Silicon Valley Billionaires Buy Dynamic Slice of Montecito Modernism

Real Estate

Mansions that populate the hills of Santa Barbara and the surrounding environs — Montecito, Carpinteria, Hope Ranch — are famously known for their Spanish Revival and Mediterranean architecture, but there are also world-class modernist gems there, too, midcentury icons like Richard Neutra’s Tremaine House and the Erdman House by Lutah Maria Riggs. And then there’s the shelter magazine-published Barton Myers confection, known simply as the Montecito Residence, which recently sold for $7.2 million.

Though it sports plenty of midcentury hallmarks — soaring walls of glass, a functionally minimalist floorplan, seamless indoor/outdoor living — the Montecito Residence was built barely a decade ago, completed in 2009 for Chicagoans John and Dorothy Gardner. The Gardners held onto the .94-acre property until this year, when they sold it to Silicon Valley entrepreneurs Mark Armenante and Young Sohn, co-founders of Vlocity, the cloud-applications software company acquired by Salesforce for $1.3 billion earlier this year.

Hewn almost entirely from steel and glass, Myers’ creation spans about 4,000 square feet of living space, with 2 bedrooms and 2.5 baths. Inside, there are soaring ceilings and an emphasis on light and shadow, with multi-pane glass doors that retract vertically, disappearing into the ceiling — rather like the residential version of Lamborghini’s scissor doors. For less playful traditionalists, there are also conventional horizontal glass doors, all of them opening to gardens landscaped with colorful, drought-tolerant plantings.

The house is configured with two distinctly separate wings — one with the public reception rooms, the other featuring bedrooms and other private spaces — linked by an all-glass passageway. The first wing contains a mammoth great room with living and dining areas bisected from a custom Bulthaup kitchen by a tall wall; the second features two large bedrooms, both equipped with sumptuous ensuite baths that open to a walled Japanese-style courtyard.

There’s also a separate one-bed, one-bath guesthouse on the property, plus expansive terraces for al fresco lounging or entertaining. While the industrial-chic style of the estate isn’t for everyone, the main home’s hard-edged interior spaces are visually softened by warm neutral tones and abundant natural light seeping in through vast windows.

And the Montecito Residence isn’t just a glitzy modernist toy, it’s a sustainable house built using structural steel, a material manufactured mainly from recycled scrap metal. Live (mostly) guilt free in high style — what a concept!

Armenante and Sohn, both in their 60s, were initially longterm business partners and executives at Veeva Systems, the publicly-traded Silicon Valley cloud-computing company that made them both incredibly wealthy. In 2013, Forbes estimated Armenante’s Veeva stake was worth $659 million; Sohn, for her part, had a $643 million net worth.

But since then, the pair have only grown richer. In 2014, they co-founded Vlocity, the cloud software provider that was gobbled up this February by Salesforce in the aforementioned $1.3 billion deal.

A quick glance through property records reveals Armenante and Sohn own a major property portfolio that includes well over $50 million in luxury residences. Their separate and joint holdings include a historic mansion in San Francisco’s Presidio Heights neighborhood, purchased for $18 million in 2014, a $16.3 million penthouse in a particularly famous New York City skyscraper, and a $5 million condo in Manhattan’s Chelsea area. There’s also a multimillion-dollar mansion in Lake Tahoe’s Martis Camp, the exclusive guard-gated community known for its popularity with tech tycoons and other Bay Area billionaires.

Cristal Clarke of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices held the listing.

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