High profile Indian American executive Amit Singhal has left his job at Uber as its SVP of engineering after the company came to know that he had faced allegations of sexual harassment from an employee at Google where he worked earlier.
Recode reported that Singhal had not informed Uber about the past allegations, that an internal investigation had found “credible.”
Singhal was asked to resign by Uber CEO Travis Kalanick Tuesday morning. Singhal had resigned from Google a year ago.
Uber executives found out about the situation after Recode informed them of the chain of events between Singhal and the search giant this week.
Sources at Uber said that the company did extensive background checks of Singhal and that it did not uncover any hint of the circumstances of his departure from Google. Singhal disputed the allegation to Google execs at the time.
In a statement, Singhal denied the allegation again, although he did acknowledge the dispute with Google.
“Harassment is unacceptable in any setting. I certainly want everyone to know that I do not condone and have not committed such behavior,” he wrote to me in an email. “In my 20-year career, I’ve never been accused of anything like this before and the decision to leave Google was my own.”
The Independent reported last week Uber launched what it described as an “urgent investigation” into workplace practices after a former employee published a damning blog detailing sexual harassment and discrimination she allegedly suffered while working for the company.
Susan Fowler, who left her job as an engineer at Uber in December, wrote in a personal blog post published on Sunday that she had suffered “sexual harassment”, witnessed “political games” and received “threats” from her manager after reporting incidents to the company’s human resources department.
Singhal’s dispute with Google has nothing to do with that situation or the recent lawsuit that Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has waged against Uber’s Otto division, noted Recode.
But having Singhal at the head of an organization under siege over sexual harassment issues when he was not candid
Sources said that Google was prepared to fire Singhal over the allegations after looking into the incident, but that it did not have to do so after he resigned.
Sources said the female employee who filed the formal complaint against Singhal did not work for him directly, but worked closely with the search team. She also did not want to go public with the charges, which is apparently why Google decided to allow Singhal to leave quietly.
Singhal, who was born in Jhansi, in India, attended the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Roorkee. Later, he attended graduate school at the University of Minnesota Duluth to pursue a master’s program in computer science. He then joined Cornell’s Computer Science department to pursue a Ph.D in Information Retrieval.
At Cornell, Singhal studied under Gerard Salton, a professor of computer science who some describe as the father of digital search. After he got his Ph.D, he joined AT&T Labs, where he worked on projects like SCAN, which combined speech recognition, information retrieval, and user interface technologies, noted Quartz.
But Singhal lasted only about four years in the job, eventually moving to Google in 2000, at the insistence of his friend Krishna Bharat, an IIT-Madras alumnus who went on to develop Google News. Coming on-board only two years after Google was founded, Singhal got to work on rewriting the algorithms that founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin had developed. As Nicholas Carlson describes in his 2015 book, Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo!: