Google Mentor Dead in Freak Swimming Accident
By Drew Nelles,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 7, 2009 3:43 PM CDT

(Newser) – A Stanford computer science professor who mentored Google's founders has drowned in his swimming pool, the San Jose Mercury News reports. Rajeev Motwani, 47, who could not swim, drowned at his Atherton, Calif., home, leaving a wife, two daughters, and many admirers in Silicon Valley. “It's a rare combination to have somebody who is so smart and also such a nice guy,” said Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

Born in India, Motwani earned a doctorate at University of California-Berkeley before teaching at Stanford. Known as a friendly adviser to hundreds of students, he developed data-mining techniques that paved the way for e-commerce and search engines. "People, when they speak to him, soon their vague and fuzzy ideas get transformed into crisp articulations," said a fellow Stanford prof. "It's a rare gift."