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Mike Moritzopolis

The city was Jan Sramek’s brainchild, but he probably couldn’t have gotten the ball rolling without Sir Mike Moritz, who became the linchpin of the plan.
The city was Jan Sramek’s brainchild, but he probably couldn’t have gotten the ball rolling without Sir Mike Moritz, who became the linchpin of the plan. Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images
Theodore Schleifer
September 5, 2023

In October 2017, at Sequoia Capital’s offices in Menlo Park, the legendary investor Mike Moritz found himself scrutinizing a group of unusual mid-20th century maps. Moritz, an avid painter, has been known to walk around with a sketchbook and draw when the mood strikes him. That day, however, he was looking at some sketches of Solano County, a largely agricultural area some 100 miles northeast from Sand Hill Road. The maps had been unfurled on the table by Nat Friedman, an entrepreneur who had come to feel out Moritz on a friend’s moonshot idea: building a new city from scratch.

Moritz, a one-time Time journalist turned early Google investor, was immediately intrigued. And so, a few email introductions later, he decided to make his most ambitious personal investment to date: a campaign to raise close to $1 billion to buy 50,000 acres, mostly from farmers, to build a city for tens of thousands of people in Eastern Solano County. With high enough density and first-in-class transit, Moritz and Friedman hoped to relieve Bay Area housing costs and revitalize the poorest county in the region.