As I tell it in “In the Plex,” on the day of the Google IPO in 2004, director of engineering Wayne Rosing addressed an all-hands meeting. In his hand was a baseball bat. His message to Googlers was that even though lots of them were going to be pretty rich that day, he would not tolerate any displays of wealth that could endanger the egalitarian company culture. Specifically, he said that if he looked in the parking lot over the next few days and saw an influx of new Porsches or similar bling-y just-bought cars, he would take that baseball bat and smash some windshields.
Google culture is by and large fixed now. But if Wayne Rosing were still around (he left in 2005), he’d probably be very busy with that baseball bat. Case in point: Ben Sloss Treynor, who came to Google in 2003. Treynor has been instrumental in helping build up Google infrastructure and is the father of the company’s Site Engineering Reliability team, which I described in my Wired story about Google data centers. I found him an affable and very helpful source when I interviewed him, twice, for my story.
What I didn’t know what that he is a major, major, car enthusiast who indulges his habit bigtime. According to a Wired.com story that ran today, Treynor has a collection that included but is not limited to “two Ferraris, an extremely rare McLaren 12C Spyder, and the brand-new high-performance Ford Raptor truck.” One of those Ferraris is a 599XX Evo. I don’t know what that is, but it sounds expensive. And in fact, Treynor purchased it for $1.78 million. (OK, it was a charity auction to help Italian earthquake victims.)
It seems that his collection predates the Google IPO. In 2003, Car and Driver magazine featured one of his Vipers, pricet-tag allegedly nearly $140K. Note I did not say one of his cars, but one of his Vipers. (According to the article he already had two of them.)
He seems to have a good sense of humor about his purchases. Recently when an incredulous car buff asked him to prove he owned all that horsepower–by taking their picture with pieces of bread of them– Treynor responded by posing the cars with bread items appropriate to the home country of the respective autos.
But would Wayne Rosing be amused? My guess is if he had stuck around at Google, Rosing would have long given up trying to police displays of wealth. How many Tesla windshields can one guy smash, anyway?