John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Evil Is What Sergey Says Is Evil. So Is Nepotism.

evil_scale.jpg“Evil is what Sergey says is evil,” Google CEO Eric Schmidt once told Wired. So, too, are investment improprieties, or at least the appearance of them. Earlier this month, Google made a $3.9 million investment in 23andMe, an early-stage biotech company focused on helping consumers understand their genetic information. Not a surprise, really. Google’s involved itself in all sorts of projects in its quest to organize the world’s information.

What is surprising is 23andMe’s pedigree. It was established by Google co-founder Sergey Brin’s wife, Ann Wojcicki. More surprising still, $2.6 million of Google’s investment in 23andMe is essentially a repayment of a loan Brin made to the company as part of some interim debt financing.

Now, clearly this investment makes sense for Google, and Brin did recuse himself from all discussions of it. That said, friends-and-family transactions like these almost always spark charges of nepotism. Not a good thing for a closely scrutinized public company, especially one with an “evil scale.”


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work