Tech billionaire Jan Koum, the co-founder of WhatsApp, has reportedly expanded his already impressive real estate portfolio by purchasing Quibi founder Jeffrey Katzenberg’s Beverly Hills mansion for a whopping $125million.
The sale was announced last month, making it the third most expensive real estate transaction in California’s history.
It was reported at the time that the buyers were a family from the UK, with homes in London and Aspen, Colorado, but Variety has now revealed, citing multiple sources, that the real owner is the 44-year-old Ukrainian-born Koum, who co-founded WhatsApp with Brian Acton in 2009.
Home, sweet home: This sprawling mansion in Beverly Hills was purchased last month by WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum for a whopping $125million
The Ukrainian-born Koum, 44, sold WhatsApp to Facebook for $19.3billion in 2014 (pictured in January 2018 at Computer History Museum in California)
Katzenberg, the former CEO of Dreamworks, made a huge return on the property, having paid $35million for the plot in 2009 to a retired physicist, before erecting a 26,000-square-foot mansion boasting five bedrooms and 13 bathrooms just three years later, the LA Times reported.
Having been sold off-market, details about the property are scant. However, aerial photos show the U-shaped home comes equipped with a tree-lined driveway, a spacious backyard, formal gardens and a large infinity swimming pool with breathtaking vistas.
Spanning nearly seven acres, the home overlooks the historic Tudor Revival-style Greystone Mansion and the Sunset Strip.
Katzenberg made a huge return on the property having paid $30 million for the plot in 2009, before erecting a 26,000 square-foot mansion on it just three years later, the LA Times reported
Koum, who made his colossal fortune by selling his international messaging app to Facebook for $19.3billion in 2014, owns two other mega-mansions in California with a total value of nearly $200million, in additional to at least three smaller properties in Atherton, Hillsborough and Burlingame, California.
According to reporting by Variety, one of Koum’s real estate holdings is an elaborate warehouse that he uses to store some of his Porsches and his two superyachts.
Koum’s current net worth, according to Forbes, is close to $10billion. He has been dating his 28-year-old Ukrainian supermodel girlfriend Evelina Mambetova since 2014.
The deep-pocketed entrepreneur made headlines last year when he bought NBC Vice-Chairman Ron Meyer’s Malibu compound for $100million.
The five-bedroom, six-bathroom home has a pool overlooking Paradise Cove, a tennis court, a two-story library, a movie room and several lawns sitting on a 13,693-square-foot plot of land.
Aerial photos show the U-shaped five-bedroom, 13-bath home comes equipped with a tree-lined driveway, a spacious backyard, formal gardens and a large infinity swimming pool with breathtaking vistas
Earlier this year, Koum sued his neighbor, Diana Jenkins, a friend of Kim Kardashian West, accusing her of trimming $70,000 worth of his hedges because they obstructed her ocean views.
According to the complaint, when a Black security guard working for Koum tried to intervene and stop Jenkins’ gardeners from cutting the trees, the woman allegedly engaged in aggressive, racially prejudiced ‘Karen’-type behavior and threatened to call the police on the guard.
The sale of Katzenberg’s mansion to Koum last month, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, comes as one of the priciest in the state’s history – topped only by Jeff Bezos’ $165million purchase of the Warner estate earlier this year, and Lachlan Murdoch’s $150million splurge on Bel Air’s ‘Beverly Hillbillies’ mansion in 2019.
In 2019, Koum purchased NBC Vice-Chairman Ron Meyer’s Malibu compound for $100million (pictured)
The five-bedroom, six-bathroom home has a pool overlooking Paradise Cove, a tennis court and a two-story library
Katzenberg and his wife Mary were said to have ‘been looking to downsize for some time, and received an offer they couldn’t refuse,’ a spokesperson for the 69-year-old told the Journal.
‘They will stay in the house for another six months, and plan to remain in the immediate neighborhood.’
The deal was brokered by Kurt Rappaport of Westside Estate Agency, who represented both sides of the transaction.
Records show the home was previously owned by Simon Ramo, an American physicist who helped to develop the microwave and intercontinental ballistic missiles.
