Google's websites are safe, sterile, and boring. Its executives are anything but. Vanity Fair looked inside the secret affair that ended Silicon Valley's most prominent power couple, and found that the powerful people who run the web giant are just as horny and screwed up as anyone else—if not more.
There are few heterosexual influencer-couplings as devoutly worshipped as Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki—the former famous for co-founding Google, the latter for tolerating him. Vanity Fair's story of their rise and fall hits an ominous note early:
Wojcicki hadn't always wanted to get hitched—during her years on the Street she saw bankers cheating on their wives, according to the friend of the couple's—but Brin was her man.
If there's any place more antagonistic toward staid monogamy than Wall Street, it's the California-based Google, where startup polyamory pervades and employees fuck each other without worry. Google, I've been told numerous times, is maybe the pre-eminent Silicon Valley spot for casual office dating and screwing your coworkers en masse—the fun way, not the Zuckerberg and Winklevoss way.
It looks like this was the case for Wojcicki, Brin, and his new girlfriend, face-computer marketing star Amanda Rosenberg (pictured above between the car seats of Brin's children), who all became uncomfortably close as the latter two started sleeping together:
Wojcicki began to help Brin informally on Google Glass, says the friend. Rosenberg wanted to get the product into the hands of moms, so she came over to Wojcicki's home to discuss reaching out to the many kid-oriented services in Los Altos... Wojcicki and Rosenberg became close enough that Wojcicki bought Rosenberg a Christmas present. The two of them went to a birthday dinner for Russian investor Yuri Milner, with [Google VP Hugo] Barra, Brin, and both Wojcicki's and Brin's parents.
Somehow, all this intimacy went awry:
Around that time, according to the friend, Wojcicki came across messages between Rosenberg and Brin that caused her to feel alarm, and she mentioned her concern to Rosenberg. (Rosenberg declined to comment for this article.) A few months later, in April, Brin moved out of their estate in Los Altos and into another home that they own nearby. He and Wojcicki maintained a cordial relationship.
But not only did Brin and Wojcicki stay together post-affair revelation, so too did Rosenberg and her... other Google boyfriend:
This wasn't the outcome Wojcicki had desired for her marriage, but she could live with it. However, something odd was happening: Rosenberg was not leaving [Hugo] Barra. They were still dating while she was also seeing Brin. Allegedly, Page and Schmidt were aware of this.
The co-founder of Google, the VP of Android, the co-founder's wife, and a junior marketing staffer: Silicon Valley's most powerful love trapezoid?
Only when Brin and Rosenberg planned to attend Burning Man together did they think about going public with their relationship. This would be a perfect Valley ending to some corporate poly-lust intrigue, but of course it's not the end:
"He thinks his life is great now." Brin attended Marissa Mayer's annual extravagant Halloween party with Wojcicki and the kids. This didn't sit well with Rosenberg, says the family friend—"the two of them have horrible, screaming fights. It's part of the passion, the chemical attraction."
And, as far as we know, this hasn't been formally addressed at Google. A public affair between a married executive and his female underling—about as clear-cut as power conflicts can get at work—seems to be condoned. With all the money and influence of the world, it's no wonder a man like Brin would turn back to pedestrian, old-fashioned "making poor personal decisions" for a thrill now and again. Especially if he never has to worry about consequences.