Person

Nicole Shanahan

Occupation:

Attorney and Philanthropist

Running Mate for Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Founder and Former CEO:

ClearAccessIP

Personal Philanthropy:

Bia-Echo Foundation

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Nicole Shanahan is a California-based attorney, founder of ClearAccessIP, former wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin, and a philanthropist focused on left-of-center political issues. As of 2024, she is serving as the running mate for Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in his 2024 presidential campaign while running as an independent. 1

Shanahan is the founder and president of the Bia-Echo Foundation, a grantmaking foundation that invests in left-of-center criminal justice policy, environmentalism, abortion access advocacy, and medical research regarding female infertility and reproductive longevity. 2

In 2018, Shanahan married Google co-founder and billionaire Sergey Brin. As of May 2021, the couple live in Los Altos, California. They work together on philanthropic efforts and have similar interests in political issues. 3

ClearAccessIP

Before her philanthropic endeavors, Shanahan worked in both the law and technology industries. In her early career, Shanahan worked at a firm known as RPX Corporation, which at the time was trying to develop a patent exchange market. 4

Later, she founded her own patent managing company, ClearAccessIP, which used AI to help owners of intellectual property assets develop and transact patent-protected technology. 5 In 2020, she sold the company to IPWe, Inc. 6

Philanthropy

Bia-Echo Foundation

In 2019, she founded Bia-Echo Foundation, her own private grantmaking organizing. As president, she oversees the Foundation’s donations to left-progressive criminal justice policy initiatives, environmentalist groups, abortion access advocacy, and medical research into female reproductive longevity. 7

Shanahan is particularly interested in criminal justice policy. In a 2021 interview with San Francisco Magazine, she recalled having told the head of Brin’s philanthropic foundation “about five years ago” that criminal justice reform would become one of the biggest issues of the generation. She added that she was proud to be a major donor for Measure J in Los Angeles County, a charter amendment to reallocate county funds to alternatives to incarceration. 8 Shanahan argued that if there was a “mental health professional” at the scene of George Floyd’s arrest the situation would have been de-escalated. 9

Her environmental efforts center on regenerative agriculture and carbon sequestration efforts. The relevant initiatives Bia-Echo funds include Kiss the Ground, Iowa State University Foundation’s Prairie Strips project, and the 50 Farms Project. 10

With the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, Shanahan through the Bia-Echo Foundation launched the Center for Reproductive Longevity and Equality, the world’s first institute dedicated to finding solutions to the problem of infertility among women over the age of 35. 11

Shanahan’s Bia-Echo Foundation also collaborated with Stanford University to launch the Stanford Computational Policy Lab. The Lab’s purpose is to provide data analysis to criminal justice reform research efforts and help develop technical innovations for the movement. 12

Sergey Brin Family Foundation

The Sergey Brin Family Foundation, the private foundation of Shanahan’s former husband, Google co-founder Sergey Brin, was the primary vehicle through which Shanahan carried out her philanthropy prior to creating the Bia-Echo Foundation. Shanahan used Brin’s foundation to fund initiatives in the same issue areas to which Bia-Echo now contributes. 13 14

CodeX Research

Shanahan is a research fellow at CodeX, the Stanford Center for Legal Informatics. Her “Smart Prosecution” research project experiments with the application of data science to the prosecutorial process with the help of partnering district attorneys, community organizations, and police departments. 15 16

Her research is also engaged with Ronald Coase’s transaction cost theory, which she employs in theorizing about the effects artificial intelligence will have on the legal system and the government at large. 17

Activities

In January 2022, Brin filed for divorce from Shanahan due to “irreconcilable differences” as well as rumors that Shanahan had previously engaged in an affair with SpaceX founder Elon Musk. According to the Wall Street Journal, Shanahan and Musk “engaged in a brief affair” in 2021 although both denied these rumors. By 2023, the divorce proceedings were finalized between the two parties. 18