After buying the property more than a decade ago, Katzenberg hired architect Howard Backed to build a home from scratch.
Katzenberg, who is worth more than $900million, spent more than a decade as chairman of Walt Disney Studios before co-founding DreamWorks Animation with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen.
He left his position as chief executive of the studio in 2016 to lead the media and tech company WndrCo, before founding Quibi in 2018.
The app, focused on bite-sized consumption and designed for those who only want to digest five- to ten-minute episodes at a time, launched to a disastrous reception in April.
It quickly dropped to 125th place in the rankings of free iPhone apps and was forced to scramble to allow for TV streaming.
Koum lives with his 28-year-old supermodel girlfriend Evelina Mambetova. The two have been together since 2014
Katzenberg blamed the app’s lackluster start on the coronavirus pandemic.
Its launch came as millions of people were under a stay-at-home order and confined to their houses, altering the way in which they may have streamed content during the day, and eliminating many of the ‘in-between moments’ – such as commuting – in which the company believed users would want to stream their shows.
‘I attribute everything that has gone wrong to coronavirus. Everything. But we own it,’ Katzenberg said back in May.
‘Is it the avalanche of people that we wanted and were going for out of launch? The answer is no. It’s not up to what we wanted. It’s not close to what we wanted.’
Katzenberg and Quibi co-founder Meg Whitman, 63, the former Hewlett-Packard chief, had raised $1.8billion in funding for the app from Hollywood studios such as Disney and Warner Media as well as Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.
They’d also recruited high-profile names such as Chrissy Teigen, LeBron James, Jennifer Lopez and Idris Elba for their new TV shows and movies, promising up to three hours of original content daily.
DreamWorks co-founder Katzenberg came up with the idea for Quibi, while former Hewlett Packard boss, Meg Whitman, serves as CEO
Katzenberg spent more than a decade as chairman of Walt Disney Studios before co-founding DreamWorks Animation with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen
Quibi was predicted to sign up 7.4million subscribers in its first year which would create $250million in revenue. One source told WSJ that the company is projected to finish 2020 with less than just two million paying subscribers.
The app launched April 6 with a 90-day free trial offer in the United States and Canada. It otherwise costs $4.99 a month for an ad-supported version and $7.99 a month for ad-free viewing.
While 1.75million subscribed within the first week, Quibi had fallen out of the top 50 most downloaded iPhone apps a week after launch.
‘If we knew on March 1, which is when we had to make the call, what we know today, you would say that is not a good idea,’ he said.
‘The answer is, it’s regrettable. But we are making enough gold out of hay here that I don’t regret it.’
‘My hope, my belief was that there would still be many in-between moments while sheltering in place,’ Katzenberg added.
Quibi, focused on bite-sized consumption and designed for those who only want to digest five- to ten-minute episodes at a time, launched to a disastrous reception in April.
‘There are still those moments, but it’s not the same. It’s out of sync.’
While Katzenberg has placed most of the blame on the shutdowns, the app also met with some major hiccups within the first few weeks of its launch, as it emerged that the company had given away its customers’ email addresses without their knowledge.
‘As soon as we heard about it, we fixed it,’ Katzenberg said.
Quibi is now exploring several options including a possible sale to Amazon or Alphabet Inc, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing people familiar with the matter.
The video service is considering raising more money or going public through a merger.
While Katzenberg’s business woes may continue to persist, the movie mogul has enjoyed a lot of success in the real-estate market in recent years – with his latest sale by far his greatest.
The Katzenbergs sold a 9,000 square-foot mansion in Beverly Hills for $9.2 million in Beverly Hills in 2012.
Last year, the couple also offloaded their 14,100-square-foot vacation home in the Utah mountains.
The incredible $125million sale of their Beverly Hills home comes as the latest mammoth deal in Southern California this summer.
In June, business magnate David Geffen parted ways with a cool $68 million to land the modern Beverly Hills mansion owned by Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee president Casey Wasserman.
Earlier this week, it was also revealed that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle had paid $14.6 million for a seven acre estate in Mentecito.