San Francisco billionaires have been snatching up land in California in a bid to build a new city. They aren't the first of the super rich who have attempted to build utopias.

Left to right: Marc Andreeseen, Lauren Powell Jobs, and Michael Moritz are some of the prominent Silicon Valley investors who have backed Flannery Associates's pursuit to build a new city in California.
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  • It recently came out that members of the Silicon Valley elite invested in a company that has bought thousands of acres outside San Francisco.

  • Their plan, backed by Marc Andreessen and Michael Moritz, seems to be to build a utopia of sorts.

  • They aren't the first of the super rich to want to build their own cities.

For some billionaires and tech entrepreneurs it's not enough to have a mansion in Silicon Valley, ski chalet in Aspen, summer house on Nantucket, and compound in Miami — they also want to build their own cities.

Some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley, including Marc Andreessen, Reid Hoffman, and Laurene Powell Jobs, have invested in a company that has been buying up land near San Francisco, California, in a what seems like an attempt to construct a city from scratch.

The idea is nothing new: From Peter Thiel, who planned to build a floating city off French Polynesia, to Larry Ellison, who owns 98% of the Hawaiian island Lanai, several members of the uber-wealthy class have poured millions into attempting to build their own fiefdoms.

Here are some of the planned utopias that the world's richest have tried to build over the years. 

Marc Andreessen, Reid Hoffman, Laurene Powell Jobs, and Michael Moritz are some of the top Silicon Valley investors who have poured money into a mysterious company that has been buying up land in California.

Entrepreneur Marc Andreessen speaks onstage during TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2016 at Pier 48 on September 13, 2016 in San Francisco, California.
Marc Andreessen backed Flannery Associates' plan to build a new city in California, The New York Times reported.Steve Jennings/Getty Images

Over the past few years, Flannery Associates has doled out about $800 million on thousands of acres of land in northern California, The New York Times reported.

While details of planned community are not known, Flannery Associates pitched the idea of creating a walkable city powered by clean energy in 2017. The location — less than 100 miles from San Francisco — is mostly made up of farmland.

Taking the lead on the plans is Jan Sramek, a 36-year-old former Goldman Sachs trader who was once named the youngest ever Financial News rising star.



They aren't the only ones looking to build a new city. Elon Musk plans to build his own town for SpaceX and The Boring Company workers.

Elon Musk.
Elon Musk is planning to build a company town, The Wall Street Journal reported in March.Michael Gonzalez/Getty Images

The billionaire and his associates have bought up at least 3,500 acres of land in Bastrop, Texas, about 35 miles outside of Austin, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Signs for a town called "Snailbrook" — a reference to The Boring Company's mascot — have already begun popping up in the area, Texas resident Chap Ambrose told Insider.

Musk and his employees have described the vision for the city as a "sort of Texas utopia along the Colorado River," the Journal reported. The town of prefabricated homes will be outfitted with a pool, an outdoor sports area, and a gym, as well as a charter school, the publication has said.

The Tesla CEO also plans to build a private compound just outside of the town where he could live, according to the report.


Musk has also said he wants to construct a city 350 miles away, near SpaceX's launch facilities.

Elon Musk also named a town in Boca Chica, Texas "Starbase."
Musk has talked of building a town near SpaceX's launch site in Boca Chica, Texas as well.JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

In 2021, billionaire announced his plans to create a city called "Starbase" in Boca Chica, Texas, about 350 miles from Snailbrook.

While SpaceX employees have taken over much of Boca Chica, it's unclear whether Musk ever fully established the city, and an official municipality of Starbase has yet to be reported.

Musk's two cities are presumably, at least in part, an attempt to address the high cost of living for SpaceX and The Boring Company workers — an issue that Musk has commented on in the past.

But Texans near both locations have spoken out against Musk's plans for a new town.

In March, several hundred Texans gathered at a meeting in Bastrop to comment on The Boring Company's plans to dump 142,000 gallons of treated wastewater per day into the Colorado River. Similarly, in Boca Chica, locals have sued SpaceX, claiming its rocket tests have caused public beaches to be continually closed and have negatively impacted wildlife.


