Silicon Valley millionaires invest 900 million to found a bubble city for the elite

The twists that life gives.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
05 September 2023 Tuesday 10:23
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Silicon Valley millionaires invest 900 million to found a bubble city for the elite

The twists that life gives. Jan Sramek, known as the golden boy of finance, moved to California a decade ago. He was looking for new horizons in the world of technology.

On his fishing trips, he fell in love with that territory of the Sacramento Delta, in Solano County, at the eastern end of the San Francisco Bay. Since buying a house seemed little to him, he decided to found a city in that rural corner. His vision, as a European immigrant, was a kind of Zurich, a city to walk around.

It all started in 2017. He created a company called Flannery Associates, lured Silicon Valley millionaires with his bold idea, and used the money to buy land. Others include philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs; the co-founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman, or the venture capitalist Marc Andreessen. The first check was received from Patrick Collison, chief executive of Stripe, a fast payment platform.

The project was kept secret until a few days ago, without really knowing who was behind the company that was buying land, when Sramek, 36, revealed the California forever website. This site specifies the new version of the utopia of happy arcadia, a bubble isolated from the madding crowd, for which they have already acquired 202 square kilometers of land, according to their information, for which they have invested 900 million dollars. This has made him the largest landowner in the United States. In fact, it is certain that residents of Collinsville, partly destroyed by a fire in 2014, have already begun to leave.

If it's any illustration, San Francisco is 121 km2.

On the web, it is indicated that the alma mater of the idea previously resided "in the most walkable, habitable and sustainable towns and cities in the world." Based on his experience, he is committed to "a new community with well-paid local jobs, solar farms, open spaces, good schools, with public safety, without homeless people, and efficient service infrastructures for water, transportation, and protection from forest fires." ”.

Sramek was best known for what he had left behind. In 2011 he made headlines by leaving investment bank Goldman Sachs at a time when he was described as a child prodigy. His ability is contrasted by his ability to convince a string of investors for this other adventure that, apparently, was impossible.

And now the work of meeting with key political leaders has begun, who, like everyone else, have spent years trying to figure out who was pulling the strings at Flannery Associates. They must be convinced of the feasibility of the project so that they endorse it and give their support.

On the web it is ensured that, in a survey among county residents, they said they were in favor. But building something similar to a city goes further and requires that the urban use of those lands be voted on at the polls, a protection established in 1984.

The mayors of the area describe the project as a "city for the elite." They mistrust intentions. "I can't imagine supervisors allowing such a thing," Vallejo Mayor Robert McConnell told The New York Times (discoverer of the secret). “It amazes me that such smart people waste their time and money on this effort,” he added.