Bird CEO Travis VanderZanden dumps $8 million cash on an unfinished Santa Monica mansion

Today we’re issuing an upfront mea culpa. We know some folks follow our blog primarily for the house pictures and merely skim the text. And that’s perfectly fine, but today we haven’t a single photo to share. Not even a Google Maps screengrab, since today’s house is so new it ain’t even finished yet. This deal was totally off-market and Yolanda has upended the entire Internet looking for just one measly pic. But no luck. So, we’re sorry. Hope y’all understand.

But if you’re still triggered, feel free to drop us an angry message via the hotline. It’s Friday and Yolanda really doesn’t give a f***.

Anyway, Travis VanderZanden, the entrepreneurial CEO/founder of Bird, has a new home on LA’s Westside. For those uninitiated, Bird (here’s their official website) is an electric scooter-sharing service. Download the app, find a scooter, unlock it and zoom away. If you live in Santa Monica — or in most any major US city, really — you’ve probably seen “Birds” littering every sidewalk and streetcorner. The LA-based startup recently became the fastest to ever reach a $1 billion “unicorn” valuation.

Mr. VanderZanden gave us the Bird

We’ll return to Mr. VanderZanden and his innovative startup in a moment. First, let’s discuss his new digs as best we can — absent any pictures with which to play. Womp womp.

Records show Mr. VanderZanden used a blind trust to quietly pay $8,100,000 — every penny of it in cash — for a brand-new mansion. The deal went down in September (2018) and the property is located on a lovely and leafy street in eastern Santa Monica, just a quick skip away from the ever-popular Brentwood Country Mart, one of our favorite dining destinations in LA. Next time we’re at the Mart, remind us to swing by and snap an iPhone pic of the VanderZandens’ new homestead for y’all.

Yolanda has yet to view Mr. VanderZanden’s new house in person, but word on the street says it’s big and white and Traditional in style. And it’s got a very conventional two-car garage, apparently. We hope the VanderZandens fill said garage with Birds and not cars. Walk (scoot?) the walk!

This is not Mr. VanderZanden’s new house

Our research indicates the 0.2-acre lot (a typical size for this area) was long host to a remarkably unremarkable two-story house (above). The property was owned for nearly 50 years by a non-famous family and sold — for the very first time — in 2015. The local developer buyer paid $3,225,000 and quickly scrapped the existing residence to make way for something much bigger and grander.

Speaking of size, we’re not sure how large the new VanderZanden manse is. But it’s big. And we gather it looks vaguely similar to Tina Trahan‘s old Santa Monica mansion a few doors away. Given that Ms. Trahan’s $7.1 million home clocked in with 7,756-square-feet of living space, Yolanda suspects Mr. VanderZanden’s $8.1 million abode may be even larger.

Also not Mr. VanderZanden’s new house. But it looks something like this

For some reason, nobody can (or will) tell Yolanda which architect designed the VanderZanden structure. If you know, let us know so we can gift him/her proper credit. At the moment, the house is still unfinished — the family is putting some custom touches on it.

While they await completion of their big-ass casa, the VanderZandens are leasing a spacious unit within 1410 SM, a luxury Santa Monica apartment building near the famed Third Street Promenade outdoor mall. No word on how much they pay for their temporary digs, but rents in this building usually run between $3,500-$6,000 per month.

1410 SM, where the VanderZandens currently reside

Mr. VanderZanden has worked in a startup environment for his entire career, beginning shortly after he earned his MBA from USC’s Marshall School of Business. In 2011, he co-founded car wash app Cherry, which was acquired by Lyft two years later. Lyft anointed Mr. VanderZanden as their new COO, though he left the company a year later.

Alas, our boy and Lyft did not part ways amicably. Lyft was furious at Mr. VanderZanden for (allegedly) breaching their confidentiality agreement. They also accused him of stealing non-public company documents and “proprietary information” just prior to his departure and making use of them in his new VP position at arch-rival Uber. A lawsuit ensued, though Lyft and Mr. VanderZanden eventually reached a confidential settlement out of court.

For the record, Mr. VanderZanden has always maintained his innocence, though we’d guess he still paid a hefty chunk of change to make the suit go away. But who knows, right?

After two years at Uber, Mr. VanderZanden departed the firm in September 2016. Almost exactly one year later, he founded Bird.

They see me scootin’ (photo: Robyn Beck)

Since September 2017, Mr. VanderZanden has proven extraordinarily successful at raising enormous amounts of Silicon Valley capital. Investments in his babyfaced startup have topped an unprecedented $400 million in just four months, and the company — whose scooters are touted as an environmentally-friendly transportation option — is now valued at a reported $2 billion. That’s insane, kiddies.

Just to give you an idea of how much money Mr. VanderZanden has made, this July (2018) he sold some of his Bird shares for a whopping $44 million (or something close to that). And while Yolanda has no idea what this dude’s total net worth may be, it is almost certainly well into the hundreds of millions by now.

Not bad for a year’s work.

Of course, it hasn’t been all fun and games. Like Lyft and Uber before them, Bird has encountered opposition from many of the municipalities it has attempted to enter. Naysayers deride the scooters as nuisances. Users often abandon their rides on sidewalks or in roadways, creating potential hazards and just generally making things look janky.

Still, Mr. VanderZanden’s attempt at world domination shows no sign of a slowdown. Yet.

On the personal front, 39-year-old Mr. VanderZanden and his lovely wife Samantha have two young daughters. Prior to their LA move last year, the couple resided in the Bay Area town of Tiburon.

In addition to the former home of Ms. Trahan (which was recently sold to a non-famous family), some of the couple’s nearest Santa Monica neighbors include comedic actress Bonnie Hunt, and LA Times VP Penn Jones, who owns the large mansion right next door.

  1. Sandy SantaMonica says:

    Skim the text? Are you kidding? You’re the JK Rowling of real estate! As for BIRD, let me bare witness to its success. I feel like Tippi Hedren every time I venture down to the Third Street Promenade. File under: Scooter legislation FAIL. With love, Sandy Santa Monica

  2. What an interesting story of an exponential and meteoric rise. With all that money in his pocket, no doubt Mr. VanderZanden paid off his USC/MBA faster than he could bat an eyelash. Congratulations on his entrepreneurial success and soon-to-be Santa Monica digs.

  3. SM says:

    Hopefully he is a better neighbor than Mrs Trahan, who hired a Home Depot crew to come over on a Sunday and cut down a beautiful old tree on a PUBLIC sidewalk in front of her home. We and several other neighbors called the cops, but by the time they arrived it was too late. The fine the city gave her for illegal activities was nothing to a woman of her wealth.

    Sad that all that destruction was all done for nothing, as she sold the house a few months later! Leave the trees alone, please!

  4. Faye Dunaslay says:

    Miss Yoyo, can you do some digging on Shane Dawson’s new place? Looks like a large estate somewhere near the Santa Monica mountains. I’ve never been impressed by any Youtubers’ real estate decisions, but I must confess this one looks gorgeous!

  5. Tammy Jo Williams says:

    I am interested in purchasing stock in your Bird company, please contact me at 225-978-5789 Thank you, Tammy Jo Williams

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