Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Google Co-Founder Sergey Brin and 23andMe Co-Founder Anne Wojcicki Have Split

Brin and Wojcicki on Gavin Newsom's interview show in 2012.

Brin and Wojcicki on Gavin Newsom’s interview show in 2012.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin and 23andMe co-founder Anne Wojcicki, one of Silicon Valley’s most high-profile couples, are living apart.

A spokesman for Brin and Wojcicki confirmed that “they have been living apart for several months. They remain good friends and partners.”

Brin and Wojcicki, both 40 years old, had been married for six years and have two children. They are not yet legally separated.

The possibility of a reconciliation of the pair is unclear, since Brin has become romantically involved with a Google employee, according to sources. This is further complicated by the fact that that employee had also at one point been involved with another Googler.

While this is obviously sad and very personal news, it also has many business implications.

While many might assume that the split potentially affects Google — where Brin shares majority voting control of the company with his co-founder and CEO Larry Page — that is apparently not the case.

Sources with knowledge of the situation said that Brin and Wojcicki have a prenuptial agreement, and that there would be no material impact on Google if Brin and Wojcicki were to eventually divorce.

Brin is currently worth $22.8 billion, according to Forbes. He holds nearly $21 billion worth of Google shares, the majority of which are Class B stock, which have more voting power. Brin and Page are working to institute a plan to issue a new kind of Google stock, so they can sell more shares without surrendering control.

Brin and Wojcicki have many other well-known joint business efforts.

They include Wojcicki’s personal-genomics startup 23andMe, which sells DNA test kits and helps users interpret their traits and health conditions. The company has raised more than $100 million from backers, including Google, Google Ventures and Brin himself.

According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Wojcicki and Brin gave away $223 million in 2012, the fifth-most for donors in the U.S., and they each contributed $190.1 million to their Brin Wojcicki Foundation.

The foundation’s beneficiaries include the Wikimedia Foundation (Wikipedia), the Ashoka Foundation (social entrepreneurship), the Tipping Point Community (poverty in the Bay Area) and the Parkinson’s Institute.

Brin and Wojcicki also lead a new organization with Russian investor Yuri Milner, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan and Art Levinson, called the Breakthrough Prize Foundation, that awards $15 million per year to life scientists.

They have also given tens of millions of dollars to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. And their Passarelle Investments actively buys and renovates property in downtown Los Altos, Calif., which is near Google headquarters and their family home.

A spokesman said Brin and Wojcicki would continue to work on all these endeavors together.

There are other Google-related complications: Wojcicki’s sister, Susan, continues to be one of the top executives at Google, where she is SVP of advertising and commerce. Google’s first headquarters in its key formative days was located in her garage, and she was one of the first hires by Brin and Page.

Susan Wojcicki is not directly supervised by Brin. He is not in charge of day-to-day operations of Google, although he remains a close adviser to CEO Page.

Instead, over the past few years, Brin has devoted himself to Google[x], the division of the company dedicated to “moon shot” experiments such as driverless cars, Project Glass (wearable computers) and Project Loon (Internet access delivered by high-altitude balloons).

Kara Swisher also did reporting for this article. You can see her disclosure related to Google here.

(AllThingsD has disabled comments for this post.)


Latest Video

View all videos »

Search »

Nobody was excited about paying top dollar for a movie about WikiLeaks. A film about the origins of Pets.com would have done better.

— Gitesh Pandya of BoxOfficeGuru.com comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”