The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Android cofounder Andy Rubin is leaving Google to launch a hardware startup incubator. Rubin had recently been tapped to head up a top-secret robotics division at Google.
Rubin had been with Google since the company acquired Android in 2005, but last year Rubin moved from the Android team to this new robotics role. He oversaw Google's buying spree of various robotics companies, including Boston Dynamics, which is a huge military contractor. Before Google, Rubin co-founded Danger, which made the famous T-Mobile Sidekick. The Sidekick platform was abandoned in 2010.
James Kuffner, a research scientist in the division, will take over Rubin's job.
Whatever the reason for the split, it seems to be amicable, at least according to this statement from Google CEO Larry Page: "I want to wish Andy all the best with what's next. With Android he created something truly remarkable—with a billion plus happy users. Thank you."
Google confirmed the Journal's story, but didn't provide further details.
Andy Rubin has left Google. Rubin was heading Google's robotic division but has now left the company to start his own incubator for hardware startups. He will be replaced by James Kuffner.
Andy Rubin is the co-founder and ex-CEO or Danger Inc. and Android Inc. He oversaw the development of Android until March 2013, when Sundar Pichai took over and Rubin went on to manage Google's robotics division.
Andy Rubin, the Google executive responsible for the creation of Android is out of the company, the Wall Street Journal is reporting.
All we have right now is the following tweet, but this is a stunning bit of news.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Andy Rubin, the founder and former head of Android, is leaving Google. The report states that Rubin will be starting "an incubator for hardware startups."
GOOGLE ROBOTS! FORMER ANDROID CHIEF WILL LEAD GOOGLE ROBOTICS DIVISION
Google's long-time hobby will now be led by Andy Rubin, the founder of Android.
The move shouldn't affect Android. Rubin left the mobile division in March of 2013, handing the reins over to Sundar Pichai. Pichai has turned into Larry Page's right-hand man and now controls just about every Google product.
For the last year and a half, Rubin has been running Google's mysterious robotics division. We've seen the company gobble up several high-profile robotics companies, including Boston Dynamics and SCHAFT, the winner of the DARPA Robotics Challenge. With Rubin out, James Kuffner will take over the division.
“Larry enabled the robotic effort to run exactly the way I wanted it to, and we made great progress in our first year,” Rubin told The Wall Street Journal.
Larry Page also released a statement, saying, "I want to wish Andy all the best with what's next. With Android, he created something truly remarkable—with a billion plus happy users. Thank you.”
Just about a year ago we learned Andy Rubin had shifted his focus at Google from Android ("the definition of open") to working with robots, like the ones from its acquisition Boston Dynamics, but tonight reports indicate he is leaving the company entirely. The Information and the Wall Street Journal reported the departure initially, which Google has confirmed. In a statement, CEO Larry Page said "I want to wish Andy all the best with what's next. With Android he created something truly remarkable-with a billion plus happy users. Thank you." The Information reports his departure is the result of some issue with the structure of his team, and that Google research scientist James Kuffner will take over his role directing robotics projects.
Early in 2013 Rubin handed over direction of Android to Sundar Pichai, who recently assumed an even more powerful role at the company. Prior to co-founding Android and eventually selling it to Google, Rubin co-founded Danger Inc. (releasing the Danger Hiptop aka T-Mobile Sidekick), and even worked for both Apple and Carl Zeiss. So what's next for Rubin? Apparently creating an incubator for startups building hardware. That's just vague enough to be incredibly interesting, but for now we'll think back to the good old days and some of the first live Android demos.
Andy Rubin , co-founder and former leader of Google Inc. ’s Android mobile business and the current head of its nascent robotics effort, is leaving the Internet giant, the company said Thursday.
Mr. Rubin is starting an incubator for startups interested in building technology hardware products.
A Google spokesman said the company remains committed to robotics and will continue investing in the sector.
James Kuffner, a research scientist at Google and a member of the robotics group, will replace Mr. Rubin as head of the unit.
Google acquired Android in 2005 and Mr. Rubin helped build it into the world’s most-popular mobile operating system. He switched from that role to lead a series of robotics acquisitions for Google in 2013.
“I want to wish Andy all the best with what’s next,” Google CEO Larry Page said in a statement. “With Android he created something truly remarkable— with a billion-plus happy users. Thank you.”
Mr. Rubin provided crucial leadership and vision that helped Google keep up with Apple Inc. as smartphones became the go-to computing device for most people around the world. He was known for keeping his Android team separate from the rest of the company and its employees for years. For a time, the Android group had its own lunchroom on the Google campus.
Mr. Rubin is an entrepreneurial spirit who likes to run his own show and was facing constraints on his activities at Google, a person familiar with the executive and Google said. A Google spokesman declined to comment on why Mr. Rubin left.
Mr. Rubin said he “didn’t really have any issues with independence” at Google and left because he wanted to do something new on his own.
“Larry enabled the robotic effort to run exactly the way I wanted it to, and we made great progress in our first year,” he wrote in an email to The Wall Street Journal.
Google executive Sundar Pichai took over Android from Mr. Rubin in early 2013. Mr. Pichai is considered a more open, collaborative executive more suited to the task of keeping Android’s various partners, including handset makers and wireless-network operators, in the fold.
Mr. Rubin has had a lifelong obsession with robots, and when he stepped down from Android, Mr. Page allowed him to pursue that dream. By late 2013, Mr. Rubin had overseen Google’s acquisitions of several robotics companies, including Boston Dynamics, Schaft and Meka Robotics.
Boston Dynamics is best known for its four-legged robot called BigDog which can carry heavy loads across uneven terrain and Atlas, a humanoid robot that was part of the robotics challenge run by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, part of the U.S. Department of Defense.
Japan-based Schaft developed a two-legged, five-foot, five-inch tall robot capable of climbing steep steps unaided. It won the last DARPA Robotics challenge in late 2013.
Google’s entrance into the robotics field has sparked widespread speculation about the company’s intentions for bringing more automation to industries including manufacturing and automobiles.
Mr. Rubin’s departure is a blow to Google’s robotics efforts. However, Mr. Kuffner is experienced in the sector, having worked on human-like robot technology for over two decades, including seven years at Carnegie Mellon University and five years on Google’s self-driving car project.
“It’s surprising and sounds pretty unplanned,” said Scott Strawn, an analyst at research firm IDC. “If it was voluntary on Mr. Rubin’s part, you would think he would see part of the robotics project through to completion to have something to show publicly before leaving.”