Google Makes Its Replicant Phone Even CreepierS

It was unsettling enough that Google named its Nexus One after bio-mechanical humanoids from the dystopian future. Now it's rumored to be issuing the smartphone to secretive genetic scientists inside its office. Chalk up another cozy, kooky 23AndMe deal.

We've heard through the Silicon Valley grapevine that 23AndMe issued all employees a free Nexus One. It's not clear whether Google outright gifted the phones to the genetic testing startup, or sold them in bulk to 23AndMe for use as an employee fringe benefit.

But Google is so tightly intertwined with 23AndMe that it doesn't really matter. 23AndMe was co-founded by Anne Wojcicki, wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin; it has taken repeated investments from Google; it leases office space from Google; and it uses zeppelins from a company Google appears to be heavily tied to.

So count this as the latest example of how Google money and favors circulate to a large diaspora of company friends and back again to Google, through wives, in-laws, ex-employees, consultants, ex-consultants, blimp companies, NASA — the whole thing can get positively byzantine.

Of course, this isn't nearly as bad as that time Brin apparently funneled a tax-free investment to his wife's 23AndMe via Michael J. Fox's charity, but it's another piece of evidence in the pile to show how Google and its buddies could be handling these relationships more carefully, if only to avoid the appearance of so many conflicts of interest.

At the very least, 23AndMe should publish a blog post reassuring the world it has not been enlisted to help upgrade the next Nexus model with superior, genetically-derived Replicant technology. After all, the Nexus 1 was followed by at least six more models. And we know 23AndMe could use the cash.