The Google-Cash-Swapping-Orgy BlimpS

Google hasn't been shy about sharing its riches with select friends outside the company. And the number one rule of this tightly-knit group seems to be: spread the love. Which brings us to 23AndMe's new, very incestuous blimp.

The Google-Cash-Swapping-Orgy Blimp

23andMe, you'll recall, is the genetics-testing company founded by Anne Wojciki (left), wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin. Google is an investor in 23andMe and leases the company office space.

The Google-Cash-Swapping-Orgy Blimp

A tipster recently spotted a 23AndMe "blimp" flying around Cupertino and the rest of Silicon Valley. Some digging revealed the "blimp" is, in fact, a zeppelin, provided by a company called Airship Ventures.

Airship Ventures, in turn, is funded by Google, according to some strong evidence we wrote about previously. It's also funded by "futurist" Esther Dyson. Dyson, like Google, also invests in 23AndMe.

The Google-Cash-Swapping-Orgy Blimp

Dyson, as it turned out, is also funded by Google; "I have fed at its trough many times," she once wrote, citing speaking gigs and advisory board slots. She has, in turn, been something of an advocate, declaring publicly that Google actively fights evil and should be allowed to regulate itself (she disclosed her ties to the company when saying this).

So, here are some of the interlocking money flows:

  • Google has given money to its founder's wife's firm 23AndMe, which in turn has given money (or other consideration) to Airship Ventures, owned by Google itself (it would appear) and by Google vendor and public Google advocate Esther Dyson.
  • Google has given money and/or co-invested with "futurist" Dyson, who has in turn given money to 23AndMe, a Google investment co-founded by it's own co-founder's wife.
  • 23AndMe gives money to Google, for office space, while Google gives money to 23AndMe as an investment; 23AndMe then hires Airship Ventures, whose profits then go to Google as an (apparent) owner, and to Google defender Dyson as another owner.
  • Dyson's investment 23AndMe hired Airship Ventures, another Dyson investment.

The Google-Cash-Swapping-Orgy Blimp

There are also some softer, stranger relationships:

  • Esther Wojcicki (left), mother-in-law to Google co-founder Sergey Brin and mother to 23AndMe founder Anne Wojcicki, has promoted both Airship Ventures and Google Docs in the Huffington Post. She once worked for Google as an educational consultant.
  • NASA allows Airship Ventures to dock at Moffet Field, saying its craft will be used for scientific investigations. It also allows Google's founders to park their party jets there, citing similar reasons.

It's hard to doubt this back-scratching, built as it is on cashflow originating at Google, benefits the search giant's friends; the real question is whether it does any good for shareholders.

(Second blimp pic by John Murphy on Facebook, submitted as part of a 23AndMe Facebook contest. Esther Dyson pic by Steve Jurvetson.)