- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Some of the computer software industry’s richest moguls might soon be dealing with a case of castle envy.

David Duffield, a billionaire who amassed most of his fortune by reluctantly selling PeopleSoft Inc. after a hostile takeover last year, has submitted plans for a 72,000-square-foot home that would eclipse the mammoth mansions custom-made for his more famous peers, Bill Gates and Larry Ellison.

But Mr. Duffield’s palatial vision might never be realized.

The project already is facing intense opposition from the neighbors who would have to live in the shadow of the proposed three-story home in Alamo, Calif. — a tony suburb about 30 miles east of San Francisco.

Alamo resident Bruce Smith, whose family previously owned the 8,000-square-foot home that Mr. Duffield hopes to demolish to make room for his new house, said the land was never intended for a residence that will dwarf the 60,645-square-foot Hearst Castle and the 55,000-square-foot White House.

“I really don’t have a problem with a man pursuing his dreams, but this is just too much,” Mr. Smith said last week.

Jim Dugdale, Mr. Duffield’s project manager, defended the proposed home in an interview with the Contra Costa Times, which first reported the building plans.

“It’s a lovely designed home that complies with all the rules and the established practices of the area,” Mr. Dugdale told the Times.

The plans are drawing mixed reviews from Mr. Duffield’s neighbors, said Richard Maxey, manager of the Bryan Ranch Homeowners Association, which encompasses the 22 acres where Mr. Duffield wants to build.

“There are a lot of emotions,” Mr. Maxey said. “Some people want it to be built because they think it will enhance their property values. I am also getting a lot of complaints about ‘monsterization’ and ‘mansionization.’”

Mr. Duffield’s insistence of building a castle evokes the image of a “billionaire bully,” Mr. Smith said, calling the plan “sort of a takeover of our neighborhood.”

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