Steve Jobs would likely approve of successor Tim Cook's ascetic condominium, designated "unit A" on a shared Palo Alto single-family home lot. He would be far less happy with the high-ranking Google executive in the "unit B" in-law dwelling right behind it.
Apple CEO Cook lives in a relatively modest four-bedroom house in Palo Alto, according to county and real estate industry records, even though last year Apple awarded him a $378 million, 10-year stock grant. His 2,4000 square-foot dwelling is less than half the size of Jobs' nearby seven-bedroom abode. He told a Fortune writer that the "modest surroundings help me.... be reminded of where I came from."
To remind Cook of where he has arrived, there's the 36-year old Google wheeler-dealer shacked up in an intimately close neighboring condo.
Digging deeper into the aformentioned local records reveals just how unassuming Cook's house really is. Its former owner refers to it, via his shell company, as a condo, probably because the dwelling shares its itty-bitty real estate parcel with an adjoining, smaller unit to the rear, previously held by the same owner.
The buyer of that abutting condo, who moved in around the same time as Cook, was Bill Maris (bottom left in the picture), the managing partner of Google's investment arm Google Ventures. Or at least, we're reasonably certain the house belongs to Maris: His name is on the county deed transfer records, and a separate search of a public records database revealed that his college graduation year matches up perfectly with the age of the condo's most recent occupant, and that Maris's hometown of Burlington, Vermont is also the hometown of the most recent occupant's cell phone.
We wanted to ask Maris what Cook was like as a neighbor — the 51-year-old bachelor is known to be courtly, but also icy and demanding, not the sort whose lawn is to be trifled with — but could not reach him via calls and voice mails to two different phone numbers Wednesday, nor via two text messages or a Facebook message.
Cook, for his part, must be at least a little wary of the arrangement. Google is the company his friend and mentor Jobs was "willing to go thermonuclear war" against, the company Jobs vowed to "spend my last dying breath" fighting if necessary, and the company he basically called evil. Maris leads Google's investments in strategic, cutting-edge technologies, technologies expressly meant to be similar to Android, a Google acquisition Jobs resented deeply.
Who knows, maybe the men get on famously, grilling hot dogs and drinking beers together, collecting one another's packages, trading Excel anecdotes, and not hacking into each other's broadband hookups. But it must be noted that, after arriving in summer 2010, Maris left his condo around October 2011, according to a public records database. The Googler then set his Facebook location to Mountain View earlier this month. His Palo Alto real estate experiment appears to have been yet another Apple-Google joint venture that went south.
Which is too bad. Sometimes a little friction between unlikely collaborators produces the brightest creative sparks. As Jobs would be the first to tell you.