Uber software head leaves over a past sexual harassment allegation

Uber Technologies Amit Singhal resigned after the company learned of a sexual harassment allegation from his previous job at Google.

The officer stepped down just a month after joining Uber as senior vice president of engineering, where he oversaw software development, the company said. After he started on Jan. 20, Uber became aware of an investigation at Google into a sexual harassment allegation that Singhal didn’t disclose and that wasn’t discovered during the hiring process, said people familiar with the matter.

Singhal denied the allegation on Monday.

“Harassment is unacceptable in any setting,” he said in an e-mailed statement. “I certainly want everyone to know that I do not condone and have not committed such behaviour. In my 20-year career, I’ve never been accused of anything like this before, and the decision to leave Google was my own.”

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Travis Kalanick, Uber’s chief executive officer, asked for Singhal’s resignation. Uber declined to comment further. Google also declined to comment.

Singhal was head of search technology at Alphabet Inc.’s Google, a high-profile role running development of one of the world’s most profitable products. He left last year after 15 years with the company. At the time, Google said Singhal was retiring. In meetings with Google’s CEO and head of human resources in late 2015, Singhal disputed a sexual harassment complaint made by a female employee, according to Recode, which reported Singhal’s departure earlier Monday.

The matter surfaced as Uber tries to deal with its own sexual harassment crisis. Susan Fowler, a former Uber software engineer, penned a devastating blog post on Feb. 19 alleging that, among other things, she’d been propositioned by her manager and that the company had protected him because he was a “high performer.” Uber hired the former U.S. attorney general Eric Holder to help conduct an investigation, and Kalanick held a tense all-hands meeting in which he teared up and apologized to the company for its lack of diversity and poor response.

Uber hired Singhal amid a deepening rivalry with Google’s parent company over self-driving cars, mapping data and ride-hailing software. Uber recruited Brian McClendon from Google in 2015 to work on maps and last year acquired Otto, an autonomous trucking startup founded by former Google employees. Alphabet Chief Legal Officer David Drummond stepped down from Uber’s board of directors last year, though the company’s venture capital arm GV remains a shareholder. Last week, Alphabet’s Waymo sued Uber claiming a former employee stole secret designs and technology to start Otto. Uber called the allegations “baseless.”

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