Reclusive billionaire and Google cofounder Larry Page has been off the grid for over a year. Sources say he’s been hiding out on Fijian islands that are cut off from most travelers during the pandemic. (GOOG, GOOGL)

Larry Page

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On June 19, as Fiji battled a second wave of coronavirus cases, Fijian Broadcasting Company News published a report that Google cofounder Larry Page had donated COVID-19 medical supplies to the country via his private jet. 

A few days later, the story disappeared. Fijian health authorities asked the network to take the article down, saying the information should not be public, said a person familiar with the matter. The person asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals.

The story reported that supplies, including face masks, gowns, and gloves, were sent in the private jet, which flew from Hawaii to Fiji’s Nadi International Airport. A photo of the aircraft, taken shortly ahead of the story’s publication, was posted on social media. Insider verified the registration number in a Federal Communications Commission database, which showed that it’s licensed to Blue City Holdings. Blue City Holdings manages a fleet for Page, Google cofounder Sergey Brin, and former CEO Eric Schmidt.

An article about Page is rare these days. His whereabouts and activities have been mostly a mystery, though he maintains considerable sway over one of the world’s most powerful technology companies. While Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, and Apple’s Tim Cook have been grilled in congressional hearings, Page has avoided public scrutiny since he and Brin stepped away from Google and parent Alphabet in late 2019 — even though they effectively have the final say on decisions through special voting stock. 

“It’s certainly unusual, and it’s certainly not good corporate governance,” said Nell Minow, vice chair of consulting firm ValueEdge Advisors. “You don’t normally see someone who’s still involved with the company hang a ‘gone fishing’ sign on the door and disappear.”

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Page’s ties to Fiji go much deeper than donations. The billionaire has spent months in the country during the pandemic, said sources who have seen or interacted with him there. He has stayed mainly on the heart-shaped Tavarua island, which lies west of the mainland, said two people who have seen him there in the past year. He’s also been spotted nearby on the smaller Namotu, and there’s even speculation among locals that Page has bought an island in the archipelago. The people discussing details about Page asked not to be identified. 

Page didn’t respond to emails seeking comment. A Google spokesperson declined to comment, as did Fijian Broadcasting Company News and Fiji’s Ministry of Health.

Fiji has many attributes to lure a former tech executive yearning for privacy. The country closed its borders to travelers during the pandemic, but last summer it launched the “Blue Lane” initiative, allowing superyacht and private-jet owners to enter as long as they abide by quarantine rules.

Page used this system, said two of the people who spoke with Insider. He came into Fiji with his family and an entourage, and he’s spent an “extended period of time” in the country during the pandemic, said one of the sources who interacted with him. Page spent months in Fiji during the summer of 2020 and has returned …read more

Source:: Businessinsider – Tech


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