Scott Jones, CEO of search engine ChaCha, has built a high-tech wonderland of a mansion in central Indiana to rival any abode in Silicon Valley. The 27,000 sq. ft. English country manor, selected by HGTV as the No. 1 home in America, melds old-world charm with a hardcore nerd's wet dreams. Amenities include the obligatory, and thoroughly geeky, automated lighting, air conditioning, and media systems controlled by touchscreen and a workstation sporting eight large LCDs (one of twenty-six computers in the home). Jones's playthings, however, don't stop with the typical high technology.
The house also sports a 2,700-gallon salt water aquarium, a home theater that trumps commercial movie venues, a Web-enabled wine cellar that keeps itself stocked, automated dog-food dispensers, a mahogany slide that took a year and a half to build, an indoor treehouse, a secret passage triggered by a Harry Potter book, and a waterfall shower in the master suite that gushes 300 gallons per minute. Apple board member and noted environmentalist Al Gore would not approve.
Steve Wozniak's 7,100 sq. ft. Los Gatos home, by contrast, is a quaint bungalow at best. Sure, it features "a children's discovery complex, an arcade, a cave (designed to look real by experts from the California Academy of Sciences ) and a pet hotel." But those hardly compare.
Scott Jones, with this house, has launched himself firmly into Michael Jackson Neverland territory. How does the CEO of an also-ran search engine afford such a spread? I'm sorry, did I fail to mention that Jones's first company, Boston Technology, invented voicemail, and that he runs six other companies in addition to ChaCha, including Gracenote, the music directory used by many services, including Apple's iTunes?
All of which raises the question: Why, with all his wealth, does Jones need Indiana University president Michael McRobbie, a former ChaCha board member, to oversee a deal in which IU librarians and IT staff are forced to volunteer their time on ChaCha?