The story of Google co-founder Sergey Brin’s liaison with Google Glass marketing manager Amanda Rosenberg, and his subsequent split from his wife Anne Wojcicki are well known in Silicon Valley. Wojcicki and Brin, who had been married for six years and have two children together, are said to be living separately but that they were not legally separated.
Evidently, in the early days of the Google Glass Project, Amanda Rosenberg had spent time with Anne Wojcicki trying to understand how to target mothers with the gadget. They had thus became friends: Wojcicki had given Rosenberg a Christmas present, and Brin and Wojcicki went out to dinners with Rosenberg and Hugo Barra, her now ex-boyfriend and then an executive in Google’s Android team. But in late 2012 Wojcicki “came across messages between Rosenberg and Brin that caused her to feel alarm,” reported an exposing article in Vanity Fair.
What is less known is that Google CEO Larry Page apparently stopped talking to co-founder and long-time friend Sergey Brin after his affair with Amanda Rosenberg emerged. Larry Page, who has been friends with Brin since they first met during a welcome event for graduate students of Stanford’s computer science department, refused to speak to him after news of the affair emerged. According to an unnamed source quoted in the Vanity Fair article, “Larry is so ethically strict. … I heard Larry was insanely upset by this whole situation and wasn’t talking to Sergey” for a time.
Many employers have written or verbal polices on office romances. Employers implemented policies because they realize they aren’t going to stop people from having romantic relationships. They want to best protect the company from a claim of sexual harassment and ensure there’s no favoritism or conflict, which could hurt productivity and impact morale. In fact, Google’s code of conduct does not forbid dating and romantic relationships between employees,
“Romantic relationships between co-workers can, depending on the work roles and respective positions of the co-workers involved, create an actual or apparent conflict of interest. If a romantic relationship does create an actual or apparent conflict, it may require changes to work arrangements or even the termination of employment of either or both individuals involved. Consult Google’s Employee Handbook for additional guidance on this issue.”
Anne Wojcicki, who got a degree in biology from Yale, is one of the founders of 23andMe, personal genomics and biotechnology company that provides rapid genetic testing. She was even featured on the cover of Fast Company magazine as “The Most Daring CEO in America.”
Anne’s sister, Susan Wojcicki, continues to be one of the top executives at Google, where she is currently CEO of YouTube. In its formative days, Google’s first headquarters was located in her garage, and she was one of the first hires by Brin and Page.
Incidentally, Sergey and Anne met in 1998 when he moved off campus with his Stanford computer-science classmate Larry Page to set up a search-engine company in Susan Wojcicki garage.