Silicon Valley's golden pair split in Google love triangle

By Tim Walker

Anne Wojcicki
Anne Wojcicki

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 magazine puts Brin's personal fortune at US$24 billion ($30.8 billion); he also holds almost US$21 billion 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, Brin's prospective divorce would have no material effect on his company.

Anne Wojcicki
Anne Wojcicki

It might prove somewhat more awkward for Wojcicki's own venture. Google invested around US$10 million 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 were involved in Google's development from the beginning. After Brin and 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.

Brin and his wife have several joint interests besides Google and 23andMe. In 2012, the philanthropic pair donated US$223 million 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, 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.

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. Rosenberg recently revealed in a post 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!"

Rosenberg appears in a video posted on YouTube in which she plays different reactions to someone wearing the glasses.

There is no suggestion that the pair became an item before Brin's separation from Wojcicki. 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. Barra announced this week that he was leaving Google for the booming Chinese phone manufacturer Xiaomi. His exit is not thought to be related to any romantic entanglements.

• To watch the video of Amanda Rosenberg click here.

Internet couples

Bill and Melinda Gates - The Microsoft founder and his wife set up the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which focuses on healthcare in poor regions, in 1994, the same year they married.

Mark Zuckerberg, Priscilla Chan - The Facebook boss married his college sweetheart last year. It has been revealed that they have made a US$500m gift to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

Steve Jobs and Laurene Powell - The Apple founder's widow has revealed that Jobs secretly donated tens of millions of dollars to charity during his lifetime.

- Independent

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