From Silicon Valley to Hutt Valley
Two successful internet entrepreneurs plan to swap life in Silicon Valley for rural bliss in Upper Hutt after embarking on a multimillion-dollar house-shopping spree.
American brothers Matthew and Brian Monahan, co-founders of San Francisco company Inflection, have Overseas Investment Office consent to buy 329 Whitemans Valley Rd, Upper Hutt, for $1,290,000.
It is one of three properties bought by the Monahans on the same rural road. They paid $1.4m for No 296 in September 2011, and $1.2m for No 351 in August last year. It is understood a fourth property in the area was bought in a private sale.
Their company, which specialises in records searches, sold its genealogy website archives.com for $100m in April last year.
Speaking from California, Matthew Monahan said he fell in love with New Zealand on a visit and hoped to get residency. "If the country will have us, long-term we'd like to spend more time out there.
"We loved Wellington out of all the cities we visited, and we grew up in a rural place, so a rural lifestyle is very familiar to us. And it's a beautiful area."
The brothers, aged 28 and 25, are among the leaders of a new generation of entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley.
Their company employs a "happiness engineer" to ensure a productive workplace, and held a retreat in the Santa Cruz Mountains, featuring meditation and yoga, in 2011.
They also set up the Namaste Foundation, which supports non-profit enterprises and entrepreneurs, in 2012.
Despite their success, the Monahans are not done with business and have not sat on their laurels.
Much of the $100m from the archives.com sale was reinvested in the company, and they rent their California home, Monahan said.
They see potential for growth in New Zealand and could invest in projects here, but are not ready to abandon the high-tech nirvana of Silicon Valley for good just yet.
"We're interested in green tech, the eco-tech space," he said. "Right now, we're more suitable as investors than operators because of our commitment to Inflection . . . New Zealand is well-positioned to become a thriving startup scene, especially in green tech and film and media."
The Monahans had got to know the Upper Hutt area well, he said. "It's pretty ideal - you've got the rural lifestyle bound up with proximity to Wellington.
"We've spent quite a lot of time there, got to know the neighbours. Everybody's been so friendly."
The 351 Whitemans Valley Rd house has five bedrooms, a swimming pool, library and wine cellar. At No 296, there are five bedrooms, a sauna, a separate guest's cottage, a lake and sunken garden.
Upper Hutt Mayor Wayne Guppy said it was great for the region that people such as the Monahans wanted to live there.
"[They] know a good place when [they] see one," he said. "Balance of life is something we in New Zealand don't realise sometimes."
Sunday Star Times