Amitabh Kumar Singhal spent a childhood obsessed with Star Trek. On his parents’ black-and-white TV, Singhal would compulsively watch reruns of the science-fiction franchise and dream of building starship computers that could answer questions instantly. It was a bit of a long shot for a kid born in Jhansi and growing up in the foothills of the Himalayas in the 1970s.
But Amit Singhal, as he’s better known, pulled it off. By 2000, he found himself helping re-engineer the algorithms at the heart of Google’s all-powerful search engine. Google’s employee number 176 spent a decade-and-a-half at the company before leaving in February last year.
In a Feb. 03, 2016 post publicly announcing his exit, he wrote:
My life has been a dream journey. From a little boy growing up in the Himalayas dreaming of the Star Trek computer, to an immigrant who came to the United States with two suitcases and not much else, to the person responsible for Search at Google, every turn has enriched me and made me a better person.
But now, that dream is unravelling.
On Feb. 27, Recode reported that Singhal, who joined Uber in January 2017 as senior vice president of engineering, had been asked to leave. The reason: He reportedly failed to disclose to Uber a “credible” sexual harassment allegation made against him while at Google. This charge may have been the reason he left Google, according to Recode.
It’s been a tough few days for Uber, which has been battling charges of sexism and sexual harassment after Susan Fowler, a former engineer at the ride-hailing company, published a scathing blogpost on Feb. 19.
Brought in to head Uber’s maps and marketplaces divisions, Singhal has denied the allegation. “I certainly want everyone to know that I do not condone and have not committed such behavior,” he said in a statement. “In my 20-year career, I’ve never been accused of anything like this before and the decision to leave Google was my own.”