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Mark Zuckerberg. (Photo by Robert Scoble via Flickr.)
Mark Zuckerberg. (Photo by Robert Scoble via Flickr.)

Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates are both Harvard dropouts who climbed to the top of the technology world. And it turns out they share a similar approach when it comes to residential real estate, as well.

The Facebook CEO has spent more than $30 million to buy four properties adjacent to his Palo Alto, Calif., home, the Mercury News reports today.

That will sound very familiar to the residents of Medina, Wash., where Bill Gates spent more than $14 million between 1994 and 2003 to do essentially the same thing.

In both situations, the billionaires didn’t make the purchases to expand their own homes. Instead, they snapped up the properties around their existing homes to create a buffer of control.

In Zuckerberg’s case, the Mercury News reports that the Facebook CEO made the purchases after learning that a developer planned to build a huge house next door, and tout its proximity to his home as a selling point. The newspaper reports that he has leased the homes back to the families that previously owned them.

In 2004, a Gates spokesman told the Seattle Times, “This is a family that holds privacy very dearly to them. The properties create a buffer around the Gates home.”

I double-checked the King County property records this morning, and those adjacent homes in Medina remain under the control of the Gates family. And many of the nearby properties that aren’t controlled by Gates are owned by friends and colleagues, including former Microsoft board member Jon Shirley, and Microsoft patent chief Horacio Gutierrez.

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