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On Thursday, when Business Insider published Nicholas Carlson’s saccharine sweet story about Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, the report seemed inflated from the start. Before describing Brin’s most recent act of pure goodness, Carlson, in true fanboy style, writes:

“He’s given us a great technology that makes the Internet usable, created a company that provides jobs for tens of thousands of people, and donated millions to various charities. He’s investing in genetic cures for diseases and space exploration, too.”

In 40 words, Carlson manages to paint Brin as a modern-day messiah who has lately taken up the cause of yuppie families in downtown Los Altos, charging below-market rents to mom-and-pop stores such as a children’s bookstore, a playspace and a child-friendly coffee shop.

The whole story

Carlson’s report was actually in reference to a far more balanced story by Amir Efrati of The Wall Street Journal (San Francisco Bay Area) a day earlier, titled Google’s Brin Gives Los Altos a Lift, about Brin bankrolling a real-estate investment firm that has bought local properties in order to renovate them and attract new tenants, while retaining other stores that are family-friendly. Meanwhile, the firm, Passerelle Investment Co., is also slated to build a hotel and office space on another property it co-owns with the city of Los Altos.

Efrati, in his article, says,

“The firm’s moves have “energized” the town, though some seniors and others have “very mixed feelings” about supporting such growth because they want the city to keep its old character and aren’t as interested in children-focused businesses, she says.”

He adds,

“It isn’t unusual for such billionaires to get involved in real-estate efforts near where they live.”

Not everybody agrees

Not to undermine the Soviet-born techie’s good deeds, Business Insider’s Carlson willfully ignores the obvious to create a one-dimensional story in which the only thing missing is a halo around Brin’s head in the photo. It’s as if Carlson knew while writing that he was going overboard. He even signs off with a rider:

“I can already hear people complaining about this post: “Great, a rich guy is making a rich town nicer to live in. But Brin is doing a lot of other stuff for the world, and he doesn’t have to be investing in his community like this at all, and it’s just really cool that he is.”

Interestingly, while Efrati in his article writes that both Brin and a Google spokeswoman refused to comment, the Business Insider report featured the next day as one of the Top 3 Posts on Google Plus this week. Coincidence?

Anyway, if you go read Carlson’s report, don’t forget to read the far more entertaining comments that follow. Our favourites were:


He lives in Los Altos Hills, which doesn’t have it’s own downtown, and so the Los Altos downtown is HIS downtown, where HE hangs with his very very wealthy friends (median family income $250,000).

He is doing this so he has a nicer place to hang out without traveling very far. He is doing it for himself and his very very wealthy friends.

This is not the slightest bit charitable at all. It is completely self-centered.

Gary Anderson

Sorry, I already told people that the 1 percent are buying up the real estate and are going to kill the small investor by undercutting that small investor. Worse yet, they will NOT TAKE CARE OF THE PROPERTIES.

Hedge funds are even doing it. As much as I would like people to pay lower rent this is wrong. Plus, they are going to do bad things with the rental money:


lol… guys are acting like hes making factories for low wage workers

retail stores are quite pleasant compared to a real sweatshop

Ben For Ford

But his company conspired with other large corporate thieves to pay Congress to pass a law that kills their would be startup competitors. That’s charitable, right?

Just because they call it “reform” doesn’t mean it is.