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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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald