Andy Rubin

Senior director of mobile platforms (Android)

[Background: Entrepreneur-in-residence at Redpoint Ventures; co-founder, president and CEO of Danger Inc., where he helped develop the Sidekick; helped create WebTV and the Motorola Envoy, one of the first wireless PDAs; also worked at Apple and Carl Zeiss A.G.]



One of the things that surprised me was the heated toilet seats. That’s a very big surprise when you first sit down. Or I could make a joke about how I ate all the food and gained 15 pounds after joining Google. Actually, it was more than that. I’m still working on it.

But seriously, when the company I cofounded was acquired by Google, I expected a process for everything, and that just isn’t the case. What’s the travel policy? Just don’t overspend. Use your best judgment. Commonsense stuff. There are not a lot of rules and regulations.


I’m working on a longer, large-scale project that requires infrastructure to produce an innovative product. Quality assurance, documentation, marketing, user experience – they’re not in silos. The teams work together to produce the product. It’s an amazing process, like a self-contained small company. There’s a lot of autonomy. Google makes sure it hires the best talent and once they’re in the same room they trust them to make the right decisions.



I’ve worked for big and small companies, a pretty broad spectrum. Some organizations have specific innovators. Elsewhere, innovation comes from the top down. In both cases, it’s incremental. At Google, it’s bottom-up. If you have an idea, you can put together a prototype, build excitement, and ship it within a short period of time. Agility is one of our strengths.


We’re building an open-source platform for mobile phones called Android. The strategy is to provide Web-style innovation and rapid development on the cell phone, which we think is still in prehistoric times. We want to deliver thousands of applications to your phone. If you have people developing applications at home, one of them will create the next Facebook. That’s the idea behind our mobile mashups. Third-party developers get data from one site and overlay it on something like a Google map. Development isn’t limited to what one company provides. It’s like having a Wal-Mart to shop in. And new features are being added so quickly. It’s just an awesome way to develop.


Google can’t do everything. And we shouldn’t. That’s why we formed the Open Handset Alliance with more than 34 partners. Throwing software over the wall isn’t going to work. You need handsets based on this software and carriers willing to ship them. I expected FUD: fear, uncertainty, and doubt. But we’ve seen some key competitors following us. So we know we’re doing something right.

About the author

Chuck Salter is a senior editor at Fast Company and a longtime award-winning feature writer for the magazine. In addition to his print, online and video stories, he performs live reported narratives at various conferences, and he edited the Fast Company anthologies Breakthrough Leadership, Hacking Hollywood, and #Unplug.