WhatsApp Co-founder Jan Koum Pays $109 Million For Home Next Door
Share Button

WhatsApp Co-founder Jan Koum Pays $109 Million For Home Next Door

The clifftop property includes a funicular down to the ocean that was built by late country singer Kenny Rogers.

By Katherin Clarke
Wed, Feb 24, 2021 2:44amGrey Clock 2 min

Jan Koum, the co-founder of WhatsApp, is paying approx. $109 million for a Malibu, Calif. mansion right next door to one he already owns, according to two people familiar with the deal.

The transaction is the latest big-ticket deal for Mr Koum in the Los Angeles area. In 2019 he purchased the neighbouring Malibu property from entertainment executive Ron Meyer for around $126 million. Then last year Mr Koum spent approx. $157 million for the Beverly Hills estate of Quibi founder Jeffrey Katzenberg.

The seller in the latest transaction is Diana Jenkins, a Bosnia-born entrepreneur and philanthropist. Ms Jenkins, founder of health-drinks company Neuro Drinks, was previously married to British financier Roger Jenkins. Her home came on the market last May for US$125 million, The Wall Street Journal reported. It is on Malibu’s Paradise Cove, and its prior owners include Barry Diller and the late country singer Kenny Rogers.

Sitting on a cliff top, the property has its own funicular leading down to the ocean (Mr Rogers was slapped with a US$2 million fine by local authorities for installing it.). On nearly 3 acres, it includes a single-story, five-bedroom house with vaulted ceilings, herringbone floors and floor-to-ceiling windows that open onto the gardens. It also has a dance studio and a recording studio. On the grounds, there is a three-bedroom guesthouse, a swimming pool, a waterfall and koi pond, a sports court and a guard house.

The funicular leads an oceanfront cabana, which has retractable ceilings, a wet bar, a built-in barbecue and fire pit.

Mr Koum, 44 helped launch WhatsApp, an internet messaging service, in 2009. Following the service’s acquisition by Facebook in 2014, he remained as a Facebook director for several years before stepping down in 2018. The Bloomberg Billionaires Index pegs his net worth at $15.7 billion.

Chris Cortazzo of Compass has the listing. The buyer was represented by Kurt Rappaport of Westside Estate Agency.



MOST POPULAR

What a quarter-million dollars gets you in the western capital.

Alexandre de Betak and his wife are focusing on their most personal project yet.

Related Stories
Property
China’s Housing Market Woes Deepen Despite Stimulus
By REBECCA FENG 18/06/2024
Property
I.M. Pei’s Son Speaks of His Father’s Legacy of Creating ‘Places for People’ Ahead of a Retrospective in Hong Kong
By ABBY SCHULTZ 12/06/2024
Property
THE EAST COAST CAPITAL SETTING THE PACE IN THE AUSTRALIAN REAL ESTATE MARKET
By Robyn Willis 06/06/2024

Home prices declined at a faster pace in May in major cities, while other data show a mixed picture for the world’s second-largest economy

By REBECCA FENG
Tue, Jun 18, 2024 3 min

China’s broken housing market isn’t responding to some of the country’s boldest stimulus measures to date—at least not yet.

The Chinese government has been stepping up support for housing and other industries in recent months as it tries to revitalize an economy that has  continued to disappoint  since the early days of the pandemic.

But fresh data for May showed that businesses and consumers remain cautious. Home prices continue to fall at an accelerating rate, and fixed-asset investment and industrial production, while growing, lost some momentum.

“China’s May economic data suggest that policymakers have a lot to do to sustain the fragile recovery,” Yao Wei, chief China economist at Société Générale, wrote in a client note on Monday.

The worst pain is in the property sector, which has been struggling to deal with oversupply and weak buyer sentiment since 2021, when a multiyear  housing boom ended . The market still doesn’t appear to have found a floor, even after Beijing rolled out its most aggressive stimulus measures so far  in mid-May  in hopes of restoring confidence.

In major cities, new-home prices fell 4.3% in May compared with a year earlier, worse than a   3.5% decline in April, according to data released Monday by China’s National Bureau of Statistics. Prices in China’s secondhand home market tumbled 7.5%, compared with a 6.8% drop in April.

Home sales by value tumbled 30.5% in the first five months of this year compared with the same months last year.

“This data was certainly on the disappointing side and may ring some alarm bells, as May’s policy support package has not yet translated to a slower decline of housing prices, let alone a stabilisation,” said Lynn Song, chief China economist at ING.

Economists had also been hoping to see a wider recovery this month after Beijing started  rolling out  a planned issuance of 1 trillion yuan, the equivalent of $138 billion, in ultra-long sovereign bonds in May. The funds are designed to help pay for infrastructure and property projects backed by the authorities. Investors  gobbled up  the first batch of these bonds.

Monday’s bundle of economic data, however, underlined how the country still isn’t firing on all cylinders.

Retail sales, a key metric of consumer spending, rose 3.7% in May from a year earlier, compared with 2.3% in April, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. While the trend is heading in the right direction, it is still a relatively subdued level of growth, and below what most economists believe is needed to kick-start a major revival in consumer spending.

The expansion in industrial production—5.6% in May compared with a year earlier—was down from April’s 6.7% increase. Fixed-asset investment growth, of which 40% came from property and infrastructure sectors, also decelerated, to 3.5% year-over-year growth in May from 3.6% in April.

Key to the sluggish economic activity data in May—and China’s outlook going forward—is the crisis in the property market, which has proven hard for policymakers to address.

The property rescue package in May included letting local governments buy up unsold homes, removing minimum interest rates on mortgages, and reducing payments for potential home buyers. It also included as its centerpiece a $41 billion so-called re-lending program launched by the People’s Bank of China, which would provide funding to Chinese banks to support home purchases by state-owned firms.

The hope was that by stepping in as a buyer of last resort for millions of properties, the government would manage to mop up unsold housing inventory and persuade wary home buyers to re-enter the market. In turn, Chinese consumers, who have  most of their wealth  tied up in real estate, would feel more confident about spending again, thereby lifting the overall economy.

But the size of the re-lending program wasn’t big enough to convince home buyers, said Larry Hu , chief China economist at Macquarie Group. “Meanwhile, their income outlook also stays weak given the current economic condition,” he said.

For the property market to bottom out and reach a new equilibrium, mortgage rates, which stand at around 3-4% in China, need to be as low as rental yields, which are currently below 2% in major cities, said Zhaopeng Xing, a senior China strategist at ANZ. He said that a large mortgage rate cut will need to happen eventually.

The other key part of China’s push to revive growth revolves around the manufacturing sector, with leaders  funnelling more investment  into factories to boost output and reduce the country’s reliance on foreign suppliers of key technologies.

The result has been a surge in production. But with domestic consumption not strong enough to absorb all those goods, many factories have been forced to cut prices and seek out more overseas buyers.

Data released earlier this month showed that  Chinese exports rose  faster in May than the month before.

However, the export push is  butting into resistance  as governments around the world worry about the impact of cheap Chinese competition on domestic jobs and industries. The European Union last week said it would  impose new import tariffs  on Chinese electric vehicles, describing China’s auto industry as heavily subsidised by the government, to the point where other countries’ automakers can’t fairly compete.

The U.S.  has also hit  Chinese cars and some other products with hefty duties, while countries including Brazil, India and Turkey have opened antidumping investigations into Chinese steel, chemicals and other goods.

Beijing says such moves are protectionist and that its industries compete fairly with global rivals.