As New York’s rapidly expanding tech sector gobbles up increasing large swaths of prime office space, much of the focus on tech real estate has been on what kind of office space those companies are taking.
But this month, The Real Deal looked at where some of New York’s most savvy and powerful tech personalities are pitching their tents. Not surprisingly, Downtown and Brooklyn neighborhoods — where bars and restaurants abound — proved most popular.
Napster and Facebook cofounder Sean Parker has tried to distance himself from Justin Timberlake’s depiction of him as a self-obsessed party boy in the 2010 film “The Social Network,” calling the character a “morally reprehensible human being” at a 2011 conference. But Bacchus House — his Greenwich Village bachelor pad, which features an indoor pool, a private parking garage and an entire New York subway car — isn’t helping him avoid comparisons. Parker purchased the 40 West 10th Street townhouse in 2010 for $20 million, according to real estate website StreetEasy. Michael Pellegrino of Sotheby’s International Realty brokered the deal between Parker and the seller, Enrico Cinzano, who owns of a brand of vermouth. Still, the New York Post reported last month that his fiancée is six months pregnant. So perhaps fatherhood may help him shake his bad boy image. Pellegrino declined to comment on the deal.
Google made a splash in NYC with its $1.8 billion purchase of 111 Eighth Avenue in late 2010. And last month, the Wall Street Journal reported that because it’s squeezed for space in its new building, it leased another 94,000 square feet across the street at Chelsea Market, where it already has office space. But before the tech giant sets up shop in Manhattan, billionaire company cofounder Sergey Brin had already secured a prime piece of city real estate in Greenwich Village. In 2008, Brin and his wife, Anne Wojcicki, bought a 3,457-square-foot duplex condo at 744 Greenwich Street for $8.5 million from Bill Brady, managing director of Credit Suisse First Boston. The four-bedroom apartment features a limestone bath with heated floors and a master suite with a 23-foot balcony. Google declined to comment and calls to Stribling & Associates’ Laurie Silverman, the listing broker, were not returned.
Gideon Gartner, the CEO and founder of Gartner, a Stamford, Conn.–based global technology research firm that advises over 12,000 organizations on technology-related matters, keeps his primary residence in Aspen, Colo., but that hasn’t kept him from purchasing several high-end properties in the New York metropolis. TRD reported in August that Gartner sold his 5,000-square-foot, 56th-floor penthouse in the Millennium Tower, located at 101 West 67th Street, for $20.75 million — a record for the building, Howard Margolis of Prudential Douglas Elliman told TRD at the time. Margolis and Raphael De Niro, also of Elliman, represented Gartner in the deal. In July, Gartner paid $9.15 million for a 2,946-square-foot unit in the Metropolitan Tower at 146 West 57th Street, public records show.
Media entrepreneur and Facebook cofounder Christopher Hughes turned heads this year after purchasing the majority stake in the New Republic and becoming the magazine’s publisher and editor-in-chief. In the wake of Hughes’s takeover, TNR opened a 3,750-square-foot NYC office just above Madison Square Park at 60 Madison Avenue. But Hughes, like many tech moguls, calls Downtown home. Hughes purchased a 4,164-square-foot apartment at 30 Crosby Street in Soho with husband Sean Eldridge for $4.8 million in 2010, according to public records. Corcoran Group broker Julie Pham, who handled the sale, declined to comment. But according to the listing, the massive one-room loft is divided by a row of wood columns, complimented by exposed brick walls and antique wood floors. The couple also owns an estate in Garrison, N.Y., according to the New York Times.
In 2005, Alexis Ohanian cofounded Reddit.com, the hugely popular social-news site. Since then, the site has been acquired by Condé Nast for an undisclosed amount of money, attracted a site-crashing interview with President Barack Obama, and grown to 3.4 billion page views for the month of August, an 8.8 percent increase from 3.1 billion the previous month. Ohanian lives in Brooklyn Heights, where he continues to work for various tech start-ups and counts real estate titan Elizabeth Stribling as a neighbor. In 2011, according to public records, he purchased a two-bedroom, 1,385-square-foot unit in One Brooklyn Bridge Park at 360 Furman Street for $1.24 million.
Dennis Crowley made his name cofounding location-based mobile social networking sites Dodgeball (now defunct) and Foursquare. And, like a growing number of techies, Crowley has chosen Soho (568 Broadway) for Foursquare’s headquarters. But according to public records, he lives in a two-bedroom co-op at 303 East 8th Street in the East Village. He purchased his pad back in 2007 for $1.15 million, according to public records.
Frederick Wilson is the blogger and venture capitalist responsible for both Flatiron Partners, a firm that invested in many dot-com, bubble-era start-ups, and Union Square Ventures, a firm with investments in Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare and 10gen — a software company that provides production support for the document-oriented database MongoDB. TRD previously reported that in 2007, Wilson sold his 55-foot-wide Greenwich Village townhouse, located at 11 West 10th Street, for $34.5 million to Stuart Coleman, comanaging partner at the law firm Stroock, Stroock & Lavan — a record price for a Downtown townhouse at the time. More recently, Wilson purchased the penthouse at 397 West 12th Street for $13 million. According to public records, the deal closed in January 2010.
The text, image and video sharing website Tumblr revolutionized the aesthetics of blogging, transforming dull blocks of text into glittery, photo-jammed morsels. Standing behind the 77.2 million blogs hosted on the site is David Karp. Karp runs Tumblr out of his 21,000-square-foot office at 35 East 21st Street, but he calls Williamsburg home. Early this year, he bought a 1,286-square-foot, two-bedroom unit in the Esquire Building, located at 330 Wythe Avenue, for $1.6 million, according to public records.
Back in 1975, Paul Allen cofounded Microsoft with Bill Gates, later becoming the 48th richest person in the world, according to Forbes’s 2012 ranking. Post-Microsoft, Allen invests in technology and real estate, including the Lenox Hill penthouse he calls home. Allen purchased his co-op unit at 4 East 66th Street adjacent to Central Park last year for $25 million, according to public records. Allen already owns an 11th-floor apartment in the co-op that he picked up back in 1996 for $13.5 million, according to the New York Observer. The Observer also noted that the building’s roster of well-known residents includes Ace Greenberg, the former CEO of Bear Stearns who sits on the building’s co-op board, oil tycoon Sid Bass and Iraqi financier Ezra Zilkha. More famously, Allen owns a multibuilding complex on Seattle’s Mercer Island, which includes six mansions, a fitness center and a ballroom, among other amenities.