Futurists aim to build semi-autonomous city without “dumb regulations”

Bluebook Cities is looking for 2,000 prospective residents to settle a charter city

The founders aim to make a modern day "Renaissance Florence". (Getty / Illustration by Alison Bushor)
The founders aim to make a modern day "Renaissance Florence". (Getty / Illustration by Alison Bushor)

A company with funding from a Peter Thiel–backed venture capital fund wants folks to pack up and start a semi-autonomous city.

Bluebook Cities is looking for 2,000 people — selected based upon applications — to “settle” its charter city, according to the New York Post. The company said it is “building the city that Silicon Valley deserves.”

The concept of the charter city was conceived by Nobel Prize–winning economist Paul Romer, who used Hong Kong as an example. It’s essentially a semi-autonomous municipality operating outside its host country’s regulatory system.

Bluebook aims to find a host country somewhere in the Mediterranean that won’t hamper it with “dumb regulations,” co-CEO Dryden Brown said.

“We want to partner with a government and build something really cool that works with us and works for them and is mutually beneficial,” Brown said.

Bluebook describes its charter city as a sort of techno-futurist paradise for Silicon Valley types, built “around shared values with talent and vitality exceeding that of Ancient Athens or Renaissance Florence.”

Bluebook contends that “shared values no longer bind cities,” and markets its potential city as an alternative to places like New York and San Francisco.

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Bluebook is building a pool of backers, interested parties and prospective residents through a by-invitation-only social media platform called Praxis.

“Praxis members are shaping our city’s culture,” the Praxis website says.

Membership is said to be strictly limited, which could be designed to convey a sense of exclusivity.

“All applicants are carefully vetted with a written application and numerous phone calls with current members,” the website reads. “New members are rare because membership is sacred.”

Brown said he estimates it would cost around $500 million to develop phase one of the city. The company has some backing from Pronomos Capital, a charter city–specific venture capital fund with investors including Thiel, a billionaire entrepreneur and PayPal co-founder well known for taking down Gawker.

[NYP] — Dennis Lynch