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Okay, gossip really isn’t my thing and I’m not going to make a habit of it, but I’m really kind of surprised by this. Tech crunch (as I learned from Deepak and Eye on DNA) has a post on 23 and me that is quite bothersome.

Apparently, one of the Google founders has invested in a company that specializes in personal genomics. All kinds of accusations of nepotism are flying in the Tech Crunch comments section.

So what if Sergey Brin (co-founder of Google) and Anne Wojcicki (one of the co-founders of 23 and me) are married. Don’t you think Brin has proved himself capable of making good investments?

I think he’s as qualified to invest in her company as many other investors.

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Comments

  1. #1 Deepak
    May 23, 2007

    I completely agree. Although I must say that it is always amusing to see techie types talk about biology.

  2. #2 Markk
    May 24, 2007

    Uhm… I would really think twice about it myself if he wasn’t invested… I mean, what does he know then? I’m not understanding this.

  3. #3 Anonymous
    May 24, 2007

    The issue isn’t whether Brin has personally invested in Wojcicki’s company (he already had quite a while ago). What’s new is that 23 and Me has repaid Brin’s earlier investment and now Google (the company, not Brin personally) has replaced that investment. This could in principle be a wise decision for Google, but it’s unusual for a company to invest in another company so far from its line of business (if Google shareholders wanted to invest in 23 and Me, they could do so directly, so there’s little sense in Google doing it for them – Google is a technology company, not an investment management firm). The fact that Brin is one of the Google founders and has a clear marital motive for wanting 23 and Me to get lots of investment does suggest a conflict of interest, if he was the reason why Google made this investment.

  4. #4 Paul A
    May 24, 2007

    Some of those comments are bizarre. Are they trying to say Sergey can’t allow Google to invest in any company with which he, his wife or presumably anyone they’ve ever met are involved? I think he’s proven over the past few years that he certainly isn’t stupid and will only invest money in worthwhile ventures.

    Maybe the people posting in the comments section are just annoyed that they aren’t getting any of that sweet Google gold?

    I do love this comment by Lorenz though – “i can�t wait for genetically contextual advertising.”
    Given the recent news about eye counters being installed on billboard ads and the ever-increasing levels of targeting offerd by PPC engines maybe it’s not too far-fetched? In a silly Philip K Dick kinda way :-)

  5. #5 Sandra Porter
    May 24, 2007

    I’m really being a bit sarcastic here and flipping the story around. The commenters at Tech Crunch implied (I thought) that Ms. Wojcicki’s company didn’t qualify for investment funds and that Brin was only investing because of his wife – aka World Bank, kind of stuff.

    That might be true, but I don’t think anyone should assume that just because two people are married, that one partner is unqualified to do the job. It’s even worse when they assume that it’s the female partner who isn’t qualified.

  6. #6 Sandra Porter
    May 25, 2007

    Anonymous,

    I see your point. I would think that Google would want to have a third party perform due diligence to avoid conflicts of interest. That’s a good point.

    I thought the Tech Crunch comments were unfair because of the automatic assumption that their personal status must meant the investment was a bad choice.

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    December 30, 2008

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