ADOTAS – Venture capitalist and viral marketing pioneer Tim Draper (above) sure isn’t resting on his laurels these days. As if his phenomenal success in building one of the most recognized VCs in the world wasn’t enough, the Silicon Valley businessman is now spearheading a movement to divide up California, the nation’s most populous state, into six smaller pieces.
Just last week, he received the green light from the state to begin soliciting the 800,000 signatures needed to put his plan on the California ballot.
“Vast parts of our state are poorly served by a representative government,” reads Draper’s plan, which cleared a key government hurdle this week, part of the process to qualify for the ballot. California residents “would be better served by six smaller state governments.”
In a press conference on Monday, Draper discussed how the state once regarded as the country’s hub of innovation has fallen victim to mismanagement, highlighting a need for decentralization. Now many are jobless and public schools, transportation infrastructure and water systems are outdated and in need of repair.
Without change, “it will get worse,” he warned. “California is not working.”
California is home to over 38 million people, Draper’s vision would divide the current Golden State regionally into six pieces: Silicon Valley (which would include San Francisco and nearby counties that are home to tech giants like Facebook and Apple), West California, Jefferson, South California, Central California and North California.
In a philosophical sense, Draper’s ideas parallel those of Balaji Srinivasan, a former lecturer of computational biology at Stanford University who has previously argued that Silicon Valley secede from the U.S.
“Imagine a society of Inverse Amish that lives nearby, peacefully, in the future,” Srinivasan wrote recently in a blog post. “A place where Google Glass wearers are normal, where self-driving cars and delivery drones aren’t restricted by law, and where we can experiment with new technologies without causing undue disruption to others.”
This Utopian vision for Silicon Valley sounds progressive and enticing, as long as it does not generate more economic disparity and trigger political uprising. Haven’t we learned anything from that movie “Elysium”?
Many are doubtful of Draper’s proposal. As TechCruch reported, his plan will face intense hurdles at the federal-level and added scrutiny before even reaching the public ballot. In order to obtain the 800,000 required signatures, the movement will need to invest millions of dollars into guerrilla marketing tactics, such as shepherding troves of signature gatherers to stand in front of grocery stores and coffee shops.
Some argue that Draper’s plan is shortsighted — that sequestering the profitable Silicon Valley from the rest of the state will strip away valuable tax revenues for schools and social services in the cities that need them most.
“California is as diverse geographically as it demographically, but ultimately we all take pride in the fact that we are Californians,” said Matt David, a Republican consultant based in Los Angeles, in an Associated Press report. “Diluting that identity between six states will never happen.”