Old guard investor Tim Draper made a name for himself with mammoth VC returns on mainstream companies like Hotmail and Skype, then surprised many by retreating from his own firm firm. Now we know why: he's pushing to divide California into six new states, with Silicon Valley as the new separatist jewel of the union.
The "Six Californias" proposal, unearthed by TechCrunch, is an almost parodic capstone for a year that's seen plenty of kooky secessionist bluster. But Tim Draper is a man who's deadly serious about dumb ideas—and he has so much money, he'll command attention for a scheme as radical as this.
The plan (which would of course require federal affirmation even if Californians approved) is to subdivide the existing state into six smaller, new states: Jefferson, North California, Central California, West California, South California, and, of course, Silicon Valley, which would receive its own state government and elected officials in our federal legislature. The Sean Parkers and Peter Thiels of our nation would finally get their enclave, an anti-regulatory Xanadu comprised not of noble yeoman, toilers, artists, or thinkers, but app-hucksters and Tesla-driving engineers. Not content with squeezing tax breaks out of San Francisco, Draper's new state could be a haven for everything tech—a territory dedicated to an industry. The state song? This. The state bird? A homeless person with wings, flying far, far away from San Francisco, now a state capital.
TechCrunch points out that "getting such a measure on California's wacky ballot will be no easy task," as "attempts to get initiatives on the state ballot can cost millions of dollars, and often fail." Though it's a longshot, Draper absolutely has any requisite millions. He also has the fierce anti-government guts to push forward with something this insane—it's the same man who has decried Washington as a "cancer" in America, and urged its relocation.
It also makes a lot of stupid sense. Time and time again, Silicon Valley espouses, almost theatrically performs its disdain for the rest of the cosmos. There are the Hackers, the Makers, the Change the World-ers—and then there are the rest of us. There are the homeless, and there are the condo-dwelling. There are the people in the Twitter cafeteria, and then there's everyone else beneath it. Techies will go to greath lengths to insulate themselves from anyone else they don't consider insturmental to their hacker heaven on earth—whether that means holing up in a luxury commune, or absconding to a mountaintop. Californians who aren't actively contributing to the software GDP will be out on their own—not our problem anymore, farm boys!
It's safe to assume that California will not, for all Draper and his money's efforts, be split six ways. But tech's general will to divide, to retreat, to hole up with all the other jerks and build a billion new ways to have your dry cleaning picked up via iPhone—needs no vote, and is already strongly ratified.
Photo of Tim Draper: Getty