Mark Zuckerberg has come a long way from the days when he crashed in a tiny apartment with little more than a mattress on the floor and dial-up Internet access.
The 26-year-old billionaire Facebook founder has bought a $7-million, 5,600-square-foot house in Palo Alto with five bedrooms including a master suite with Carrara marble, a banquet-size dinning room and a music alcove. Set back from the street, the remodeled turn-of-the-20th-century house has a saltwater pool and an outdoor pavilion with a fireplace.
The house, which sits on a 17,000-square-foot lot with citrus trees to shield the property — and, according to the real estate listing, a "croquet-worthy" lawn — is just a 10-minute drive from what will soon be Facebook's new headquarters in Menlo Park.
It may be one of the largest purchases by Zuckerberg, who is known for his aversion to the usual trappings of wealth.
Facebook has been valued at more than $50 billion, and Forbes magazine estimates Zuckerberg's personal wealth at $6.9 billion, making him the 35th-wealthiest American. Yet for years Zuckerberg, who turns 27 on May 14, rented smaller, more modest houses for himself and college sweetheart Priscilla Chan that he found on Craigslist.
Even with this big purchase, Zuckerberg is still living below his means — he drives an Acura because it's safe and not ostentatious and cites "minimalism" and "eliminating desire" as interests on his Facebook profile — and below the standards of some other Silicon Valley technology leaders.
Oracle Corp. Chairman Larry Ellison has a palatial estate in Woodside modeled after a Japanese emperor's 16th century country residence and an airy mansion in the ritzy Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco. Russian billionaire financier Yuri Milner, an investor in Facebook, recently bought a 25,500-square-foot French chateau-style mansion in Los Altos Hills for $100 million, one of the highest prices paid for a single-family home in the United States.
Zuckerberg's decision to settle down in Palo Alto has quickly become the talk of the town. Neighbors say Zuckerberg, like Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs, who also lives in Palo Alto, seems to be attempting to play down his status as a Web celeb and fit into the neighborhood he now plans to call his own.
Asked how he felt about having the Facebook billionaire move in, Kenneth Regenos, a retired aerospace engineer who for 45 years has lived on the street of Zuckerberg's new home, said: "We'll be happy to have him here."
Regenos described a neighborhood that is friendly but not that friendly. "Generally people do know who lives next door and across the street and say hello, but that's about it," Regenos said. He recalled that the most recent block party was held in 1976. "Everyone agreed we'd have to do it again," he said.
Facebook declined to comment on the purchase, which did not close under Zuckerberg's name. The Times is not publishing the address to protect the privacy of the sellers, who still live there, and Zuckerberg.
In January, Zuckerberg obtained a restraining order against a 31-year-old Milpitas man after alleging the man threatened his personal safety. The man allegedly came to the Facebook office and Zuckerberg's home asking for advice and money, one time leaving a note that read: "I am ready to die for you, please, Mark, please."
The purchase of the house, rumored in Palo Alto real estate circles for weeks, was first reported by the San Jose Mercury News.