And of course there's also Musk's plan to build a self-sustaining city on Mars.

A digital image of Mars.
Musk has long talked about colonizing Mars.Getty Images

The SpaceX founder first mentioned the idea of building a Martian metropolis in 2014, and it's become one of his most popular talking points in the years since.

Last year, Musk said he anticipates colonizing Mars will be "cramped, difficult, hard work." He has said he hopes the people that would colonize Mars would take the opportunity to "rethink society."

"It's very important to emphasize that Mars, especially in the beginning, will not be luxurious," Musk said.

SpaceX plans to build the self-sustaining city in the coming decades, but the billionaire has said he anticipates he will be "long dead" before his dream fully becomes reality. For now, SpaceX's Starship has yet to land on the moon, much less Mars.


In 2021, former Walmart CEO Marc Lore announced plans to build a futuristic utopia called "Telosa."

Renderings of futuristic towers appear in skyline of Telosa, a city created by Marc Lore
Ex-Walmart CEO Marc Lore has talked of building a utopia called Telosa.BIG and Bucharest Studio

The name Telosa comes from an ancient Greek word meaning "highest purpose."

At the time, Lore said he wanted to build an egalitarian utopia for 50,000 residents as soon as 2030. Lore has said the city would be governed by "equitism" — seemingly a mix of equality and capitalism.

While he's never said exactly where Telosa would be built, he did say it would be in the desert, and that it would offer its citizens equal access to education, healthcare, and transportation. Residents would get around in autonomous vehicles, and the city would run on renewable energy, according to Telosa's website.

The website estimates the endeavor would cost about $400 billion and says citizens would likely be selected through an application process. It is unclear where Lore's plans for the futuristic city stand today.


Billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel also had a plan for a utopian metropolis — though he pitched that it would be on a paradisiacal island.

Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, Palantir Technologies, and Founders Fund, holds hundred dollar bills as he speaks during the Bitcoin 2022 Conference at Miami Beach Convention Center on April 7, 2022 in Miami, Florida.
Peter Thiel wanted to create communities at sea.Marco Bello/Getty Images

In 2008, Thiel launched a mission to develop a floating city that would operate independently from existing nations.

The billionaire investor said the city would be libertarian and "an escape from politics in all its forms." He launched the Seasteading Institute with Google software engineer Patri Friedman to develop its plans.

The group had an initial agreement to build an inorganic detachable island chain off French Polynesia, but the government said in 2018 that its contract with the Seasteading Institute had become "obsolete" and "does not bind the country in any way."

Thiel left the Seasteading Institute's board in 2011, but to this day, the Seasteading Institute continues to promote the idea on its website.





In Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is constructing a city named "The Line" as part of a larger development called Neom.

The Line Neom
Saudi Arabia is working on a development called Neom.Neom

The Saudi Crown Prince has directed officials to create a city on the scale of the pyramids of Egypt.

Neom, a futuristic megacity development that is located on the Red Sea, has been in the works since 2017. The Wall Street Journal reported in 2019 that plans for the city include artificial rain, a fake moon, robotic maids, robot dinosaurs, a glow-in-the-dark beach, and holographic teachers.

Neom is intended to house millions of people, the majority of whom will live on The Line — a set of two parallel 75-mile-long skyscrapers that will house residences and facilities, including a high-speed train, sports stadium, and yacht marina.


In 2017, Bill Gates reportedly invested about $80 million into plans for a smart city outside of Phoenix, Arizona.

Photograph of Bill Gates wearing a bow-tie and suit whilst smiling
Bill Gates investment firm bought land in Arizona in 2017, according to AZ Central.Taylor Hill/Getty Images

A subsidiary of Gates' investment firm bought land in southwestern Arizona for the construction of a 24,800-acre development called Belmont, which would consist of residences, public schools, and office, commercial, and retail space, AZ Central reported at the time.

The plan was for 80,000 homes to be built, with 3,800 acres reserved for industrial, office, and retail space, 3,400 acres of open space, and 470 acres dedicated to public schools, the local news outlet said.

