Google Blogoscoped


NYTimes Profiles Googlers Who Became MultiMillionaires After Stock  (View post) [PersonRank 10]

Tuesday, November 13, 2007
9 years ago5,822 views

Bonnie Brown was fresh from a nasty divorce in 1999, living with her sister and uncertain of her future. On a lark, she answered an ad for an in-house masseuse at Google, then a Silicon Valley start-up with 40 employees. She was offered the part-time job, which started out at $450 a week but included a pile of Google stock options that she figured might never be worth a penny.

After five years of kneading engineers’ backs, Ms. Brown retired, cashing in most of her stock options, which were worth millions of dollars ...

Julie Smith [PersonRank 1]

9 years ago #

[The Millionaire Google Masseuse!]

Have you read about her? On the cover of the New York Times. She was the Google masseuse when they first started, and five years later she retired a millionaire.

She has a book called Giigle and she has a web site with excerpts from the book.


Yeah! That's her! I found her web site: – her book is insane funny.

[Comments for multiple threads merged – Tony]

Above 2 comments were made in the forum before this was blogged,

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

9 years ago #

(Here's a photo of Bonnie courtesy of her agent) ...

Old photo for reference:
http: //

[Edit: Replaced the picture with another, higher-res one. -Philipp]

James Xuan [PersonRank 10]

9 years ago #

Urgh, I was expecting some hot 25-30 year old, dunno why...But, fair play to her for writing a book

Olilli Ambrose [PersonRank 1]

9 years ago #

James, you were expecting a "hot 25-30 year old" because you live in an ignorant fantasy world in which a massage therapist is a glorified prostitute, rather than a trained and skilled practitioner whose offerings include assuaging injury, illness and stress and have nothing at all to do with your sexual fantasies or fulfillment.

I am quite surprised that Ms. Brown refers to herself as a "masseuse" as it is a demeaning and ambiguous term that allows such ignorance to continue.

Olilli Ambrose [PersonRank 1]

9 years ago #

I would like to add that her looks have absolutely nothing to do with her ability to perform her work, just as, I imagine your looks have little bearing on whatever you do for a living. Unless, James, you are a model or actor.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

9 years ago #

> I am quite surprised that Ms. Brown refers to
> herself as a "masseuse" as it is a demeaning
> and ambiguous term that allows such ignorance
> to continue.

You are surprised that her usage of the word (or the American Heritage dictionary's usage; Masseuse: "A woman who gives massages professionally") didn't fit your usage of the word? Or are you suggesting that Bonnie tries to demean herself on her own homepage?
Googling the word, I can see it's apparently ambiguous in perception (not sure if that's the fault of the word or general silly male fantasies), but to say the word is by its nature "demeaning" is, well, perhaps demeaning by you to those who use the word in normal contexts, like to describe their own job.

But, aside from word connotations perhaps too subtle for either James or me to have come across (as we're both no native speakers of English from what I know), I agree with your sentiments in regards to James' comments. Why the heck would a masseuse or massage therapist need to fit someone's image of beauty or ideal age?

Roger Browne [PersonRank 10]

9 years ago #

The NYT article says Bonnie Brown is now 52, so she would probably have been 44 when she joined Google.

Sour Grapes [PersonRank 1]

9 years ago #

I'm sure her job is utterly honourable and above board, but the book looks like a total snooze-fest. What is it about me that I just don't care about the Google cafeteria?

Elisa [PersonRank 0]

9 years ago #

The original Google employees will cash out the most from the stock options given.
Google grew with unprecedented rate (just check out these insane valuations against other world companies – ...) But it can't continue to grow 50% a year. Bonnie lucked out- and cashed out at the right time too.

These sort of valuations make me wonder if Google might be a little inflated right now. We'll see....

Mysterius [PersonRank 10]

9 years ago #

I find the reaction to James's comment disproportionate, especially from Olilli Ambrose's quarter. From your derogatory comment that James must "live in an ignorant fantasy world", I might conclude that you yourself harbor your own preconceptions about people who make honest comments with no malice or ill intent.

James's comment:
"Urgh, I was expecting some hot 25-30 year old, dunno why...But, fair play to her for writing a book"

Does that sounds like a comment from the sort of lewd, sexist mind James has been accused of possessing? I think not.

Segments of the media and the porn industry encourage the sexualized image of the "masseuse", just as other traditionally female-associated roles have been given sexual connotations, such as nurses, maids, and secretaries. You may argue that these sort of connotations should not be encouraged (and I may agree), but why do you feel the need to lambast James for an honest, open comment?

Does James's comment make him a bad person? Should he criticize himself for allowing such an image to spring to his mind unbidden? Self censor his thoughts?

I freely admit that, if asked for my mental image of Bonnie Brown before seeing her picture, I would have pictured a young female character in her 30s, perhaps 20s.
Did I think of sex? No.
If I did think of sex, or if James did, should this matter? No.
Would this effect my opinion toward her? No.
Would this mental image affect my conduct toward her? No.

"But, aside from word connotations perhaps too subtle for either James or me to have come across (as we're both no native speakers of English from what I know), I agree with your sentiments in regards to James' comments. Why the heck would a masseuse or massage therapist need to fit someone's image of beauty or ideal age?"

Did James suggest that his pre-conceived image should have any bearing on her?

