After years of living in rented Venice digs — most recently at a three-bedroom bungalow just steps from trendy Abbott Kinney — prominent tech cryptographer Moxie Marlinspike is finally setting down some permanent real estate roots, albeit slightly further inland. The Signal CEO, who’s appeared on the Joe Rogan Experience and is frequently considered one of the country’s foremost cybersecurity experts, has plunked down $4.9 million on an ultra-modern property in the increasingly pricey Mar Vista neighborhood.
Born Mike Benham in Georgia but more commonly known by his Moxie Marlinspike pseudonym and also occasionally as Matthew Rosenfeld, the 40-year-old tech guru cofounded Whisper Systems in 2010. When Twitter acquired the company in 2011, Marlinspike became the social media giant’s head of product security, reporting directly to CEO Jack Dorsey. Since then, he’s partnered with billionaire WhatsApp cofounder Brian Acton to launch Signal, an encrypted messaging service that has been downloaded more than 100 million times.
The new Mar Vista house was in demand; it sold after less than a month on the market and Marlinspike paid $34,000 over the asking price. But while the luxe structure has a rakish, quintessentially Venice sort of contemporary look, it’s located in a decidedly more family-friendly, more conservative area of town littered with mostly modest bungalows, many of them dating to the 1940s and ’50s.
But for Marlinspike, that sort of dichotomy is par for the course. Though he’s a multimillionaire — and Signal has been poised to become an online home for “angry conservatives,” per Forbes — the self-described anarchist supported the protests against police brutality and the BLM demonstrations. And with his long dreadlocks and loose-fitting surfer attire, Marlinspike is far more likely to be mistaken for just another Venice beach bum than one of the better known tech titans in Los Angeles.