Greece could become the location for a private city, catering to computer techies, free of government control according to the plans of Sillicon Valley Tech Bros Dryden Brown and Charlie Callinan.
The two entrepreneurs are looking at safe havens to build a privately owned city free of U.S. government control, for residents of like minds and values, according to the proposal they have posted on PitchBook Platform. They have targeted the Mediterranean for its beautiful beaches and incredible mountains.
At 25 years old, Brown of New York University and Callinan of Boston College, have already created a model with Bluebook Cities. The co-founders created the model in 2019.
Mediterranean Climate Ideal for Privately Owned City
According to Brown, these tech hubs, based on the model of Silicon Valley, should be “in a climate conducive to productive work.” He added “a Mediterranean climate is ideal.”
Brown, the CEO of Bluebook Cities, states “The biggest problem in current cities is that the people who run them don’t have incentives that are clearly linked to the welfare of the average resident of the city. Whereas if you actually own the city, your main incentive is to get people to move to that city.”
“We’re building a new city with members of our society, Praxis,” Brown stated. And that society will be comprised of “founders, engineers, artists, researchers, and young aspirants building towards a shared vision for the future through the pursuit of heroic projects.”
“Praxis” was chosen as the name of the society because they prefer “process” as opposed to “theory.” According to Brown, “We think putting those ideas into practice is what we need to do at this point.”
The website describes Praxis as a “society of pioneers racing to settle the first resident-owned Affinity City, developed by Bluebook Cities on the Mediterranean,” explaining how the global reach of the internet helps build a community of “new cities organized around shared values and glorious visions for the future.”
In a log entered on the Praxis Society site Brown writes, “Today, we have an opportunity to reimagine cities. Software engineers built the infrastructure to support the migration of the knowledge economy from the office to the cloud. A virus catalyzed this migration. Now we can live and work wherever we choose, with whoever we choose.”
Brown added, “Tomorrow’s cities will be organized around the warmth of the tribe and the growth propelled by a unified vision for the future. We envision human potential unleashed, an aggregation of talent never before seen, enabled by the global reach of the internet.”
Brown stated “Shared values determine which sort of future you want to pursue. There are certainly a bunch of other important factors, like having really talented people, having a good education system.”
“The governments we’ve been speaking to run smaller countries,” stated Brown. “They’re more nimble. Sure, governments aren’t able to make decisions as quickly as startups, but I do find ones that really want to get things done.”
Brown said, “We are building the city Silicon Valley deserves.”
When partnering with governments, there’s a lot of bureaucracy and paperwork. “What we’re offering governments is a totally unprecedented human capital transfer,” stated Brown. “It’s like a slice of Silicon Valley that’s been dislodged due to COVID. You might never have the opportunity to pull in as many talented people at once ever again. So for governments, there’s a strong incentive to move quickly, at least in this one instance.”
The masterplan for Bluebook Cities includes three core elements. Building a city in the cloud populated by amazing people working towards a shared vision for the future, partnering with a thoughtful government to build a new city and growing the city and building the future humanity deserves, together.
So far, their community remains online, in “the cloud.” But they expect to enlist around 2,000 willing participants to pack up and move to their yet-to-be-built city.
Pronomos Capital Could Fund Private City
With the backing of angel investor Peter Thiel, who has already invested nearly $9 million in Pronomos Capital, a venture capital that focuses solely on startups like Bluebook Cities, the company is expected to soon morph the online community into a private city reality.
“When COVID happened, the labor market migrated to the cloud. Now you can move sort of wherever you want and your job will follow, if you are a knowledge worker in many cases,” Brown told Justin Murphy via a video conference. “And I think this is going to create a shift in urban dynamics that’s greater than we have seen in 300 years, where people are no longer moving into cities for the labor market.”
Brown and Callinan are currently building their online community via Praxis, a social-media platform for those interested in possibly joining Bluebook Cities. They must meet their exclusive criteria, where they can communicate directly amongst each other.
Brown stated there are issues that could disrupt this vision of an affinity city. “If San Francisco gets radically better, or New York, and none of these people no longer want to leave,” the affinity city idea might stop dead in its tracks. “I think that is fairly unlikely but who knows? So there could be a demand problem.”
He also cited finance sourcing as a potential issue, describing how it would take at least $500 million for Phase One of building a city to come into fruition. Brown stated “You’re joining a startup city and you’re owning equity in the startup city by living there.”
In normal municipalities, connecting public interest and private interest usually take the form of investments in the public-private partnership (PPP) formula. This type of investment is most effective to the specifics of urban projects, that generate high financial input and high risk.
“We want young and ambitious people who want to go out in the frontier and build the future,” stated Brown. With Greek government cooperation, perhaps the affinity city Brown and Callinan envision will land on the ground in Greece.