Everyone has prejudices. ...
It's not whether we have them that's the issue, but what we do despite them.

Alex ( [PersonRank 0]

9 years ago #

Hello everyone,

it's a good article anyway. Btw, I admit I expected Bonny to be a tiny bit prettier :) But still, I'm translating this article to publish it on my Russian weblog coz people here are also interested in a nice piece of Google's behind-the-scene evidence :)

Julie Smith [PersonRank 1]

9 years ago #

James, have you ever been to Ethiopia and not showered for a week after crawling around in flea-infested caves with Indiana Jones-type people? Because this is what you look like.

Bonnie was on a missions trip in Ethiopia when this picture was taken. I have the full image of this picture. What you don't see in the image are the native people surrounding her and her arms around them.

Mysterius [PersonRank 10]

9 years ago #

[put at-character here]Julie Smith: Then more power to her; in fact, considering the circumstances, she's not in bad shape at all.

That has nothing to do with James's comment, though; you haven't shown how his comment makes him a bad person. Of course, that may not have been your intent, anyways.

Julie Smith [PersonRank 1]

9 years ago #

I don't know James. So I don't know what kind of person he is.

My intent was to place the picture in context so that viewers would understand why she doesn't look like a beauty queen 24 hours a day. I'd hate for people to see me when I first get up in the a.m. I'd really hate to think what I'd look like after crawling around in caves.

Outtanames999 [PersonRank 0]

9 years ago #

Hmm. The photo is labeled "courtesy of her agent", so presumably it was authorized or approved, or at the very least, some professional level intelligence was involved in the decision to distribute it, which should have anticipated the type of cropping applied... Live and learn, perhaps?

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

9 years ago #

Outtanames, the photo was authorized but this forum blows up every picture to 400 pixels width (and proportional height), automatically... which sometimes causes weird sizes for otherwise smaller images (e.g. for icons!). We're used to this in the forum so I didn't really worry, but it must have looked strange indeed to anyone else :)

Olilli [PersonRank 0]

9 years ago #

Phillip, I am surprised that Bonnie uses the term "masseuse" because I am a massage therapist. Have been for 15 years. In my experience, people who use the term masseuse are the same people who are expecting that my services will include a sexual favor. And most people who call themselves masseuses do offer sexual service that they call "massage". Look at Craig's List for a few minutes and you will see what I mean. Perhaps Webster's Dictionary is naive to the cultural subtleties that have been steeped into this word. Most massage therapists that I know do not like that term and would never use it. As a professional, who went through a 1600 hour program to learn how to care for injury and illness with massage therapy, I do find the constant link to prostitution demeaning.

Mysterius, did I call James a "bad person"? I reread my comments (which were honest and open from my own perspective) and don't see that I did. I do consider the expectation that someone will be young and hot based on their profession to be ignorant. I also did not use the word sexist in my commentary, so use your own arguments upon yourself to determine your own biases.

My reaction is based on dealing with people who expect their massage therapist to be a hot "massuese". Possibly due to fantasy created by media. Every movie or tv show that I have ever seen depicts a massage therapist as a young attractive woman who has confused professional/sexual boundaries.

I am now the manager of a resort spa. We have a massage therapist who is not young and "hot". She is a wonderful professional with healing hands. With disappointing frequency, male guests with a certain attitude about massage therapy will ask for another massage therapist after they see her, especially after they see some of our prettier therapists.

Are they treating her differently because of their biases? *YES*

So, yeah, I read James' comment and gave my own honest and open reaction to it. Do I consider James a bad person? I don't even know him.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

9 years ago #

Olilli, fair enough. One thing I wonder about though – if you apparently use the word "massage therapist" in your spa and yet men are sometimes misunderstanding the situation and aksing for "prettier therapists," that kind of verifies the suspicion I voiced above... that perhaps the ambiguity has less to do with the word chosen (masseuse vs massage therapist) and more with general "silly male fantasies" as I called it (or perhaps general image portrayed in media). Then again, perhaps the percentage of men asking for a "prettier therapist" might increase if you'd use the word "masseuse." You should do a test partnering with some news magazine publication by replacing the labeling for a week and then counting the number of men who get it wrong :)

gr8therapy [PersonRank 0]

9 years ago #

Rock on girl! Good for Bonnie to have had the opportunity to pull that bit of luck and hard work to her advantage. If anyone has anything negative to say, you are just a jealous person who wishes you were in her place. Hell, as a Massage Therapist myself, I wish that were me. I would be the one giving money away and sitting on a beach somewhere. [PersonRank 10]

9 years ago # ...

Now she is in a CNN video

Julie Smith [PersonRank 1]

8 years ago #

I think she's adorable.

I got a book last week in San Jose at one of her book signings, and she is much prettier in real life. She read some from her book and everyone laughed their heads off! And she went around the room and massaged everyone there. It was great.

I don't know when her next public appearance is, but she has events listed on her web site. AND her book is now for sale on her Web site: – I love her. After reading the book and learning about how hard her life was before she went to work for Google, I admire her even more. The world needs more heroic women like Bonnie Brown.

This thread is locked as it's old... but you can create a new thread in the forum. 

Forum home


Blog  |  Forum     more >> Archive | Feed | Google's blogs | About


This site unofficially covers Google™ and more with some rights reserved. Join our forum!