Stanford’s President and the Google Book Search Library Project

The Wall Street Journal ran a lengthy article about the personal finances of John L. Hennessy, president of Stanford University, today ("The Golden Touch of Stanford’s President"). It kicks off by noting that Hennessy made $1 million last November that didn’t come from Stanford.

The last seven paragraphs are of interest, since they discuss Stanford’s relationship to the Google Book Search Library Project. The Executive Director of the Author’s Guild says that Hennessy’s Google holdings are a "great concern" and there "seems to be both a personal and institutional profit motive here." The Stanford general counsel indicates that Hennessy was not part of discussions about Google Book Search Library Project. Another issue is Google’s $2 million gift to the Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society to promote fair use. Lawrence Lessig denies that the Google gift had any "quid pro quo" implications, and the former Law School Dean indicates that Hennessy had no part in the Google gift.

Concerns about potential conflict of interest may be fueled by Hennessy’s $11 million gains from sale of Google stock and use of stock options, his current Google stock holdings valued at $2.3 million, and his Google stock options that may be worth $15.8 million if exercised.

Source: Hechinger, John, and Rebecca Buckman. "The Golden Touch of Stanford’s President." The Wall Street Journal, 24 Febuary 2007, A1, A10.

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