'Oh my God, this is a sexual harassment claim waiting to happen': Early Google insiders describe Sergey Brin as a company 'playboy' who 'got around' with female employees

Justin Sullivan / Getty ImagesGoogle co-founder Sergey Brin
  • A new book about Google’s early company culture called “Valley of Genius: The Uncensored History of Silicon Valley” includes claims that the Google cofounder Sergey Brin used to be a “playboy” among female employees, according to an excerpt published by Vanity Fair.
  • In the excerpt, one early Google employee said Brin “got around” with employees.
  • Another early employee said in the excerpt that at the time she feared Brin’s behaviour would result in a sexual-harassment claim.

A new book about Google’s early company culture contains anecdotes that the Google cofounder Sergey Brin was a “playboy” among female employees.

The behind-the-scenes account from the reporter Adam Fisher, called “Valley of Genius: The Uncensored History of Silicon Valley,” draws on the recollections of early Google employees, Stanford professors, and insiders deeply acquainted with the company’s founding.

Vanity Fair published an excerpt of the book on Tuesday that includes claims that Google’s culture was once a sexually fraught environment where Brin was widely regarded as “the Google playboy.”

“He was known for getting his fingers caught in the cookie jar with employees that worked for the company in the masseuse room,” Charlie Ayers, a former executive chef for the company, recalled in the excerpt. “He got around.”

Heather Cairns, who was among the first 200 people hired by the company, described Google’s culture as sexually tense.

“Remember, we’re a bunch of twentysomethings except for me – ancient at 35 – so there’s some hormones and they’re raging,” she said.

Ayers said in the excerpt that when the company’s human-resources department raised eyebrows at Brin’s behaviour, Brin suggested he was entitled to engage with his employees in whatever manner he saw fit.

“HR told me that Sergey’s response to it was, ‘Why not? They’re my employees,'” Ayers said. “But you don’t have employees for f—ing! That’s not what the job is.”

Cairns too said she found Brin’s exploits to be troubling.

“‘Oh my God, this is a sexual harassment claim waiting to happen!’ That was my concern,” she recalled in the excerpt.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

You can read the full excerpt at Vanity Fair »

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