Sergey Brin may have a big payday coming ...

Attention Sergey Brin: Stanford University owes you $381.99 in back wages.

Mark Zuckerberg? Paypal is holding $308.62 for you in a very old account.

And Meg Whitman, you’ve still got a credit for $146.14 at Tiffany’s.

As windfalls go, the amounts are tiny compared to the fortunes currently held by each of these tech billionaires. Still, you never know when a little spare cash might come in handy.

Each of these sums was discovered recently in the state of California’s “unclaimed property” database by quantitative analyst Christopher Long – who crunches stats for the Houston Rockets in his day job and writes about all kinds of numerical wonders on his “Angry Statistician” blog. (All credit to BetaBeat blogger Jessica Roy for shining a light on Long’s findings.)

Like many states, California maintains a public registry of unclaimed assets that banks and other financial institutions are required to report annually to the state controller’s office. The list includes all sums of money and other property “after there has been no activity on the account or contact with the owner for a period of time specified in the law – generally (3) three years or more.”

Long says he thought it would be fun to plug some well-known names into the California database, and he turned up some interesting results.

For example, you wouldn’t think Stanford would have to go very far to hand over the back wages it owes Brin. The Google co-founder gave the university $2.5 million for an endowed chair in the physics department just three years ago. Brin did some work for the university back in the late 1990s, when he was a grad student known for roller-blading through the halls of academia, soon to team up with fellow student Larry Page on a project that revolutionized the Internet.

As for Zuckerberg, there’s no telling why he apparently didn’t use up the funds in an old PayPal account. But the company listed his address as a house in Los Altos where Zuckerberg lived for a few months in 2004 – a time when Zuck was pretty busy working on getting Facebook off the ground.

It’s just as much a mystery why the state of Pennsylvania owes $408.75 to Elon Musk, although the PayPal cofounder, who now runs Tesla Motors and SpaceX, earned two degrees from the University of Pennsylvania back in the 1990s, before moving to California to pursue a still-uncompleted Ph.D. at Stanford.

Along with Whitman’s unused credit at Tiffany’s, Long also found that Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak has $269 coming to him from the California State Automobile Association.

(Sergey Brin photo credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

 

Brandon Bailey Brandon Bailey (326 Posts)

Brandon Bailey covers Google, Facebook and Yahoo for the San Jose Mercury News, reporting on the business and culture of the Internet.