The Future. After years of mystery, Flannery Associates, a group of high-profile tech heads and VCs, has unveiled their identity as the primary stakeholders of a controversial land development project in Northern California. Apparently, they’ve been pooling together their money for a new kind of startup: a utopian city. While billionaire titans of industry (Elon Musk, Marc Lore) love to wax poetic about dreams of building cities in their image, the VIP Rolodex of backers and the amount of land already acquired might actually make this project a reality.
Silicon Valley 2.0
Flannery Associates has come out of stealth.
- The group is run by former Goldman Sachs trader Jan Sramek and backed by investors like LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, a16z’s Marc Andreessen and Chris Dixon, and philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs.
- It plans to create a new city in Solano County (60 miles northeast of San Francisco) “with tens of thousands of new homes, a large solar energy farm, orchards with over a million new trees, and over 10,000 acres of new parks and open space.”
- The hope is to build a community that “could generate thousands of jobs and be as walkable as Paris or the West Village in New York.”
To that end, Flannery Associates has already purchased 52,000 acres of land for over $800 million (sometimes paying five times the market rate), even though most of it’s zoned for agricultural use and will require the vote of residents for approval to break ground. They’ll also need government sign-off due to all the land they now own around Travis Air Force Base.
So, why the wild plan to build a new city instead of just helping to restore struggling San Francisco? According to another investor, Sequoia Capital chairperson Michael Moritz, the whole point is to ditch SF. “This effort should relieve some of the Silicon Valley pressures we all feel — rising home prices, homelessness, congestion, etc.”
It sounds a lot like leaving the playground before you up your toys.