After Three Mistresses, Google's Chairman Still Adores His WifeS

Eric Schmidt has either gone through a sudden midlife transformation or is a hopelessly tangled web of contradictions. Either way, the Google chairman and longtime CEO wants to make one thing clear: He is still devoted to his wife, despite all the, you know, extramarital girlfriends.

Our count of three non-wife paramours probably understates things, but here goes: There was Marcy Simon, the former TV news hand who went into PR; Kate Bohner, the former TV news hand who went into PR; and, according to the New York Post, Lisa Shields, the former TV news hand who went into PR. (There might also have been Rita Koselka, a former magazine news hand who went into executive recruiting. But then, she doesn't sound quite Schmidt's type.)

We'd sometimes heard Schmidt and wife Wendy, who trained as a journalist, have an open marriage. But then in February, the Post dropped the big news that the pair would divorce and were "working towards... an amicable separation."

Yet the Google honcho positively gushed over Wendy when she attended an awards ceremony honoring him as Alumnus of the Year at their mutual alma mater UC Berkeley weekend before last. As shown in the California Alumni Association video excerpted above, Schmidt took a marked pause from his largely cerebral talk pointed her out in the audience. It was an awfully soft and sentimental moment for a couple supposedly on the outs with one another.

It wasn't the only time Schmidt seemed to try and reconcile his college passions with his contemporary self. Though he once blacklisted CNET for Googling him and publishing the results, and though he more recently badgered his ex mistress into shutting down her blog, Schmidt in his address spoke repeatedly on the importance of practicing and defending free speech (see above). It was a contradictory moment not unlike the one last month when Schmidt basically called on Google engineers — a visible portion of whom are upset by the company's recent privacy practices — to speak their consciences more to halt socially harmful developments in tech.

Maybe Schmidt, having stepped down as CEO barely a year ago, has had a change of heart about his marriage, about people writing on his private life, and on the direction of his company. Or maybe, like Google itself, he's a walking enigma, and it has taken us until now to notice.