Google Inc. co-founder Sergey Brin has separated from his wife, biotech entrepreneur Anne Wojcicki, in a low-key split for one of Silicon Valley's highest-profile couples.
Google Inc. co-founder Sergey Brin has separated from his wife, biotech entrepreneur Anne Wojcicki, in a low-key split for one of Silicon Valley’s highest-profile couples.
Brin is one of the world’s wealthiest men and, with Google co-founder Larry Page, one of two controlling shareholders in the giant Internet company. Brin and Wojcicki, both 40, are highly influential figures in the tech industry and also rank among the valley’s biggest donors to charity.
Their separation was not widely known until Wednesday, when a spokesperson for the couple confirmed to the San Jose Mercury News: “Anne and Sergey have been living apart for several months. They remain good friends and partners.” The couple has two children and until recently lived in Los Altos Hills, Calif.
While neither has filed for divorce, the tech blog All Things D, which first revealed the separation, also reported that unnamed sources said Brin is romantically involved with an unidentified Google employee.
Although Brin is the second-largest shareholder at Google, after Page, sources said the separation may not affect the company’s financial standing because of a pre-nuptial agreement that Brin and Wojcicki signed before they married in 2007 — at a low-profile ceremony in the Bahamas where both bride and groom reportedly wore swimsuits.
Their split could potentially cause strains at the company, however, since Wojcicki’s sister, Susan Wojcicki, is a longtime Google employee who now holds a top leadership position as senior vice president for advertising and commerce. Susan Wojcicki rented part of her Menlo Park, Calif., home to Brin and Page when they first started Google, and according to Silicon Valley legend, she later introduced Brin to her sister Anne.
A Google spokesman did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
Anne Wojcicki is co-founder and CEO of a biotech startup, 23andMe, which sells personal DNA test kits and provides reports on individuals’ genetic make-up, traits and health conditions. Brin and Google are among the company’s major financial backers. A spokeswoman for 23andMe declined to comment Wednesday.
Brin, meanwhile, has left most of the executive responsibilities at Google to his longtime friend and co-founder, Page. But he is an extremely influential figure in the company, often vetting new projects and overseeing Google X, the division responsible for some of Google’s most high-profile “moonshot” efforts, including its self-driving cars and the wearable computer known as Glass.
Like Page, Brin draws only $1 in salary from Google. But he controls nearly 28 percent of the voting shares in the company and has a personal fortune worth more than $20 billion.
As a couple, Wojcicki and Brin were ranked among the five biggest donors to U.S. charities in 2012, after giving away $223 million last year. Their Brin Wojcicki Foundation supports human rights and anti-poverty programs, and the couple also has donated to research into Parkinson’s disease.
They also helped launch a major science foundation, which awards the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, earlier this year along with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, his wife Priscilla Chan, and other tech figures.
(Dan Nakaso of the San Jose Mercury News contributed to this report.)
©2013 San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)
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