Scopely CEO Walter Driver coughs up $5.6 million in Venice bidding war

Local realtor Tracy Do says “be prepared for competition—be prepared for heartbreak” in regards to the unstoppable ascension of home prices in the greater LA area, a trend that Yolanda expects will continue in 2018 for most sectors of the market (though ultra-high-end real estate is actually slowing down somewhat, but we digress). And perhaps one of the best examples of those relentless gains is this house out in Venice, which sold for $1,858,000 just over three years ago, in August 2014.

The home’s new owner — Dallas-based real estate developer Travis Hollman, who is married to Real Housewives of Dallas star Stephanie Hollman — quickly hired local designer Kim Gordon to oversee an extensive remodel and expansion of the premises. Clearly, that was a wise move. Only two years after purchasing the property, Mr. Hollman put his overhauled project back on the market with a rather rude $4,985,000 pricetag, an amount Yolanda believed was entirely too optimistic. Heck, that’s almost triple what he had paid. And for a house on a .13-acre lot? Highway robbery!

But nobody agreed with Yolanda, of course. Cracked-out buyers with money to burn swarmed the corner lot house. Only one month after being listed, the property sold for a ludicrous $5,610,000 — an unbelievable $625,000 more than the asking price. Someone wanted this place and wanted it badly.

The new owner’s identity is carefully secreted away behind a boringly-named blind trust, but Yolanda happens to know that it is a youngish guy named Walter Driver (and his wife Kate Strickland Driver). Never heard of these young whippersnappers? Neither had Yolanda. But it turns out that Mr. Driver is a very big deal in the mobile gaming industry. Scopely, the company he co-founded in 2011, is currently valued at north of $600 million. From what Yolanda can tell, the firm makes gaming apps that they sell in Apple’s app store (and other app stores too, probably). The firm has attracted a large array of prominent investors, among them multiple hedge funds and rich solo folks like Peter Chernin, Kobe Bryant, and Jimmy Iovine.

Despite the accolades, a quick online search reveals that the company appears to have a significant group of detractors. Sites Yolanda browsed contain an overuse of the terms “greedy”, “shady”, and “deceptive”. Oh dear! But anyway, Mr. Driver is the CEO of Scopely so he’s certainly rolling in the dough.

As for Mrs. Driver, she heads up an interior design firm West Haddon Hall. Like her hubby, she is in her 30s and together they have at least one mini Driver bambino.

Walter & Kate Driver

It seems that our loved-up family wanted a statement residence to celebrate their success and young money. So let’s take a look — y’all can judge for yourselves whether the eye-watering pricetag was really worth it.

The house sits on a long, narrow corner lot and fronts the “best street in Venice”, according to the listing. To keep things private, the property is completely walled, gated, and surrounded by a towering hedges. Cameras are everywhere. Around back is a two-car garage that is accessed discreetly via an alleyway.

Though the .13-acre lot will never be called spacious, Mr. Hollman (and Ms. Gordon) did the best they could to maximize use of the compact land and installed an outdoor fireplace surrounded by comfy-looking couches and assorted palm trees for a distinctly Hawaiian-flavored feel.

As y’all can see, the tropical theme carries on indoors, where an all-glass door swings open to a groovy double-height space. The main floor is essentially one big room, making it ideal for entertaining.

Just off the front entrance is the open kitchen, which is super convenient if y’all don’t mind those smells filling up the whole house. The cabinetry appears to be some sort of exotic wood — the listing does not specify — and there is plenty of storage space for cutlery and such. Also downstairs is a booze-friendly wet bar with bar seating. The home is filled with dozens of circular LED lights and accentuated by floor-to-ceiling glass-and-steel windows that draw in the Hawaiian-esque landscaping.

Upstairs there are four bedrooms including the master, which has white oak floors, a built in soaking tub in the bathroom, a trough-like sink, and a walk-in closet with custom wooden shelving.

A detached guest unit is accessed via a narrow catwalk from the main house and is situated directly above the garage, we believe. Atop the main house (and accessed via a small staircase) is a seating area plus a (clearly faux) patch of grass. Good for the doggies to play in, Yolanda supposes. But hopefully not for using as a doggy bathroom.

From what Yolanda can tell, the 4,572-square-foot residence does not sport a pool/spa, nor does it have a place to install such amenities. Which for more than $5.6 million is kinda a damn shame. Right?

But anywho. We have already mentioned how Venice is gentrified and now impossibly expensive, yet the area remains an acquired taste. At least for Yolanda. For $5.6 million we wouldn’t want to live on a very public corner known to be frequented by hobos and way too many damn tourists, nice house or not. Yet the price is relatively on par with the neighborhood — Milwood Avenue is one of the most desirable streets in Venice and Game of Thrones actress Emilia Clarke recently threw down $4,640,000 for a smaller (but rather awesome) house just a few doors away.

So if you like Venice and don’t mind braving the throngs of people, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Listing agents: Tami Pardee & Justin Alexander, Halton Pardee and Partners
Walter Driver’s agent: Tami Pardee, Halton Pardee and Partners

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