Love triangle? Just Google it. Silicon Valley’s golden couple Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki announce separation
Then there’s the awkward matter of the $10m the search giant put into 23andMe
Tim Walker is The Independent’s Los Angeles correspondent, covering entertainment and other concerns from the West Coast of the US. He was previously a features writer and the editor of the paper’s diary column. His first novel, Completion, is being published in January 2014.
Friday 30 August 2013
It appears Silicon Valley’s power couples are no more immune to marital strife than their Hollywood counterparts. Google’s co-founder, Sergey Brin, and his wife of six years, Anne Wojcicki, have separated, and he is said to have struck up a relationship with an employee at the Silicon Valley search giant.
The couple, both 40, were married in 2007 and have two young children. According to the tech blog AllThingsD, which first reported the split, they have been living apart for several months. A spokesperson said the situation was amicable, and that the couple “remain good friends and partners”.
Forbes puts Mr Brin’s personal fortune at some $24bn (£27bn); he also holds almost $21bn in Google shares, and splits majority-voting control of the firm with his co-founder and Google chief executive, Larry Page. Yet thanks to a pre-nuptial agreement, Mr Brin’s prospective divorce would have no material effect on his company. It might prove somewhat more awkward for Ms Wojcicki’s own venture. Google invested around $10m in 23andMe, the company she co-founded in 2006, which offers DIY genetic tests to consumers to reveal their ancestry and medical profile, warning them of potential hereditary health issues they might encounter.
The Wojcicki family was involved in Google’s development from the beginning. After Mr Brin and Mr Page first scored seed funding for their embryonic search engine in 2008, they established their first headquarters in the Silicon Valley garage of Susan Wojcicki, Anne’s elder sister, who is now the company’s senior vice-president of ads and commerce, and its highest-ranking female employee.
Mr Brin and his wife have several joint interests besides Google and 23andMe. In 2012, the philanthropic pair donated $223m to charity, much of it via their own Brin Wojcicki Foundation, which supports a range of good causes both internationally and in the Bay Area. The couple have also bought and redeveloped several properties close to their home in Los Altos, California. The spokesperson said they would continue to maintain those projects together.
Recently, Mr Brin has spent the majority of his time at Google overseeing its secretive innovation department, Google X, which has generated a number of novel product prototypes including a self-driving car; Project Loon, which aims to bring the internet to remote areas using Wi-Fi transmitting balloons; and Google Glass, the company’s high-profile, high-tech spectacles.
Mr Brin has championed the wearable tech device and is now rarely seen in public without it. His rumoured new girlfriend, meanwhile, is 26-year-old Amanda Rosenberg, a Google Glass marketing manager. Ms Rosenberg recently revealed in a post on her Google Plus account that she was responsible for coining the phrase, “OK Glass”, which users of Glass intone in order to activate the device. Among the other phrases considered for the task were “Go go Glass” and “Glass alive!”
There is no suggestion that the pair became an item before Mr Brin’s separation from Ms Wojcicki. Ms Rosenberg is also said to have been in a previous relationship with another senior Google executive, Hugo Barra, the search giant’s vice-president of product management for its Android mobile operating system. Mr Barra announced this week that he was leaving Google for the booming Chinese phone manufacturer Xiaomi, which has been described as “the Apple of China”. His exit is not thought to be related to any romantic entanglements.
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