Photo Credit: GGD News
A group of Silicon Valley tycoons have been quietly buying land near San Francisco’s Bay Area. Their goal is to create a brand new city, complete with residential neighborhoods, a performing arts center, and orchards with over a million trees planted. Key investors include Reid Hoffman (the CEO of LinkedIn), Marc Andreessen, Chris Dixon, and former GitHub CEO Nat Friedman. The development project is being carried out by Flannery Associates, led by Jan Sramek a former finance whiz kid and Goldman Sachs trader. Over the past five years, the firm (created by the investor group) has been purchasing land near San Francisco and Silicon Valley in Solano County.
No exact reason has been given as to why so many influential investors want to build a new city. Flannery Associates has maintained a mysteriously low-profile. However, many insiders believe the move is to defy San Francisco and Bay area city officials. Building a new urban utopia could be a response, an expression of frustration. San Francisco has one of the highest rates of crime and homelessness in the United States. Billionaire Michael Moritz, the chairperson of Sequoia Capital and part of the Flannery Associates venture told the New York Times, “This effort should relieve some of the Silicon Valley pressures we all feel — rising home prices, homelessness, congestion etc.”
So far, Flannery Associates have secured over 52,000 acres of farmland and 140 properties from an estimated 400 owners. Other reported features of the yet-to-be-named city include a solar farm, new houses, and over ten thousand acres of parks and open space. A majority of the land purchased is zoned for agricultural use. To meet city development targets, Flannery Associates will still have to jump local bylaws and districting hurdles. Many other major tech players are involved and have put money up to be part of the venture; including Emerson Collective founder Laurene Powell Jobs, Patrick and John Collison (the sibling co-founders of Stripe), and investment giant, Andreessen Horowitz.