Family tragedy for former YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki


This is 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 spread widely yesterday, although Wojcicki posted the news on Facebook several days earlier, writing: “Tragedy struck my family yesterday. My beloved grandson Marco Tropper, age 19, passed away yesterday. Our family is devastated beyond comprehension. Marco was the most kind, loving, smart, funny and beautiful person. He was just starting to study mathematics in the second semester of his first year at UC Berkeley and was really enjoying it. She had a strong community of friends in her dorm at Stern Hall and her fraternity Zeta Psi, and she thrived academically. At home, he would tell us endless stories of his life and friends in Berkeley.

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

“Kids in college, especially freshman and sophomores, experiment with everything,” Esther Wojcicki told the Palo Alto Daily about her grandson's passing. I think it was an experiment that went wrong.” She told the San Francisco Chronicle separately: “He drank a drug, and we don't know what was in it. “The one thing we do know is that it was a drug.”

Wojcicki stepped down as CEO of the Alphabet-owned subsidiary a year ago, writing in a blog post that after nine years in the role, he was looking forward to “a new chapter focused on my family, health and personal projects.” Have decided to start.” passionate about.”

YouTube's Chief Product Officer, Neil Mohan, has been running the organization since then.

I didn't have the opportunity to interview Wojcicki while she held one of the most prestigious CEO positions in the world. I remember her appearance at a Fortune event in Aspen in 2015 mesmerized me as she answered the questions she was regularly asked, focused on how she coped with being a mother of five. Also handled a ubiquitous job. His interviewer, veteran reporter Adam Lashinsky, was teased in an interview with brothers Ari and Rahm Emanuel later the same day, who noted that Lashinsky did not ask him about his children at all. But to be honest, as a working mother of two and a much less demanding job at the time, I was also curious how Wojcicki — who gave birth to her youngest child just before the incident — handled it all.

Notably, she did not hold back on this question. Instead, she talked about connecting her different children with different stages of Google's development, saying after the first reaction, “'You're too busy' is probably the short answer. I like kids, I like work. And I think on some level I love making things and building things. And having kids are very rewarding projects. Creating companies is also rewarding and I enjoy doing both.”

My heart now breaks for Wojcicki and her family, who is known far beyond their home in Silicon Valley and includes Anne Wojcicki, CEO of 23andMe, Susan, and Anne's sister Janet, a professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. and Esther Wojcicki. A renowned teacher who has written extensively about raising successful children.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Esther Wojcicki told the SF Chronicle that the family is talking to the press to “prevent this from happening to another family.”

“The tragedy is very difficult to bear,” the Chronicle reported. “It makes you want to hide in a closet and never come out. But I think the main thing is that we have to move forward to see what we can do to help other people so that no other child ends up like Marco.

Presumably, his death is already giving rise to widespread discussions. After hearing about it late last night, I reminded my children of the dangers of drugs, how precious life is, and that no one is immune from disaster.