Novato resident Ken Ackerman said he suspected something big was in the works when his grandson, David Karp, paid him a visit about five weeks ago.
Ackerman said there was talk then of the sale of Tumblr, the social media website founded by Karp, hailed as a 26-year-old wunderkind.
"Something was in the wind; we didn't know if it was going to be Facebook or Yahoo (YHOO) or who," Ackerman said. "I know he talked with a fellow in San Francisco he called Zuck." Mark Zuckerberg is the founder of Facebook.
Yahoo announced this week it will pay $1.1 billion for Tumblr, and according to press reports Karp will take home about $250 million.
"It seems ethereal in a way because it just happened so fast," Ackerman said.
The proud 91-year-old grandfather said that during his recent visit, Karp had a limousine at his beck and call and they dined at several local restaurants. "All he had to do was pick up the phone and in five minutes the limousine was at the door," he said.
Ackerman recently moved to a Novato mobile home park from San Anselmo, where Karp's mother, Barbara Ackerman, grew up.
He credits his daughter with having the foresight to home-school her son so he could devote more time to his passion for computers.
"At night while other kids were out playing games and watching TV, he would be at his computer," Ackerman said. "He had this touch of genius from the start and everybody realized it."
Reached by phone in New
York, Barbara Ackerman said recent profiles of her son have ballyhooed the fact that he didn't graduate from high school or attend college.
"I know it sounds very sexy to say he's a high school dropout," she said. "But he had an amazing high school education because he had amazing tutors. His first businesses were started when he was 14 years old."
She said her decision to allow David to pursue his dream was also influenced by her father, who decided at a young age that he wanted to be a radio announcer and managed to get his first job in the field at age 18. The elder Ackerman worked as an announcer at KCBS for 40 years.
Barbara Ackerman attended Sir Francis Drake High School and graduated from the College of Marin with a degree in music education before moving to New York City in 1976. In New York, she worked for a time in CBS's legal department as a copyright infringement specialist. Today, she is a science teacher at the Calhoun School, a private prep school on Manhattan's Upper West side.
The elder Ackerman said his daughter is divorced and raised David and his younger brother, Kevin, in New York City mostly on her own.
Barbara Ackerman said she was the first person her son texted after he signed off on the deal on Saturday and they met soon after at her apartment.
"There were tears and laughter and a whole lot of hugging," she said. "It's extremely emotional. I watched this kid build this thing. It's been his baby."
The elder Ackerman said for years he has kept a picture on his refrigerator of himself with his arm around his then 16-year-old grandson.
"I think now ... I'm going to have to move the picture from the lower part of the refrigerator to the top," he said.
Contact Richard Halstead via e-mail at email@example.com
©2013 The Marin Independent Journal (Novato, Calif.)
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