Family tragedy for former YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki


It’s every parent’s worst nightmare.

Earlier this week, the 19-year-old son of former YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki was found dead at UC Berkeley of an apparent drug overdose, according to his grandmother, Esther Wojcicki. The news was widely reported yesterday, although Wojcicki posted it on Facebook several days ago, in writing: “A tragedy struck my family yesterday. My beloved grandson Marco Troper, aged 19, passed away yesterday. Our family is devastated beyond belief. Marco was the kindest, loving, intelligent, fun, beautiful human being. He was just starting his second semester of his junior year at UC Berkeley majoring in math and he absolutely loved it. He had a strong community of friends from his dorm at Stern Hall and his fraternity Zeta Psi and thrived academically. At home, he told us countless stories about his life and his friends in Berkeley.

UC Berkeley spokeswoman Janet Gilmore said there were no signs of foul play and an investigation into the death was underway.

Esther Wojcicki told the Palo Alto Daily about the death of her grandson: “Kids in college, especially freshmen and sophomores, experience everything. I think it was an experiment gone wrong. She separately told the San Francisco Chronicle: “He ingested a drug and we don’t know what was in it.” One thing we do know is that it was a drug.

Wojcicki left her post as CEO of the Alphabet-owned subsidiary a year ago, writing in a blog post that after nine years in the role, she had “decided to open a new chapter focused on my family, my health and my personal projects. passionate of.”

Neal Mohan, then YouTube’s chief product officer, has since led the organization.

I didn’t have the opportunity to interview Wojcicki while she held one of the most prestigious CEO positions in the world. I remember being captivated by her appearance at a Fortune event in Aspen in 2015 as she answered questions that she was asked regularly, focusing on how she juggled a global job while also being a mother to five children. His interviewer, veteran journalist Adam Lashinsky, was teased during an interview later in the day with brothers Ari and Rahm Emanuel, who noted that Lashinsky didn’t ask them about their children at all. But truth be told, as a working mother of two who had a considerably less demanding job at the time, I was also curious about how Wojcicki – who gave birth to her youngest child just before the event – handled everything.

Notably, she did not back down on the issue. Instead, she talked about associating her different children with different stages of Google’s growth, after first responding: “‘You’re pretty busy’ is perhaps the short answer.” I love kids, I love work, and I think on some level I just love creating things and building. And like children, these are very rewarding projects. Building businesses is also rewarding and I enjoy doing both.

My heart now breaks for Wojcicki and his family, known far beyond their home in Silicon Valley and including Anne Wojcicki, CEO of 23andMe, Susan’s sister Janet, and Anne, a professor of pediatrics at the University of California in San Francisco, and Esther Wojcicki, a renowned educator who has written extensively on how to raise successful children.

Not surprisingly, Esther Wojcicki told the SF Chronicle that the family was speaking with the press in part to “prevent this from happening to another family.”

“The tragedy is very difficult to bear,” the Chronicle said. “It makes you want to hide in a closet and never come out. But I think the bottom line is that we need to move forward and see what we can do to help others so that there aren’t other kids who end up like Marco.

Presumably, his death is already causing a lot of discussion. After hearing about it last night, I reminded my own children of the dangers of drugs, how painfully precious life is, and that no one is safe from calamity.


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