Zuckerberg joins the silicon slickers with new $7m super home


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The Independent US

Status update: Mark Zuckerberg has bought his first McMansion.

According to local newspapers, the world's youngest billionaire recently spent $7m (£4.2m) on a crash pad in Palo Alto, a 10-minute drive in his eco-friendly Acura from Facebook's soon-to-be-opened headquarters in Silicon Valley.

The 5,000sq ft pile may lack what readers of a snobbish persuasion would describe as "character", but it does boast features commensurate with its 26-year-old owner's status. In addition to five bedrooms and five bathrooms, there's a saltwater pool, glassed-in sunroom, and planet-destroying outdoor fireplace.

Until now, Mr Zuckerberg has lived remarkably modestly, renting a sparsely furnished starter home near the office where he spends roughly 16 hours a day. Last year, Oprah Winfrey was allowed inside, revealing that at least some of his furniture was sourced from Ikea. On her grand tour, the chat-show host persuaded Mr Zuckerberg to perform an awkward kiss with Priscilla Chan, the girlfriend he met at Harvard and who still shares his life. The music "alcove" at the new Zuckerberg residence, which the couple will move into during the coming months, contains her favourite instrument: a grand piano.

With a net worth estimated at $13bn and rising, Mr Zuckerberg could live more grandly. But ostentation has never been his style. In fact, this property investment is believed to have been largely motivated by concerns about security, rather than a sudden appetite for setting down domestic roots.

The address of Mr Zuckerberg's previous rented property was widely known, and its front door was accessible from the street. Four months ago, he was forced to take out a restraining order against a male stalker who turned up on his doorstep with a note saying: "I am ready to die for you. Please, Mark, please!"

Geek Chic: Dream homes of the techno tycoons

If one of Britain's national pastimes is sneering about the vulgarity of homes owned by footballers, American property "porn" revolves around gawping at photos of vast residences inhabited by film stars or tech billionaires.

Of the two groups, it is the geeks whose real estate holdings make the more intriguing viewing. Members of this social class, who boast almost unlimited wealth, build dream homes in a mirror image of the companies that created their fortune. To that end, the Bill Gates residence is huge, worth roughly $150m and somewhat nerdish.

Nicknamed "Xanadu 2.0", it sits by a lake near Seattle, and contains a domestic computer system which uses pin badges worn by inhabitants to adjust heating, light levels and background music to suit the taste of whoever happens to be in a particular room.

When it's finished, the home of Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, will be like an Apple Mac next to Gates's PC. Situated in Woodside, one of the most exclusive towns in Silicon Valley, architect's drawings leaked last year reveal that it will be relatively small (five bedrooms), but sleek and minimalist in style, with a network of lighted walkways through its six acres of grounds. The home's lone concession to luxury: an "ensuite" bathroom off the main bedroom which contains two toilets.

No such restraint affects Larry Ellison, the squillionaire founder of Oracle. Residences include a 454ft yacht (the world's longest privately owned boat), and a 33-acre estate in Atherton, California, modelled on the city of Kyoto. It has koi ponds and tea houses, an earthquake-proof lake, and buildings that were constructed to traditional Japanese standards, without the use of nails.

Paul Allen, the Microsoft co-founder and a naturally shy computer programmer, has been using his fortune to move in more glamorous circles. He recently bought a $25m second home on Carbon Beach in Malibu, the so-called "Billionaires' Beach" where neighbours include Hollywood moguls Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen. It measures 5,800sq ft and has five bedrooms, pool, gym and screening room.

Zuckerberg's pad also reflects his personal and corporate ethos. It is understated and relatively anonymous, perfect for a man whose identity revolves around a virtual network.