SAN FRANCISCO -- Bonnie Brown was fresh from a nasty divorce in 1999, uncertain of her future. On a lark, she answered an ad for an in-house masseuse at Google, then a Silicon Valley startup with 40 employees. She was offered a $450-a-week part-time job, with a pile of Google stock options that she figured might never be worth a penny.
After five years of kneading engineers' backs, Brown retired, cashing in millions of dollars of stock options. The shares she held onto have continued to balloon in value.
"I'm happy I saved enough stock for a rainy day, and lately it's been pouring," said Brown, 52, who now lives in a 3,000-square-foot house in Nevada and gets her own massages at least once a week. She has traveled the world to oversee a charitable foundation she started with her Google wealth.
As the stock continues to defy gravity, Brown, whose foundation has its assets in Google stock, can be more generous with her charity. "It seems that every time I give some away, it just keeps filling up again," she said.