Tech billionaires ID’d as buyers of $800M in Solano County farmland

Michael Moritz, Reid Hoffman, Marc Andreessen, Lauren Powell Jobs seek utopian city

Tech Billionaires ID’d as Buyers of Solano County Farmland
(top) Jan Sramek, Michael Moritz, Reid Hoffman, Marc Andreessen and Chris Dixon; (bottom) Andreessen Horowitz, Patrick and John Collison, Laurene Powell Jobs, Nat Friedman and Daniel Gross; Travis Air Force Base, 690 Airmen Drive (Google Earth, Getty, Linkedin, YouTube, Andreessen Horowitz, Doc Searls/CC BY-SA 2.0, Gobierno de Chile/CC BY 3.0 CL, Web Summit/CC BY 2.0, JD Lasica/CC BY 2.0, startupofyou/CC BY 2.0 by Wikimedia Commons)

Flannery Associates, the mystery company behind $800 million in farmland purchases around Travis Air Force Base, is backed by a who’s who of billionaires from Silicon Valley.

The Folsom-based company with plans to construct a utopian city with “tens of thousands of new homes” in Solano County is spearheaded by Jan Sramek, 36, a former Goldman Sachs trader who has quietly courted some of the tech industry’s biggest names, the New York Times reported, citing unidentified sources.

The company’s pitch: Take a patch of brown hills split by a two-lane road between farms and suburbs, then turn it into a city with tens of thousands of residents, clean energy, public transportation and dense urban life.

The pitch, whose five-year, stealth campaign was unveiled during a recent poll of residents 60 miles northeast of San Francisco, was swallowed by some of Silicon Valley’s richest residents.

Each had become enraptured enough with the idea of building a new city atop former cow pastures to fork out millions to buy up 140 properties spanning “tens of thousands of acres,” according to Catherine Moy, mayor of nearby Fairfield.

They include Michael Moritz, the billionaire venture capitalist, who scribbled a note to one potential investor asking, “Let me know if this tickles your fancy.”

They include Reid Hoffman, the LinkedIn co-founder, venture capitalist and Democratic donor. Marc Andreessen and Chris Dixon, investors at the Andreessen Horowitz venture capital firm. Patrick and John Collison, the sibling co-founders of the payment technology company Stripe.

They include Laurene Powell Jobs, the billionaire widow of Steve Jobs, co-founder and former CEO of Apple.

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And they include Nat Friedman and Daniel Gross, entrepreneurs-turned-investors, according to the Times. Andreessen Horowitz is also a backer. It’s not clear how much each has invested.

Rep. John Garamendi, D-California, who along with Rep. Mike Thompson represents the surrounding region in Congress, said he’s been trying to figure out the company’s identity for four years.

“I couldn’t find out anything,” he said.

Brian Brokaw, a representative for the investor group, said in a statement that the group was made up of “Californians who believe that Solano County’s and California’s best days are ahead.” 

He said Flannery planned to start working with Solano County residents and elected officials, as well as with Travis Air Force Base, next week.

— Dana Bartholomew

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