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Former Yahoo CEO Koogle's Casa de Mexico: Que Bonita!

Wednesday, 12 Dec 2007 | 4:26 PM ET
Tim Koogle

We last saw Tim Koogle, in a very public way, on his way out the door as Yahoo's CEO, just as the company was suffering some internal strife and a kind of internal innovation slowdown. The company was mulling layoffs, had issued a Wall Street warning and Koogle tells me he had reached the decision, on his own, to leave the company he had helped build from scratch.

Those 25 hour days, 8 days a week, had taken their toll on him personally and professionally, as he took Yahoo past its first $1 billion in revenue, and he decided to move on.

Flash forward six years and Koogle is taking the wraps off his latest project, the El Banco Beach Villas in Punta Mita, Mexico near Puerta Vallarta. And what a development this place is. But before jumping into our exclusive tour of this luxurious enclave, I had to ask him about Yahoo's current challenges. He was reluctant, but in his first public comments about Yahoo's problems, he ultimately told me that "the company is challenged. It has been for a while.

"My personal opinion is they did not step up and do a very good job at maintaining their ability to innovate at the rate they needed to...And if you don't invent it, someone else will. I guarantee you. And if you don't do it quick enough, somebody will do it quicker than you and they will steal the show... They lost that rate of innovation there, got a little bit wrapped around the action there with bureaucracy, got way slow and they're seeing that now."

He still follows the company's trials and tribulations, but is far more focused on this high-end residential real estate development. He calls it a "nice little project," but in reality, it is a 100-acre retreat, with 14 home sites, and plans for a 75-room boutique hotel, beach club and spa. Punta Mita has never seen a project like this one. It's a gorgeous part of the world, punctuated by the nearby Four Seasons Hotel. And El Banco is a labor of love, quite literally, for Koogle, and his wife Pam.

"We both have one word inscribed inside our wedding bands," she tells me. "And that is 'serendipity, because it's so serendipitous how it happened."

Serendipitous because Pam and Tim actually met online. What do you expect from the former CEO of Yahoo. Tim tells me "I was doing research for a project." Pam chimes in, "Oh yeah, doing research." They both laugh. He says, "And there was Pam's face." And she offers, "Research is hell." And lots more laughter.

They honeymooned in Punta Mita, fell in love with the place, and are now in the midst of a major development to share this magical place with others looking for the same thing.

Two model homes have now been completed, each with an asking price of around $7 million. The 12, 2-acre beachfront lots sold for $4 million. And the attention to detail inside the models is striking. Intricate, arched, brick, Boveda ceilings in the master suite in one home; indoor-outdoor bathes in both homes; arched walkways; infinity pools.

The architecture is rooted in Spanish Colonial with a healthy dash of Moroccan influence. It's a massive project and Pam confides: "We never so much as remodeled a kitchen together, so building a town was definitely a challenge to our marriage." Pam's in charge of the interior design; Tim, with his PhD in engineering, took charge of the security, water treatment, sewage and desalinization systems.

Their blend works, but that's where the biggest challenge lies, with the Koogles running the risk of turning this place of paradise into a place of "work" instead. Tim tells me, " It's very difficult to make that line, make it really clear between work and life. It is something we recognize. She says always, we aim for balance, but we're bad shots."

Balance may be difficult; but it remains a priority. "You can see the fruits of your labor, you can create something physically of beauty, and you can see people enjoy it for a long period of time," says Tim.

The Koogles trying to capture a new way of doing business -- selling this property as much as selling a life-style; doing for others what he is already doing for himself.

Questions? Comments? TechCheck@cnbc.com

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