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Top Google exec David Drummond to retire months after scrutiny

David Drummond, a longtime Google executive who most recently served as chief legal officer for parent company Alphabet, is retiring at the end of this month, according to a filing on Friday.

His departure comes amid a broader changing of the guard in the top ranks at Alphabet and follows scrutiny of the conduct of multiple high-ranking men at the company, including Drummond.

Drummond was mentioned in an explosive 2018 New York Times investigation into how the company allegedly protected male executives, some of whom engaged in inappropriate relationships with subordinates.

In August of last year, former Google employee Jennifer Blakely published a Medium post expanding on allegations that she had a years-long affair with Drummond. According to the Times, the affair began when she worked in the legal department and reported to one of his deputies.

Drummond, Blakely wrote in the post, was “well aware” that the relationship violated a Google policy “discouraging” and later “outright banning” relationships with direct reports. They had a child together. Blakely says she was then moved to a new department for which she had “zero experience.” Drummond, by contrast, continued to climb up the company ladder.

Google declined to comment on Blakely’s account at the time. Drummond also did not respond to a request for comment. Buzzfeed obtained a statement from Drummond at the time that read, in part, “It’s not a secret that Jennifer and I had a difficult break-up 10 years ago. I am far from perfect and I regret my part in that.” He added: “There are two sides to all of the conversations and details Jennifer recounts, and I take a very different view about what happened.”

The allegations raised questions about whether Google prioritized protecting the powerful men at the top of the company over the women who were subordinate to them. In November, CNBC reported that Alphabet’s board had opened an investigation into the handling of misconduct claims, including the behavior of Drummond.

In response to those reports, an Alphabet spokesperson said at the time: “As has already been confirmed in public court filings, in early 2019, Alphabet’s Board of Directors formed a special litigation committee to consider claims made by shareholders in various lawsuits relating to past workplace conduct.”

Despite the scrutiny, Drummond remained in the top ranks of the company — until now.

In a note circulated internally to colleagues on Friday, and provided to CNN Business, Drummond framed his decision to retire as coming in response to Google’s two cofounders — Larry Page and Sergey Brin — recently stepping down as executives at Alphabet. Sundar Pichai, another longtime Google executive, is now CEO of both Google and Alphabet.

“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.”

Forbes was first to report on the news. Drummond will not be receiving an exit package, the company told CNN Business.

During his nearly two decades at Google, Drummond had a key role in multiple parts of the business. He served as the company’s first outside counsel before eventually rising to his role as senior vice president of corporate development as well as chief legal officer for Alphabet and Google. He also served as chairman of the company’s venture capital arms, and served on the board of one of its best-known investments, Uber.

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