.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: McConnell temporarily halts in-person lunches for GOP caucus.
  3. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in DecemberAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  4. Education: U.S. public school enrollment drops as pandemic persists.
  5. Cities: Surge in cases forces San Francisco to impose curfew — Los Angeles County issues stay-at-home order, limits gatherings.
  6. Sports: NFL bans in-person team activities Monday, Tuesday due to COVID-19 surge — NBA announces new coronavirus protocols.
  7. World: London police arrest more than 150 during anti-lockdown protests — Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.

Tony Hsieh, longtime Zappos CEO, dies at 46

Tony Hsieh. Photo: FilmMagic/FilmMagic

Tony Hsieh, the longtime ex-chief executive of Zappos, died on Friday after being injured in a house fire, his lawyer told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He was 46.

The big picture: Hsieh was known for his unique approach to management, and following the 2008 recession his ongoing investment and efforts to revitalize the downtown Las Vegas area.