The San Francisco Bay area is one of the least affordable housing markets in the United States. A typical family would need an annual income of $265,000 to be able to afford a “median-priced” house, which typically costs $1.4 million. Over the last several years, the highly paid tech workers have driven up the prices of a limited number of homes in Silicon Valley. Here we take a look at the top 10 biggest property owners in Silicon Valley based on the value of their total ownership.
The ranking is based on Mercury News’ Who Owns Silicon Valley report. Mercury News collaborated with half a dozen other publications to analyze more than 500,000 records in Santa Clara County, where most of the technology companies are based or originated.
According to the Who Owns Silicon Valley report, the ten biggest property owners have an estimated $59.2 billion worth of taxable property. While they have helped Silicon Valley become one of the most powerful economic centers in the world, they have also fueled the housing crisis in the Valley.
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These are the top 10 biggest property owners in Silicon Valley, according to Mercury News:
10- Prometheus Real Estate, $2 billion
Founded by billionaire Sanford Diller in 1965, the real estate development group has more than 11,000 apartments in Silicon Valley, Seattle, and Portland. In Silicon Valley, most of Prometheus Real Estate’s apartments are in Cupertino and Mountain View, in the vicinity of Apple and Google headquarters. Sanford Diller passed away in 2018 at the age of 89. The real estate giant is now run by his daughter Jackie Safier.
9- The Sobrato Organization, $2.5 billion
The Sobrato Organization was founded by John A. Sobrato in 1978. John A. Sobrato started selling homes in Palo Alto while still studying at Santa Clara University, and later worked with his mother to develop industrial properties. The Sobrato Organization currently owns more than 7 million square feet of office space and about 6,700 apartments across Silicon Valley.
8- Intel, $2.5 billion
Headquartered in Santa Clara, Intel is the world’s second-largest maker of chips. The chipmaker has three office parks in Santa Clara and San Jose. But its largest campus is in Portland, Oregon, where it employs more than 18,000 people. The company posted revenue of $70.8 billion in 2018.
7- Essex Property Trust, $3.1 billion
Essex Property Trust is a real estate investment trust founded by George Marcus in 1971. Headquartered in San Mateo, it owns an office building and more than 59,000 apartments in Silicon Valley, Oregon, and Washington. George Marcus remains at the helm of the company.
6- Cisco Systems, $3.4 billion
San Jose-based Cisco Systems was founded in 1984. It is a leading maker of telecom equipment and networking hardware. Cisco owns an estimated $3.4 billion worth of real estate properties in Silicon Valley, including a large office campus where it is headquartered. Cisco was valued at more than $500 billion at the peak of the dot-com bubble.
5- Jay Paul Co., $3.5 billion
Jay Paul Co. is a leading real estate development firm based in San Francisco. Jay Paul founded it in 1975 after rescuing his father’s savings-and-loan business. The company started building office spaces in Silicon Valley in the 1980s. Jay Paul Co. owns more than 11 million square feet of office space in Silicon Valley.
4- The Irvine Company, $5.9 billion
The Irvine Company was founded in 1864 when James Irvine bought a ranch in Orange County of California. The Irvine Company designed and developed the planned city of Irvine, which has an estimated population of 280,000. The real estate firm owns numerous residential and commercial real estate properties in Orange County and Santa Clara County. The Irvine Company is currently owned by Donald Bren.
3- Google, $7.5 billion
Google is the third biggest property owner in Silicon Valley. Founded in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin with a seed capital of just $100,000, Google’s parent company Alphabet has a market value of $900 billion. It has a large office campus in Mountain View. It also owns vast real estate assets in downtown San Jose and nearby areas. Google has committed $1 billion to ease the housing crisis in the San Francisco Bay area.
2- Apple, $9 billion
The iPhone maker owns $9 billion worth of real estate properties in Silicon Valley. It spent $5 billion to build the iconic spaceship campus in Cupertino. Apple has also been quietly acquiring real estate assets in Silicon Valley for its autonomous driving and chip designing efforts. Earlier this week, Apple announced that it was committing $2.5 billion to combat the housing crisis in California.
1- Stanford University, $19.7 billion
According to Mercury News, Stanford University is the biggest property owner in Silicon Valley. Its 5,178 acres of land in Santa Clara County is estimated to be worth $19.7 billion. Stanford also owns about 3,000 acres in San Mateo County. Established in 1891, Stanford is one of the world’s top educational institutions. It has produced legendary entrepreneurs like Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, Larry Page, and Sergey Brin. At least 83 Nobel laureates have been affiliated with Stanford University.