TL;DR: “Introducing Pronomos Capital, an investment fund whose mission is to build prosperous cities that uplift entire regions,” the new venture capital group tweeted. “We do this by working with citizens, states, and developers to upgrade laws and institutions for greater justice and well-being.” It’s backed by cryptocurrency veterans, former seasteaders, and libertarians looking to put their theories into real-world action.
Charter City Fund Pronomos Capital Launches
By now, ideas like those Pronomos Capital purports to back and fund, are well-known to the cryptocurrency ecosystem. At the heart, root of most early crypto projects was a sense of remaking society anew, starting with its monetary arrangements. Considered foundational, fiscal mechanisms for at least the last century have been set by fiat, by a coercive state without much choice. Citizens are born into a tax farm and maybe, if they’re lucky, they are allowed to improve their lot in life.
It’s not too large a leap to believe maybe, just maybe, altering the how and why of money can also change the how and why of governance. This kind of thinking runs along at least two poles: eye-rolling cynics who poo-poo every starry-eyed innovation, and outlandish thinkers who believe human civilization can be top-down administered or designed. There’s been very little actual progress in-between, however: lots of neat conceptual designs, books, articles, websites, but nothing concrete to point at as doable.
Those who’ve dared take-up the idea of making their own country or city or what-have-you appeared to end in disaster, either by way of regional government crackdowns or fraud. Seasteaders, for example, who looked to find pockets of international waters unclaimed by governments, put their ideas to the test off the coast of Thailand recently. It was a fairly modest attempt, something like a perched yurt way out at sea, away from prying governments. Or so they thought. Thai naval command didn’t take to the idea at all, and summoned the gravitas of a national security threat to seize the seastead and seasteaders, threatening them with capital punishment (the couple later relocated to Panama and is safe as of this writing).
Not Giving Up After a Shaky 2019
Around the same time, as fate would have it, another do-it-yourself parcel promise was on considerably dryer land, but its founder was pleading guilty to fraud. Bitcointopia Inc founder Morgan Rockoons was charged with land fraud and wire-related laundering crimes for his involvement in a Nevada-based “Bitcoin City.” There have been successful efforts at a much smaller scale, as the Fort Galt project in Chile, founded by Gabriel Scheare, also proved (though it too had to learn some hard lessons).
Safe to write, the idea’s 2019 was less than stellar in terms of execution. And while most would simply give up on the notion and return to safer intellectual and business, well, waters, Seasteading Institute co-founder Patri Friedman is taking lessons from those higher-profile cases and their troubles, along with lesser-known successes, and doubling-down with Pronomos Capital. The first round of investment for the venture closed with $9 million “anchored” by famed investor Peter Thiel, also an early backer of the seasteading concept. Pronomos is poised to move beyond the, returning to land.
“We invest in founders who partner with govt officials to create human-centric cities that are a) designed as products to attract and uplift citizens & b) have meaningfully different laws and institutions than the surrounding region,” the company explained. Other investors include Jeff Garzik of Bloq and Roger Ver of Bitcoin.com. Light on specifics, the fund seems poised to purchase land from economically distressed parts of the world as an experiment to help alleviate poverty.
“We’re again finishing a decade where digital tech zoomed ahead but social mechanisms plateaued,” the Pronomos team continued. “This is dangerous & unsustainable. Humanity must find ways to apply technology to peaceful coordination if we are to survive. Crypto is working on this for economic transactions… And Pronomos aims to do it for governance. We want to make the 2020s a decade where new cities bring new solutions to modern problems by finding and funding the @BillGates of Gov, the Steve Jobs of Jurisdictions & the @elonmusk of Charter Cities.”
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