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Tech Billionaires Behind Secretive Plan for New California Metropolis

Some of the biggest and richest names in the tech and finance worlds are reported to be investors in a secrecy-cloaked company that has been buying up large tracts of the San Francisco Bay Area, apparently in a quest to create an entirely new city.

Quoting three unnamed sources, The New York Times reported that backers of the firm called Flannery Associates include venture capitalists Michael Mortiz, Marc Andreessen and Chris Dixon, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, Stripe co-founders Patrick and John Collison, former GitHub CEO Nat Friedman, Cue co-founder Daniel Gross, and Laurene Powell Jobs, founder of the Emerson Collective and widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

The initiative—which has scooped up $800 million worth of land near Travis Air Force Base since 2018—was spearheaded by former Goldman Sachs trader Jan Sramek, 36, the Times reports.

And a pitch the paper obtained reveals the goal was to build a walkable, clean-energy city an hour north of Silicon Valley.

Spokesman Brian Brokaw, who represents the investors, said in a statement to KGO-TV that the investors “care deeply about the future of Solano County and California and believe their best days are ahead.”

“We are proud to partner on a project that aims to deliver access to good-paying jobs, affordable housing, clean energy, sustainable infrastructure, open space, and a healthy environment to residents of Solano County. We are excited to start working with residents and elected officials, as well as with Travis Air Force Base, on making that happen. That conversation starts next week, and we look forward to sharing more then,” Brokaw said.

The disclosure of the investors’ names came days after Solano County residents began receiving a mysterious survey questioning them about whether they would support a new city.

Survey questions referred to tens of thousands of new homes, a solar farm, 1 million new trees, and thousands of jobs. Flannery did not confirm whether it sent the survey, but locals are skeptical about what they have heard so far.

“It’s an area that is known for its drought conditions. It makes zero sense. There’s no mass transit. It does not have fresh water. There is some water, but not enough for tens of thousands of homes. You’d have to dig wells or convince Fairfield to give water and that would be a big fat no from us,” Fairfield Mayor Catherine Moy told KGO.

“The roads out there are already dangerous. Highway 12 is the highway that goes through there out to Highway 99 and Highway 5. It’s called Blood Alley for a reason,” she added.

Flannery’s land purchases were so secretive that even the government did not know who was behind the company or what its intent was. Officials opened an investigation as it snapped up more and more parcels near Travis AFB, concerned about a national security threat. Flannery’s attorney told The Wall Street Journal last month that proximity to the base was not a motivating factor.

The group is now ready to talk to officials at Travis and has also contacted the offices of Rep. Mike Thompson and Rep. John Garamendi to discuss the plans.


August 2023