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Rich NorCal Techies Are Going Nuts Buying SoCal Mansions

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If you're a tech superstar who's made gajillions of dollars off of other people's data (or whatever), of course the next logical step is to come to Los Angeles to be among the real stars. (Here is a social media agent from UTA: "There is a feeling that techies are the new celebrities ... When I arrived in Hollywood, everybody had written a screenplay ... Now, everyone has an app." Yuck.) So this Silicon Beach thing is for real--all the tech companies are following Google to Venice or YouTube to Playa Vista and tech moguls are financing movies and buying gajillion dollar houses and hahaha, there's no bubble! Anyway, the Wall Street Journal dives into this crazy phenomenon of Silicon Valleyers moving down south--we already know that Oracle CEO Larry Ellison owns something like half of Malibu (27 properties and 9 houses on Carbon Beach alone), that PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel bought a Paul Williams-designed house above the Strip earlier this year, and that the Facebook-suing Winklevii now own a place in the Hills. Here's the other gossip we picked up:

-- Facebookers love the beach: the company's head of market development paid $10.9 million for a modern house in Manhattan Beach and now uses his old bungalow up the beach "to house Facebook employees visiting from up north." Meanwhile, an unnamed exec paid $6.8 million for a house in Malibu this year.

-- Old school companies like the old school 'hoods. Gateway's cofounder paid $14 million for a Mediterranean in Bel Air this year and a former Microsofter paid $11.5 million for a house in Holmby Hills (she "is currently remodeling the seven-bedroom home, adding a wine cellar and a cabana for the pool"). A current Microsoft vice president "owns a Beverly Hills house where Quentin Tarantino filmed 'Pulp Fiction.'"

-- One undisputable data point showing the shift from actor/TV/singer-type stars to founder stars: the founder of Ooma, an internet-telephone company, bought a Bel Air house from Nick Lachey that was previously owned by Heidi Klum and Seal.

-- Elon Musk, the guy behind PayPal, Tesla Motors, and Space X, "is in contract to buy the roughly the $20 million Bel-Air house he has been renting—a 20,000-square-foot estate on a private knoll with a home theater, library, lighted tennis court, gym, pool and 1,000-bottle wine cellar."

-- Ex-Googlers Sonya and Douglas Merrill bought one of Bela Lugosi's many former homes in the Hills. They paid $2.8 million and spent a year doing a reno.

-- There seems to be something real going on with the market out in SaMo and Venice, although it's probably attributable to any number of factors. Prices were up 16 percent in Santa Monica in the first eight months of 2012 over the same period in 2011 (when they'd gone down 9 percent). Median prices in Venice jumped above $1 million in the first eight months of 2012--from $899,000 in the first eight months of 2011 to $1.012 million. In the rest of the county, median prices were only up by 1 percent.

-- Meanwhile, on the rental market, the head of Westside Rentals says rents in Santa Monica and Venice are up 10 percent over the last year and a half ("compared with other desirable areas such as Beverly Hills and Culver City, where he says rents increased by about 4% to 5%").

-- Silicon Valley buyers are kind of know-it-alls: "Broker Mauricio Umansky recalls a moment earlier this year when he was showing several homes in the Hollywood Hills to an entrepreneur visiting from Northern California. 'I was telling him that houses in the neighborhood sell for $1,000 per [square] foot. He interrupted me and said, "No, they sell for $936 per foot." He was testing me.'" Umansky still sold that guy an $8 million house in the Hills though.
· Tech Titans Hit the Beach [WSJ]
· Silicon Beach Archives [Curbed LA]