September 9, 2012

Communal Living or 24/7 Startup Incubator?

British publication Financial Times visits Cupertino and discovers Silicon Valley startups and salons… in a very expensive frat house.

Over the rainbow

Communal living is back in vogue, especially among Silicon Valley’s young technology workers

120908-group-dinnerBy April Dembosky, June 29, 2012 6:52 pm

At first glance Rainbow Mansion appears to blend in seamlessly alongside its high-end Silicon Valley neighbours, nestled among the eucalyptus trees and driveway gates of Cupertino, about an hour south of San Francisco. The salmon stucco stretches around multiple bedrooms, balconies and turrets. In the front yard, a stone footbridge arches over a bubbling koi pond.

Inside, it looks more like a university dorm. Bean bags and mismatched couches sit at odd angles in the living room. A former dining nook, now christened “the mystery room”, is lined with hippie-style Indian tapestries on the walls and mattresses on the floor.

Seven people live here, from the ivy league of Silicon Valley companies, such as Apple, Google and Tesla. They are from America, the UK, Serbia and Moldova. While none are blood related, they call each other family.

“We’re not a frat house,” says Mike Grace, 26, a lab manager and researcher at Nasa. “We’re an intentional community.”

Excuse us.  A very expensive intentional community.  As in $7300 a month expensive.  Let’s see what they get for $7300, besides the built-in tech networking with their housemates.

120908-group-zillow21677 Rainbow Dr
Cupertino, CA 95014

Zestimate $2,509,411
Rent Zestimate $7,435/mo
Est. Mortgage $8,923/mo

Beds: 6
Baths: 4.5
Sqft: 5,127
Lot: 55,321 sq ft / 1.27 acres
Type: Single Family
Year built: 1992

Description from Zillow: This 5127 square foot single family home has 6 bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms. It is located at 21677 Rainbow Dr Cupertino, California. The nearest schools are Regnart Elementary School, Kennedy Middle School and Monta Vista High School.

Wow, that rent Zestimate’s pretty bang on. Think Zillow’s model includes searching the Financial Times?

120908-group-website

120908-group-libraryIncidentally, the people renting the house have set up a website.  Note the third item on the ribbon: Press.  Several pieces have been written about this house, the sort of people who end up living here, and one the the successes launched from this very library.

Ever hear of OpenStack?  If you haven’t, Wired is happy to fix that, with its history of how it got started.  Yes, here at the Rainbow Mansion.  Oh yeah, and at NASA Ames.

NASA’s Chris Kemp decided that they needed scalable storage of their own rather than through their corporate partners.  Think Google Moon and Google Mars.  NASA has plenty of high-res space images, and they wanted to host them, but that meant they needed a new infrastructure.  And in bringing that project about, they not only crashed upon political shoals (a Congressional “inquiry”) but on the difficulty in creating open-source software when so many potential partners had commercial intents.  And eventually the project led to OpenStack… and several related cloud computing companies.

120908-group-frontThe founders of the group home explained that they started the house because Silicon Valley rents were high, so sharing a house was much less expensive.  Most of them were new NASA PhDs who came from elsewhere and knew each other through their academic connections.

People would leave, and new housemates needed to be brought in.  The residents are looking for people who want to change the world.

“Group living situations are not tremendously rare in the Bay Area,” he explains. “We have an unusually high percentage of rentals in part of because home buying is so tremendously expensive, and the leverage goes up as you get more people.

“What’s unusual is when you have a really intentional community, when you have a group of people who are determined to build something and really bring people together.”

Comments (5) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:20 am






December 11, 2011

NASA encouraging Commuter Airplanes: This means War!

imageDid you know that your tax dollars are subsidizing the possible destruction of the Real Bay Area as we know it?

NASA is offering a series of prizes to encourage Green Flight.  These “green” flying machines are called SAVs, or Suburban Air Vehicles, which would have either VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) or ESTOL (extremely short yadda yadda) abilities.  “Pocket airports,” which need be no larger than 2 acres, could be placed anywhere as the planes would have electric motors. 

Electric motors would be much quieter than gas motors, so there wouldn’t be the noise factor that you get from a conventional airport.  Think flying EVs.  Being close to a pocket airport could be not a location fail but a location win.  Heavily trafficked areas could have SAV taxis rather than leaving the plane parked all day. 

imageWhile this X-Prize approach to solving traffic problems might sound all ecological and high minded (ha ha), this is a threat to our entire way of life!  Realize what this would mean to home prices in the RBA

NASA is encouraging aircraft designs that could have a range of up to one thousand miles per battery charge.  That means the RBA could expand as far away as Montana!  After all, why is the RBA so Special?  It’s close to the great jobs.  And what keeps commutes from further afield long and painful?  Gridlocked traffic!  That’s why people pay the prices they do for Burbed-worthy habitation!

imageNot only that, Google has just stabbed us all in the back by being a major backer of the prize money!  The first stage of awards, totaling $1.65 million, were made possible by Google’s involvement.

According to a study done using patterns in Sonoma County, removing just 3500 vehicles a day from the Golden Gate Bridge and San Rafael Bridges would alleviate gridlock (see page 27, Sonoma-Marin County Commute Model, also the traffic study itself).  That means commutes would be less painful for the automobile drivers as well as those on these SAVs (which everyone knows stands for Suburban Assault Vehicle).

imageNot only that, imagine these damned miniplanes hogging the ChargeStation and leaving your Leaf or Volt stranded!  I tell you, Real Bay Areans, contact your Congresscritter and demand that NASA stop investing in technology that will allow just anyone to get to work at Google yet also own a house on ten acres for half the price you paid for a mansion in Cupertino

Remember, high property values means nobody else gets in after you!  This is an Open Thread.

Comments (6) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:04 am