Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous: New Year’s Edition

While you were tearing into your neatly packaged gifts last weekend, Netscape cofounder Jim Clark and his glamorous fiancée, Kristy Hinze, were greeting friends at their engagement party at a mansion in Point Piper, an affluent harbor town east of Sydney, Australia.

Unfortunately, for the couple, they were also swatting back Australian paparazzi, who are as seemingly obsessed Hinze, an Australian model and actress, as we are with Jennifer Aniston. According to Australia’s Daily Telegraph, despite a small invite list and the last-minute text message that directed invitees to the party just hours before it began — a number of photographers arrived in time to capture the A list guests.

Meanwhile, at Google’s holiday party, employees were apparently abuzz over what may be the imminent departure of Marissa Mayer, the company’s fourth-most-famous staffer after Larry, Sergey, and Eric Schmidt. Mayer, who joined Google in 1999 after graduating from Stanford’s computer science department, quickly rose to her current position of VP of Search Product and User Experience. Indeed, as Google’s 19th employee, Mayer, who’s worth hundreds of millions of dollars, could have left long ago and it wouldn’t have surprised anyone.

Whether Mayer embarks on a new adventure in 2009 remains to be seen. Valleywag reported in earlier December that Mayer is newly engaged to be married. It also suggests that there’s been too little turnover in the very highest ranks of Google for Mayer to rise further than she has.

Either way, it’d be hard to imagine Mayer not needing an entirely new challenge at this point in her life. Ten years at any company is an eternity for a young thirtysomething. Ten years at the same Silicon Valley company can be even more challenging, especially for someone with Mayer’s cred.

Not last, while everyone was talking this weekend about the performance of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway shares — they ended 2008 down a staggering 32 percent, their worst performance in 30 years — the billionaire investor still had reason to celebrate this past weekend. He bet $224 million that Florida wouldn’t be socked by major-league thunderstorms in 2008, agreeing to pay up to $4 billion in catastrophe bonds to pay for storm recovery otherwise. That bet paid off.