In 2014, Scott Hassan, known as Google’s third founder, sent a text message to his 13-year-old wife, Allison Huynh, saying their marriage was over and he moved away from home.
Nearly seven years later, the couple is still in litigation over how to split real estate and technology investments as well as high-quality California real estate, which is estimated to be worth billions of dollars.
The trial, which is expected to begin on Monday, offers an unusual public peek into the details of Silicon Valley’s huge divorce. These included Hassan’s failure to get Huynh to sign the so-called
Technology billionaires tend to stand quietly behind closed doors — some of them more than a few times. While the sometimes unpleasant details of ending a marriage often show up in the news, they are rarely willing to exchange blows in public courts and expose the complex network of their personal finances.
When Google founder Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki, who set up the genetic test 23andMe, divorced after eight years of marriage in 2015, they hired a private judge to discuss the details. The recent divorce of Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos was also handled privately.
But Huynh and Hassan go to court in Santa Clara County, California, losing a secret that money can buy. Why this is happening is a controversial question. He said Hassan refused to take his case to private trial. He said private judges may not keep trials confidential and require them to pay the fees of retired judges or impartial attorneys.
Huynh accused Hassan of engaging in “divorce terrorism” and using legal means to adjourn the trial. Huynh, 46, said in an interview that Hassan told him he was going to “bury him” and make sure he “got nothing.”
Hassan, 51, denied this in his written answer to a New York Times question. He wrote: “At the end of a relationship, through such a long divorce, things are not easy, no one is in the best shape.”
Hassan is not a household name, and certainly not like Brin or Larry Page, they are considered the founders of Google. But without Hassan’s input, Google might just be an information technology project at Stanford University.
When he met with PhD candidate Page, he was a Research Assistant at Stanford University’s Department of Computer Science, making him a regular programmer for many graduate students. He rewrote the Page code for a slow crawler that the page created to understand the relationship between links on different websites. He also built a search engine with Brin, which eventually became Google.
When Page and Brin founded Google in 1998, Hassan bought 160,000 shares for $ 800. When Google became public in 2004, its shares were worth more than $ 200 million. Google parent company Alphabet’s share price today exceeds $ 13 billion.
Although Hassan has never worked for Google, he is one of the founders of a company called eGroups, which was sold to Yahoo in 2000 for $ 432 million. He also founded two robotics companies.
Hassan met Huynh in 2000 through a mutual friend at Stanford University. He moved to the United States from Vietnam after the war and came to Stanford University for a scholarship. Huynh said he interrupted his school a few years before meeting with Hassan to look for opportunities during the Internet boom. He works as a consultant and web developer and builds websites for clients like Wells Fargo Bank.
In 2001, five days before Christmas, they held a wedding at the Little White Church in Las Vegas. Both said that marriage agreements were not discussed and that financial issues were hardly discussed at all.
Huynh said he supported the family financially in his early years. He said Hassan has $ 60,000 in debt, so he often pays for food, travel and entertainment, including Pagen and Brin’s engagement party.
Hassan said this was not the case. When they got married, her financial situation was secure and she had no debts. In addition to Google shares, which were still a speculative investment at the time, he also owned a house in San Francisco as well as $ 8 million in Yahoo shares (which fell sharply after the sale of his business) and Amazon shares, he said.
Huynh said he has set aside his career to raise children and assist Hassan in business. When they were married for four years, on the second birthday of their eldest daughter, a money problem appeared.
Less than a year after Google’s announcement, Hassan proposed the agreement in return for waiving all marital claims in the future. Hassan offered Huynh $ 20 million worth of Google stock – less than 10% of his stock – and half of three Bay Area properties: houses in Palo Alto and San Francisco, and a commercial building in Menlo Park. He felt blind and hurt. He refused.
Hassan said he had offered an agreement to share the wealth he had just found.
Later that year, they moved into a larger house in one of the richest areas of Palo Alto. Huynh lives with her children in a 7,500-square-foot house on Redfin worth $ 20 million.
Despite this, Huynh said there are few signs that Hassan is unhappy. But in 2014, when MyDream, the virtual reality company he founded in 2011, was on a business trip, he received a text message from Hassan announcing that the marriage was over and he moved away.
“I was shocked,” he said. “I kept telling him, ‘You’re probably kidding.'”
Hassan said he shouldn’t be surprised. He said they argued a few days ago when he wrongly accused him of infidelity of children. He said he never accused him of betrayal, but questioned his whereabouts when he was away from home for a long time.
After several negotiations, they resigned in January 2015.
After that, they got entangled in court. Hassan’s ownership in alphabetical order is not a problem in a divorce case. They are fighting for a small legacy that is difficult to define.
In 2019, Huynh filed a lawsuit to close the sale of the Hassan business, a robotics company called “appropriate technology,” to a Danish company for $ 400,000. As a shareholder, he accused Hassan of selling below market price to reap personal tax benefits. The sale was unsuccessful and is suitable for bankruptcy.
Hassan said that even though the company lent him $ 90 million, the company still loses more than $ 1 million a month. He tried to ask for quotes from Google, Facebook , Apple and Microsoft , but none of them were interested. He said he accepted the only offer he received.
The couple officially divorced in May 2020 and agreed to guard their three teenage children together.
Next week’s lawsuit is part of a long legal process designed to divide property and resolve other financial issues such as spouse and child benefits. California is one of nine states, and funds acquired during a divorce are distributed equally.
In 2006, Hassan founded Greenheart Investments. In preview documents, Huynh’s attorneys noted that Greenheart has invested in more than 15 technology companies and more than 30 properties, including a 195-unit apartment building in Menlo Park, less than a distance from Facebook’s office. The document stated that in 2015, Greenheart was worth more than $ 1 billion.
Huynh said Hassan owns more than 50 limited companies to keep his technology investments and real estate. Hassan said he owns about 20 properties, while other investments are in two “umbrella” corporations.
Huynh said Greenheart should be treated as a joint property because Hassan has repeatedly confused its property and the boundary of shared property. But Hassan’s lawyers stated at a legal briefing that they argue that the company should be considered his independent property because it started with his pre-marital assets.
As the trial approaches, the disagreement has changed dramatically. This month, Huynh found the website allisonhuynh.com with photos, links to social media accounts, and news reports about him. It also contains a legal document about him 20 years ago that is no longer available online and contains obscene information about his past.
The website hid the identity of the person behind it. However, Huynh noticed that a person named Scott Wendell had downloaded these legal documents. Wendell is another name for Hassan.
Hassan admitted he set up the website in a “time of frustration” because Huynh and his lawyers told the media a “one-sided story.” He wrote in an email to the New York Times: “I understand this is not the right way to solve this problem. In the end, it will only make our dispute more open and exciting.” Hassan said he had already taken down this site.
Huynh, who graduated from Stanford University last year, said that when he tried to start a new business, the site could damage his reputation, including Adoraboos, a mobile game designed to teach children blockchain and cryptocurrency.
Hassan said that while they disagree on justice, he believes his ex-wife should not get anything.
Hassan wrote, “I have no doubt that we will end up making her a woman with generations of wealth.”