The agency that holds the property, Belmont Partners, said at the time that the city would be designed to feature high-speed networks, data centers, autonomous cars, new manufacturing technologies, and automated logistics hubs.

It's unclear if there have been any developments since the plans were discovered in 2017.


Larry Ellison has taken a less futuristic, more luxurious approach.

Larry Ellison
Larry Ellison owns a large portion of a Hawaiian island.Oracle

In 2012, the Oracle cofounder bought about 98% of Hawaiian island Lanai for about $300 million, according to Bloomberg.

After acquiring the land, he added a Nobu, created a resort with a wellness center, and renovated the existing hotels on the island.

Since, the island, which is home to about 3,000 people, has become a destination for the ultrawealthy, counting the likes of Tom Cruise, Cindy Crawford, and Will Smith as visitors. Ellison, himself, moved to the island full time in 2020.


Before Ellison bought the island and began upgrading it, the land was owned by billionaire David Murdock, the former chairman of Dole Foods.

four seasons lanai
James Dole used to control the land.Courtesy of Four Seasons

Murdock bought the land in 1985. Before that, the land was controlled by James Dole, the man who established the Hawaiian Pineapple Company, which later became Dole Food Company.


Victoria's Secret and Bath & Bodywork's billionaire Les Wexner built up his own town in Ohio.

Les Wexner has been building up a town in Ohio over the past few decades.
Les Wexner has been building up a town in Ohio over the past few decades.Maddie McGarvey/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Wexner decided to build his country home in New Albany, Ohio in the 1980s, Bloomberg reported in 2019.

Since, he's built his own 30-room mansion in the community and acquired 10,000 acres of around it — which encompasses the entire town, Bloomberg reported.

Over the past 40 years, he's developed the land, constructing rows of Georgia style brick mansions that are virtually identical, the publication said. He spends his Saturday mornings driving around to make sure everything is "remaining true to the original vision."

Jeffrey Epstein reportedly had a hand in helping the billionaire create the town and invested millions of dollars into the project, New York Magazine reported in 2019.

The median listing price for homes in the town is over $500,000, according to



Billionaire investor Mark Cuban bought Mustang, Texas in 2021.

Dallas Mavericks Owner, Mark Cuban smiles during Game 2 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Western Conference Finals on May 20, 2022 at Chase Center in San Francisco, California.
Mark Cuban bought Mustang, Texas in 2021.Andrew Bernstein/Getty Images

The longtime "Shark Tank" host bought the small town for about $2 million as a favor to a dying friend, Marty Price.

Price owned the town with two others and did not want his wife to inherit a ghost town, The New York Times reported at the time.

The town was incorporated in 1973 when it only had two businesses, a strip bar, and an adult novelty shop, the Times wrote. When it was initially incorporated, the town was home to about 21 people, but after the businesses eventually closed, the residents moved away.

"I don't know what if anything I will do with it," Cuban told the Dallas Morning News in 2021.


"King of cashmere" Brunello Cucinelli has been working to restore a small hamlet in Italy for the past 30 years.

Brunello Cucinelli headquartered his luxury brand in a small hamlet in Italy.
Brunello Cucinelli headquartered his luxury brand in a small hamlet in Italy.Alessia Pierdomenico/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The billionaire owner of the self-named luxury brand set up his headquarters in Solomeo, a commune in Italy, in 1985, and has turned it into a sort of company town for Brunello Cucinelli SpA and its employees .

Cucinelli has said that he believes the architecture "needs to symbolize higher meanings besides serving a material purpose." The commune has an open-air theater, a library, and an 18th-century church, Bloomberg reported.


Billionaires like Kevin Plank and Dan Gilbert have also invested their money into towns and cities.

Dan Gilbert
Dan Gilbert has invested his money into revitalizing Detroit.REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

Plank, the founder of Under Armour, announced his $5.5 billion plan for revitalizing Baltimore, Maryland — where his company is based — in 2016.

Similarly, Gilbert, the cofounder of Rocket Mortgage, announced a $500 million investment in plans to revitalize Detroit, Michigan in 2021. His company has poured billions of dollars into the city since moving its headquarters to downtown Detroit in 2010.


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