Robot guru Kyle Vogt drops $22 million to glam it up in San Francisco

Although Yolanda is based in Los Angeles and most of our stories thus come from the smoggy little bubble we orbit, we don’t want to give the impression that we’re region snobs. We love writing about other fun, exciting, wonderful places too.

Recently, all real estate eyes have been on LA. We’ve somehow racked up three of the four biggest residential sales of all time in a matter of weeks. But that doesn’t mean that big (if smaller) moves aren’t being made elsewhere, however. Just a few days ago, as our bay area real estate comrades at SFGate first reported, San Francisco notched its biggest sale of 2016. And the house in question is certainly a striking piece. (As it should be for $21,800,000.)

The buyer’s identity was not publicly revealed, but Yolanda just happens to know for a fact that the proud new owner is a 30-year-old dude named Kyle Vogt.


Mr. Vogt — a self-made MIT dropout — spent his 20s co-founding a bunch of Silicon Valley startups including the now-defunt Socialcam, the also-now-defunct Justin.tv, and Twitch (now a subsidiary of Amazon).

It wasn’t until 2016, however, when Mr. Vogt finally hit the proverbial (and literal) jackpot. In 2013, he founded Cruise, a company focused on self-driving automation innovation. The startup was snapped up by GM in 2016. Exact terms were not disclosed, but widespread rumors say Mr. Vogt’s company — just three years old — went for a billion bucks.

Whatever the case, however much it sold for, regardless of the legal situation, young Mr. Vogt clearly has the financial wherewithal to slam down a ruthless $21,800,000 on a very seriously grandiose mansion in the high-priced Pacific Heights neighborhood of the city. Because that’s what he just bought, duh.

The house in question was completed way back in 1902, long before old Yolanda was even birthed. Designed by noted architect James Francis Dunn, the property was commissioned by James Madison, a man who made a fortune in the packing industry with the Alaska Salmon Company. For a time, it enjoyed a pampered life as one of old ‘Frisco’s most glamorous “ladies of the boulevard”. Eventually, however, time happened. With time always comes change and the mansion was converted into — gasp! — an 11-unit apartment building.

For a more thorough history/overview of the house, view the comprehensive write-up by our friends at Curbed SF.

In 2012, the rundown old place was acquired for $6,950,000 by a couple named Bryan and Tara Meehan, residents of Belvedere, California. Our Mr. & Mrs. Meehan have oodles of money thanks to their ownership of organic coffee manufacturer Blue Bottle Coffee. (For what’s it’s worth, Mr. Meehan is a serial entrepreneur who also founded a London-based chain of organic markets that was sold to Whole Foods more than a decade ago, so perhaps all his money does not just come from coffee. We just like saying coffee bazillionaire so we’re sticking with that.)

Mr. & Mrs. Meehan: the coffee bazillionaires

The Meehans quickly gutted the house, which had fallen far from its once-grand state. They rebuilt. God saved the queen! Well, the Meehans sorta ripped out the queen’s her innards and gave her new silicone parts. Look at her now. So shiny! So young! How does she do it?

Weighing in at a hulking 9,095-square-feet, the liberally embellished Beaux Arts structure stands a full five stories tall (including the partially underground level(s) with 7 bedrooms and 7 bathrooms.

Inside the “masterpiece”, however, things get exceptionally modern and trendy. That’s because Mr. & Mrs. Meehan hired prolific LA-based architect Paul McClean of McClean Design to renovate indoors.

If the name McClean Design sounds vaguely familiar, it may be because Yolanda has discussed the firm’s coveted Los Angeles spec-mansions many, many, many times on this blog.

Check out the staircase’s glass railing and those wheat-hued hardwood floors. Those and the various light fixtures are courtesy of our Mr. McClean, we’d bet.

The open kitchen — the space is really more of combo kitchen and family room — appears to have been hewn solely from a boxcar-sized lump of marble. The view is truly spectacular… on a clear day. From what we recall there aren’t many of those up in foggy San Fran. (Hey, there aren’t many down here either. We know. We’re not hatin’.)

The master bedroom made good use of whatever marble was left over from the kitchen remodel. There’s a sitting area with an enormous fireplace, and floor-to-ceiling glass doors make provide easy access to the outdoor terrace and the aforementioned views.

The master bathroom sports yet more marble and a trendy glass shower. The attached dressing room/walk-in closet has plenty of nooks and crannies for belts, baubles, and various other accessories.

Yolanda’s favorite feature of this house is the stunning elliptical staircase. We know it’s not original, but we love it. We’re a damn sucker for a good elliptical staircase. There’s this townhouse in New York that we dream about solely for its sexy staircase. Sad,  right?

The house also sports a brand-new elevator that services all five levels. But to take an elevator instead of those stairs? Might as well go diving off the Golden Gate with an anchor tied around your legs right now.

Some other wow-inspiring spaces include a real library with walnut cabinetry and a wet bar.

The living room/tea time room keeps things cool and neutral. That’s a rather fabulous couch.

The roof has a firepit and a picture-perfect resort-style negative-edge swimming pool that reminds us of the one at that big Bird Streets house that was renovated by Mr. McClean. Whew, that was a sentence.

The backyard clearly isn’t huge by LA standards, but this is San Francisco. Most folks’ backyard is the concrete nook where their trashcans are kept. That’s if they’re lucky, btw. And with that view, a yard almost seems like overkill, don’t it?

Now listen kiddies, we hate to be our persnickety selves, but we feel the house is just a wee bit bastardized. It’s new and sleek and modern and luxurious, but what happened to all the original details inside? Moldings? Woodwork? They were still there (supposedly) when the Meehans acquired the place a few years ago! Not so anymore.

But we digress. How’s this for an end-of-week treat? See, Yolanda can still serve it up with the best of ’em.

Mr. Vogt’s agent: Bryant Kowalczyk, GPK

  1. CeCe says:

    With the amount of references back and forth— I am starting to wonder more and more if Mama & Yolanda truly are one in the same… hmmmmmmmm

    That said, gorgeous house. I like the authenticity of restoring the spectacular facade and then modernizing the interior.

    Funny Mr. Mcclean found his way to one of the most expensive deals in SF while he’s certainly dominating that list down in LA. Also, with that shit box Ginger Glass sold for $100m its looking like Niami may get something serious for his $500m McClean cuz that is def 3-4 times the house. SMH.

  2. Rabbi Hedda LaCasa says:

    Initially listed at $28 million, the significantly lower closing price indicates high end realtor Giddings inaccurately marketed this home. The high quality spec-remodel is well designed; however, along with Yolanda I lament the loss of original priceless details.

    Floor plans are on Giddings’ site; click on floor plans and then on [pdf] to view all five levels. Alas, neither the elevator nor elliptical stairs ascend to the spa/terrace roof level, accessible only via a separate stairwell.

    And Mama and Yolanda are two fabulously distinct individuals. Proof? Each maintains a discrete email address!

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