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“The New Utopia of Silicon Valley Billionaires: Sir Michael Moritz’s Farm City Project”

VSAmong the billionaires, one utopia follows another. After the separatist islands of libertarian Peter Thiel, a floating (fiscal) paradise that never leaves the waters, here is the project City in the Fields by investor Michael Moritz, 69, Silicon Valley’s man of the moment. Originally from Wales, Sir Michael Moritz – knighted by the Queen of England in 2013 – was for almost four decades one of the leading lights of Sequoia, an investment firm with a portfolio valued at $53 billion (€49.67 billion). A former journalist, he published the first Apple story in 1984 (Apple game. The Great Adventure of Apple Computer, Denoel, 1987). He is no stranger to crazy projects.

In 2017, the billionaire had a vision for a new city northeast of San Francisco. Another opportunity for the suburbs; A city built not for cars, but for peace and pedestrians. At the time, new technology capital was at its peak, but the first signs of disillusionment appeared. There was an outcry against “Google buses,” those private shuttles that brought programmers to the office to the detriment of public transportation. Today, employees don’t want to return to their open spaces more than twice a week, despite the sushi bars and vinyasa yoga sessions. Traveling is boring to them, traffic stresses them out, even in a Tesla.

Michael Moritz and his friends found the perfect environment in eastern Solano County, 140 kilometers from Silicon Valley. The “technicians” would be at peace among the cows, sheep, barley and wheat on the edge of the Sacramento River Delta, a haven for migratory birds. The region is mainly agricultural. You only needed to buy land. Incorporated under the name Flannery Associates, the investors bought parcels of land, one after the other, at well above market value, from operators bound by secrecy. Farmers who refuse to sell face criminal charges from Flannery Associates for colluding illegally to drive up prices.

Everything is within walking distance

In early August, the group unmasked and publicly revealed the project. Among them, in addition to Michael Moritz, are several well-known names in technology: LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, venture capitalist John Doerr, Stripe founders Patrick and John Collison, Steve Jobs’ widow, Lauren Powell Jobs, and major investor Marc Andreessen. In five years, the partners acquired 22,000 acres worth $800 million. Their goal is to promote affordability in a state where real estate prices are undermining the American Dream.

Source: Le Monde



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