Genies CEO Akash Nigam Buys Venice ‘Zen Den’ For $4.27 Million
Genies CEO Akash Nigam closed on a $4.27 million home in Venice on Thursday. Agent Josh Picker with Douglas Elliman Real Estate in Beverly Hills represented the buyer. Drew Gitlin of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices in Brentwood represented the seller, Craig Johnson, a partner with the Golden State Warriors basketball team.
Nigam, who grew up in the Silicon Valley, is the CEO of Genies, an innovative technology company and digital avatar app for tokenized digital collectibles known as NFTs. Founded in 2017, the avatar technology is popular with celebrities, athletes and influencers who want to use an avatar powered by artificial intelligence to express their identity in a virtual world.
Nigam and Genies co-founder Evan Rosenbaum made the Forbes 30 Under 30 list for Consumer Technology in 2019. Genies tech has helped celebrities generate revenue when they can’t attend an event in person. Moreover, Nigam says, the pandemic has given celebrities and social media stars opportunities to interact with fans virtually. Justin Bieber used his Genies avatar to announce his Christmas album on Amazon in November.
As of May, Genies had raised $65 million to boost its avatar creator, which the company is promoting for virtual identity and wearable digital goods.
While he is not putting technology aside, Nigam is setting down roots and took time finding the right space to call home.
“I was very patient throughout the last four months in looking for a house in Venice. I never found one that checked off all the boxes until I came across this ‘Zen den.’ Lately, I’ve been prioritizing my mental health and well-being, and the house’s soothing architecture and immersion into a mini forest were as meditative as they could come. This entire house was built with natural light in mind and is a private getaway from all of the chaos, but still one block away from one of my favorite streets in L.A., Abbot Kinney [Boulevard]. David Hertz and Charles Ward, the architects, are two of the most notable architects on the West Side and mastermind geniuses. There isn’t one inch of this house that was compromised,” Nigam says.
The two-bedroom, three-bathroom home is 2,886 square feet and sits on a 5,200-square-foot lot with a two-car garage. With open-plan living, floor-to-ceiling windows and exposed wood beams along with steel finishes, modern fixtures and polished concrete, the private residence has an ultra-modern feel.
In addition to a chef’s kitchen with a bar that seats four, there is a stepped down living area and a fireplace. The house has a second-story with an additional loft-style lounge and a main suite with a stunning terrace overlooking the backyard, spa and pool.
The residence has a secondary structure that currently serves as a bar and gym; Nigam plans to create an additional dwelling unit on the property.
Gitlin says the location is amazing. “It’s a very cool and incredibly hip home. It is a 10 out of 10, a beautiful house, and Akash’s timing was perfect,” he adds.
In addition to the architecture and the location, the house has a unique vibe. “It is an open floor plan with an industrial feel with exposed beams, exposed wood and exposed ceilings. Right when you walk in, there is this Zen feel to the space. You have the wood and the concrete. You have this combination of colors and materials that is unusual, beautiful and interesting,” Picker says.
Nigam says launching Genies in L.A. was intentional. “It’s one of the most expressive, creative communities in the entire world. We’ve now signed a new 20,000-square-foot office space to make it crystal clear [that] I’m happy to continue contributing to the L.A. tech community as we continue to establish the ever-growing metaverse space here through Genies, but also my personal future as well,” he says.
“Venice, in particular, has my heart. I’ve never meshed with a community like this. It’s the most accepting, free-spirited, and inclusive group of people I’ve ever met in my entire life; very reminiscent of what we are trying to achieve for all of humanity through avatars and why I’m so proud to finally call this my home,” Nigam says.
Picker is starting to see a lot of exciting buzz around Venice. “We are at this inflection point where there will be a lot of change with older cafes being brought up to a bohemian style for people in Venice and the West Side. And I feel like Akash plays into that in terms of new homeowners,” Picker says.
Nigam says Venice is also quickly becoming the heart and soul of NFT meetings and creativity. “Every single day, there’s an event happening,” he adds, “so it makes sense to park a seat at the center table.”