Google co-founder and world's sixth-richest person Sergey Brin files for divorce

He is the latest multibillionaire to face the prospect of an expensive divorce after Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos paid their former wives billions of dollars

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Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google and the world’s sixth-richest person with a net worth of $94 billion, has filed for divorce, making him the third multibillionaire in three years to end his marriage.

Mr Brin, 48, filed a petition for dissolution of his marriage to Nicole Shanahan earlier this month, citing “irreconcilable differences”, Bloomberg reported, quoting court documents.

The couple, who married in 2018 and have a daughter, requested that the divorce documents be sealed by the court for privacy reasons.

“Because of the high-profile nature of their relationship, there is likely to be significant public interest in their dissolution case and any potential child custody issues,” according to the filing in Santa Clara, California.

Mr Brin is the latest billionaire to face the prospect of an expensive divorce, joining Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who ended his marriage with MacKenzie Scott in April 2019, and Bill Gates, who split with Melinda French last year.

Mr Bezos, the world’s second-richest person with a fortune of $129bn, paid Ms Scott about $38bn to end their marriage of 26 years, making it one of the world’s most expensive divorces.

Under their agreement, he retained 75 per cent of Amazon's shares while Ms Scott received a 4 per cent stake in the company.

It is not known exactly how much Mr Gates, currently the fourth-wealthiest person in the world with a fortune of $112bn, paid Ms French when their divorce was finalised last August.

However, in the same month, Mr Gates’s Cascade Investment transferred 3.3 million shares of AutoNation to Ms French, as well as 2.8 million shares of Deere & Co and 9.5 million shares of Canadian National Railway, totalling more than $1bn, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Mr Gates also transferred more than $3bn worth of shares in the same three companies in the days following their May 3 divorce announcement, Bloomberg reported. At the time, the stocks alone were worth more than $5.7bn, but “it may only be part of the picture”, Bloomberg added.

Ms French currently has a net worth of $10.4bn, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Mr Brin is asking for joint custody of their daughter and is not seeking spousal support from Ms Shanahan, according to People magazine. He also requested in the court filing that Ms Shanahan not be awarded spousal support.

“All issues as to the property rights or obligations of the parties will be determined by confidential binding arbitration in accordance with a written agreement between the parties,” the filing said, according to People.

Mr Brin, whose first marriage to 23andMe co-founder Anne Wojcicki ended in divorce in 2015, co-founded Google with Larry Page in September 1998.

In 2015, the former Stanford University classmates went on to co-found Alphabet, which is now the parent company of the internet search engine.

The Russian-American’s fortune is primarily derived from his holdings in Alphabet. He stepped down as president of the company in 2019 but has a controlling share of Alphabet and remains on the board of directors.

Larry Page (L), Co-Founder and President, Products and Sergey Brin, Co-Founder and President, Technology pose inside the server room at Google's campus headquarters in Mountain View. They founded the company in 1998. (Photo by Kim Kulish/Corbis via Getty Images)

Ms Shanahan, a lawyer, is the president and founder of the Bia-Echo Foundation, which aims to create a “multiplying effect across new frontiers in reproductive longevity and equality, criminal justice reform and a healthy and liveable planet”, according to its website.

“In the past, Nicole has supported efforts in Bia-Echo’s three core investment areas through the Sergey Brin Family Foundation,” Ms Shanahan’s Bia-Echo Foundation profile says.

It is likely Mr Brin and Ms Shanahan have a prenuptial agreement as their relationship began long after he became a billionaire, Monica Mazzei, a partner at San Francisco-based law company Sideman & Bancroft, told Bloomberg.

But because the case is being handled by a private judge, “we will never know the details” of the divorce, she said.

Updated: June 20, 2022, 11:23 AM