Internet Cities: Building the Future 🌇
If someone were to ask you 10 years ago which city was most ideal if you’re trying to pursue a role in tech or raise money from VCs, we would bet that 99.99% of people would say San Francisco. While there’s still some truth to that statement, over the past few years there’s been an influx of investors, founders, and operators moving to a place with excellent nightlife, beaches, culture, and now opportunity.
You’ve guessed it…Miami baby! *cues Miami by Will Smith*
Over the past few years, we’ve seen a mass exodus of major companies from SF to… basically everywhere. Just to name a few, Tesla and Oracle both moved their headquarters from Palo Alto to Austin, and a16z moved their headquarters to “the cloud” with remote offices in key cities across the US.
Is this a sign of a dwindling SF market? The sign of a move to more decentralized and dispersed opportunity? Maybe all of the above?
No matter what you infer from this trend, it’s undeniable that we’re headed to a world where you don’t have to be based in any one city to access opportunities, and that’s a beautiful thing. That’s why this week we’re breaking down a topic that is still in its earliest stages, but has the potential to revolutionize the way we operate in the world.
Introducing internet cities: a traditional-like city… but governed on the internet…
One thing that Web3 empowers is the ability to organize and govern communities from all over the world. Blockchain has changed how we think about currency and companies, and even how we’re empowered to come together to do things like play video games or even purchasing historical documents. But this raises another interesting question:
What does this mean for the modern definition of cities?
Introducing internet cities - communities that hold the same sovereignty (read: power or authority) of a traditional city-state, but governing itself through blockchain technology on the internet.
Though a rather novel concept, there’s been a lot of thought leadership on the space. For example, Vitalik Buterin, founder of Ethereum (yes, the whole blockchain) authored how city governance can be managed on blockchains (CrytpoCities here), and similarly Balaji Srinivasan, ex-CTO of Coinbase, introduced the idea of Network States (The Network States here).
And no matter which article you read, it boils down to a few key ideas - all agreed upon in consensus by the group founding the internet city:
A network of individuals all under the same leadership or authority
An integrated cryptocurrency
A united, definitive purpose
A sense of national consciousness
And plan to crowdfund a territory (the bridge of the digital world to the physical world)
Why would you ever go to an internet city?
We love a “close your eyes and imagine” exercise at W3FTC, so here’s another one to help you understand the benefits of an internet city.
Imagine you have an issue with the grass in your neighborhood that you want solved ASAP:
Who do I contact and how? Internet cities change the design of an institution - there’s no longer a central authority. And you don’t dial a number and eventually get redirected to the right person to solve your problem. Instead you contact the entire network with your issue, and its directed to the correct person (or group of people instantly).
When will this grass problem be addressed? “As soon as we can” - says the traditional city receptionist, hesitantly and unconfidently. In an internet city, it’s much more nimble. Instead the internet city can quickly mobilize resources to address your concern.
Why is the grass like this in the first place? Unfortunately, there’s a lot of corruption across cities all around the world, even in our backyards. And sadly, your grass might be that way because a certain member of your community is paying under the table for the local government to keep it that way. Hella corrupt (and weird to think of, really) but definitely happening. Just not in internet cities. Here the power is distributed among members based on how much they contribute to its growth and no one person ever holds the majority of the power.
Let’s back this up with some examples
Now if you’re like us, this may still sound like a super interesting concept that’s hard to put in perspective. Cities? On the internet? Hmmm… What does rent look like? 🤔 Sadly, you won’t find any rent prices on Zillow (yet), but there’s a handful of interesting projects that may help map that city in your mind (pun intended hehe).
CityDao: is exploring decentralized asset ownership on the blockchain, starting with a piece of land in Wyoming where each parcel of land is an NFT that can be governed
Afropolitan: is launching the first-ever country on the internet through a Pan African Network State focused on helping one billion Africans unleash their maximum potential. Eche Emole, CEO and Founder of Afropolitan, describes it as “Wakanda on chain”
Praxis: is a new Mediterranean-style city-state where community members live in an autonomous charter-state built on a decentralized crypto economy
And while some of you might still be skeptical, remember those thought leaders we mentioned a little earlier? They, alongside a few industry heavyweights, have tapped ALL the way in:
Vitalik Buterin is a citizen of CityDao
Balaji Srinivasan was an early investor in Afropolitan
Peter Thiel, the first outside investor in Facebook, was an early investor in Praxis
Pack your bags! We’re moving to Miami? Or an Internet City? Or…?
While the crypto-hype, no income tax, and Ocean Drive in Miami might be calling your name, you may not have to move there. That’s the beauty of Web3 - it’s a globally connected world and we can work from anywhere and everywhere!
And while your interests might be piqued by the idea of your local problems being addressed much faster on the internet, we have to remember that these projects are still very nascent. Once they start to scale and bridge that digital-physical divide, they may be a valid option for future cities! In the meantime, we may see more local governments enable blockchain as new forms of governance.
Thanks for reading, as always! Also, if you enjoy our newsletter, please share them with a friend or two. :) We really appreciate the support!