The career rise and controversy of David Drummond, Alphabet's chief lawyer whose extramarital relationship with a former employee reignited criticism of Google's culture (GOOG, GOOGL)

David Drummond

  • David Drummond has been called “the world’s luckiest lawyer.”
  • That’s because while working as a partner at a Bay Area law firm, Drummond was introduced to two Stanford grad students named Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who later came up with the idea for Google.
  • Today, Drummond serves as senior VP of corporate development and chief legal officer of Alphabet, Google’s parent company.
  • But Drummond recently found himself in the news for all the wrong reasons: It was reported that Drummond had a child with a Google employee and emotionally abused her, leading many to criticize  the company’s culture.
  • Below is a glimpse into the life and career of David Drummond. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

David Drummond has been called “the world’s luckiest lawyer.” 

That’s because while working as a partner at a Bay Area law firm, Drummond was introduced to two Stanford grad students named Larry Page and Sergey Brin who had a big idea. He was ultimately hired to legally incorporate Google and help the cofounders find funding. 

By 2002, Drummond would officially join Google, and, as its top lawyer, help it go public in 2004. Today, Drummond serves as senior VP of corporate development and chief legal officer of Alphabet, Google’s parent company.

Read more: An ex-Googler says the company’s top lawyer had a child with her while he was married and then cut her off as part of a toxic culture she says protects ‘elite men’

But Drummond recently found himself in the news for all the wrong reasons: It was reported that Drummond had a child with a Google employee and emotionally abused her. With other high-profile Google executives having recently been accused of sexual misconduct, the company’s culture is now under the microscope, reigniting criticism of how the behavior of the company’s leadership is handled.

Drummond released a personal statement on Thursday, saying that he is “far from perfect” but that there “two sides” to the story. 

Here’s a glimpse into the life and career of David Drummond, one of Alphabet’s most senior executives: 

SEE ALSO: The career rise of Susan Wojcicki, who rented her garage to Google’s founders in 1998 and is now the CEO of YouTube

David Drummond, 56, was born in Carmel, California.

Source: CNBC

Drummond attended Santa Clara University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in history.

Source: CNBC

While attending Santa Clara, Drummond also played wide receiver for the university’s football team. In 1985, he was inducted into the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame for scholar-athletes.

Source: National Football Foundation

Drummond went on to earn his law degree from Stanford Law School.

Source: CNBC

After school, by 1998, Drummond had become a partner at the technology-focused law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. There, he was assigned to work with two young startup cofounders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

Source: Time

Drummond became Google’s first outside counsel, helping Page and Brin legally incorporate their startup company and secure their initial venture funding.

Some would refer to Drummond as “the world’s luckiest lawyer” for getting assigned to work with Google in its early days. 

Sources: OZY and Time 

By 2002, Drummond would officially join Google as its vice president of corporate development. He would soon also become Google’s top lawyer, with the title of general counsel.

Source: Crunchbase

In 2005, Drummond would find himself in hot water when the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) found Google had failed to register more than $80 million of employee stock option grants before its IPO the year prior.

The SEC commission found that Drummond was aware of the obligations, but thought that Google would be exempt from the law. It was also found that he failed to notify Google’s board of the risks of his decision. Google and Drummond were not fined by the SEC, but agreed to cease and desist from future securities laws violations.

Sources: SEC and AdAge

During his tenure at Google, Drummond would lead global teams in charge of legal, public policy, communications, mergers and acquisitions, and product quality operations.

Source: CapitalG 

When Google restructured in 2015 and its parent company, Alphabet, was formed, Drummond would become the senior vice president of corporate development and chief legal officer of the newly-constructed parent company.

Source: Market Screener

Drummond has also served as chairman for both of Alphabet’s investment arms, GV and Capital G. It is not clear whether he still holds these positions.

Source: Capital G

What we do know is that he helped GV win at least one major deal: In 2013, he helped lead its $250 million investment into Uber. Drummond would join Uber’s board that same year, though he stepped down in 2016 citing conflicts of interest with Alphabet’s growing self-driving car ambitions.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

In November 2017, it was reported that Drummond had an extramarital relationship with a paralegal on his team named Jennifer Blakely. The two had a son together in 2007.

Source: The Information

Almost one year later, in October 2018, The New York Times released a bombshell report providing more details into Drummond’s relationship with Blakely and her subsequent departure from Google.

Specifically, Blakely claimed that because Google discouraged managers from having relationships with subordinates, she was encouraged by HR to transfer teams. 

“One of us would have to leave the legal department,” Blakely told the New York Times. “It was clear it would not be David.”

As Drummond would continue to rise the ranks at Google, Blakely left the company in 2007. 

“Google felt like I was the liability,” she said. 

That same New York Times report would help spark a worldwide company walkout in which 20,000 employees protested Google’s history of giving multimillion-dollar payouts to departing executives accused of abusing their power and sexual harassment. 

Source: The New York Times

This week, Jennifer Blakely published a personal account detailing her relationship with Drummond, alleging that after the two separated in 2008, the legal chief would go long periods without checking in on their son and abused her emotionally.

“If I objected to his terms, if I didn’t ‘play ball,’ he would punish me by punishing our son,” Blakely wrote. “Months or years would go by where he wouldn’t see him or respond to my calls or texts with updates and pictures of him or even ask how he was doing.”

The former Googler also provided a scathing critique of what she called an “oppressive and entitled” company culture that protects the company’s “elite men.”

“The abuse of power didn’t stop with being pushed out,” she wrote, referring to leaving her job at Google. “Afterwards I was pushed down, lest I got in the way of the behavior that had become even more oppressive and entitled.”

Source: Medium

One day later, Drummond issued a personal statement, in which he said he is “far from perfect” but refuted some of Blakely’s claims.

Specifically, Drummond said that besides Blakely, he was never “started” a “relationship” with anyone else at Google or Alphabet. By Blakely’s account, however, Drummond had multiple relationships with other female colleagues at Google. 

Drummond said there are “two sides” to the story. 

Google has refused to comment on the matter to Business Insider and declined to make Drummond available for an interview.

Source: BuzzFeed News and Medium

Drummond remains one of Alphabet and Google’s highest paid execs. In fact, in 2018, he was the second highest paid executive, earning $47 million — most of which came from stock option packages.

Source: Business Insider