Silicon Valley billionaires have spent over $800 million to build a new city near San Francisco

August 29, 2023

A mystery company backed by Silicon Valley billionaires has been snatching up land at up to $15,000 per acre in a northern California county in an apparent bid to build an entirely new city in the state. The company, Flannery Associates, has over $800 million to purchase thousands of acres of farmland in Solano County, which sits northeast of San Francisco, court documents obtained by Business Insider show.

The New York Times has reported that the investors include some of the Valley’s most recognizable names, from Marc Andreessen to Laurene Powell Jobs.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that Flannery has purchased about 52,000 acres of farmland around Travis Air Force Base since 2018. According to the report, government officials began investigating the purchases due to concerns that foreign interests may be behind the company.

“So the entire base is encircled now,” Catherine Moy, mayor of Fairfield, told ABC 7 News. “So there’s no part that isn’t touched by Flannery.”

Little is known about Flannery Associates or its specific city plans. According to the Times, the company is led by Jan Sramek, a 36-year-old former Goldman Sachs trader.

Flannery’s backers include Andreessen, Powell Jobs, Michael Moritz of Sequoia Capital, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, and others, according to the report.

It’s unclear how much they each invested in the company. In 2017, Flannery Associates pitched an idea to turn the Solano County land into a walkable city powered by clean energy and housing tens of thousands of residents, the Times reported. Real estate data shows that the current median housing price in the county is $585,000.

Silicon Valley has long sought to build a city from scratch, sometimes with a utopian vision of a “smart city.”

In 2016, Y Combinator, a Silicon Valley startup accelerator, began looking into how it could build a city that could address California’s affordable housing crisis.

“We want to build cities for all humans—for tech and non-tech people,” the accelerator wrote. “We’re not interested in building ‘crazy libertarian utopias for techies.'”

Tech founders, including Bill Gates and Elon Musk, also have had visions of their own cities. Musk recently purchased 3,500 acres of land outside of Austin, Texas, to build a town he intends to call “Snailbrook.”

Sources told the Journal that he envisioned a “sort of Texas utopia along the Colorado River.”

Research contact: @BusinessInsider