In March 2024, Independent Presidential Candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. announced that Shanahan would be his running mate for the 2024 presidential election. Previously, in February 2024 she had reportedly donated $4 million to a pro-RFK Jr. Super PAC towards a campaign ad, which she helped produce, that played during the year’s Super Bowl broadcast. 19 During the same rally she was announced as RFK Jr.’s running mate, she announced she was “leaving the Democratic Party” after claiming Democrats had, “lost their way.” 20

References

  1. Schaefer, Peder. “55 Things You Need to Know About Nicole Shanahan.” Politico, March 26, 2024. https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2024/03/26/nicole-shanahan-rfk-jr-2024-bio-00149015
  2. “Areas of Investment.” Bia Echo Foundation, August 10, 2020. https://biaecho.org/#areasofinvestment.
  3.  Nathan, Sara. “Google Founder Sergey Brin Marries Nicole Shanahan.” Page Six. Page Six, October 3, 2019. https://pagesix.com/2019/10/02/google-founder-sergey-brin-marries-nicole-shanahan/.
  4. Jones, Laura Eckstein. “Nicole Shanahan Is Fighting The Good Fight.” San Francisco Magazine, May 19, 2021. https://sanfran.com/nicole-shanahan-interview-cover-story.
  5. “Nicole Shanahan.” Stanford Law School. Accessed September 15, 2021. https://law.stanford.edu/directory/nicole-shanahan/.
  6.  Jones, Laura Eckstein. “Nicole Shanahan Is Fighting The Good Fight.” San Francisco Magazine, May 19, 2021. https://sanfran.com/nicole-shanahan-interview-cover-story.
  7. “Areas of Investment.” Bia Echo Foundation, August 10, 2020. https://biaecho.org/#areasofinvestment.
  8.  “Los Angeles County, California, Measure J.” Ballotpedia. Accessed September 15, 2021. https://ballotpedia.org/Los_Angeles_County,_California,_Measure_J,_Budget_Allocation_for_Alternatives_to_Incarceration_Charter_Amendment_(November_2020).
  9. Jones, Laura Eckstein. “Nicole Shanahan Is Fighting The Good Fight.” San Francisco Magazine, May 19, 2021. https://sanfran.com/nicole-shanahan-interview-cover-story.
  10. Jones, Laura Eckstein. “Nicole Shanahan Is Fighting The Good Fight.” San Francisco Magazine, May 19, 2021. https://sanfran.com/nicole-shanahan-interview-cover-story.
  11. Jones, Laura Eckstein. “Nicole Shanahan Is Fighting The Good Fight.” San Francisco Magazine, May 19, 2021. https://sanfran.com/nicole-shanahan-interview-cover-story.
  12. “Nicole Shanahan.” Stanford Law School. Accessed September 15, 2021. https://law.stanford.edu/directory/nicole-shanahan/.
  13. “Nicole Shanahan.” Bia Echo Foundation, January 21, 2020. https://biaecho.org/project/nicole-shanahan/.
  14. “Nicole Shanahan.” Bia Echo Foundation, January 21, 2020. https://biaecho.org/project/nicole-shanahan/.
  15. “Nicole Shanahan.” Stanford Law School. Accessed September 15, 2021. https://law.stanford.edu/directory/nicole-shanahan/.
  16. “Nicole Shanahan.” Bia Echo Foundation, January 21, 2020. https://biaecho.org/project/nicole-shanahan/.
  17. “Nicole Shanahan.” Bia Echo Foundation, January 21, 2020. https://biaecho.org/project/nicole-shanahan/.
  18. Schaefer, Peder. “55 Things You Need to Know About Nicole Shanahan.” Politico, March 26, 2024. https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2024/03/26/nicole-shanahan-rfk-jr-2024-bio-00149015
  19. Pellish, Aaron. “Who is Nicole Shanahan, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s vice presidential pick?” CNN, March 26, 2024. https://www.cnn.com/2024/03/26/politics/nicole-shanahan-vp-rfk-jr/index.html
  20. Pellish, Aaron. “Who is Nicole Shanahan, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s vice presidential pick?” CNN, March 26, 2024. https://www.cnn.com/2024/03/26/politics/nicole-shanahan-vp-rfk-jr/index.html
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