Billionaire venture capitalists Tim Draper and John Doerr

Love him or hate him, you can’t accuse venture capitalist Tim Draper of thinking inside the box. The guy whose firm made early bets on companies like Hotmail, Skype and Baidu has been a longtime dabbler in everything from efforts to teach kids about entrepreneurship to a statewide school-voucher initiative (which went down in flames despite Draper’s having ponied up $20 million from his own pocket).

And though Draper recently has dialed back his role at Draper Fisher Jurvetson to focus on Draper University of Heroes — his new, zanily named school for aspiring startup CEOs — Tall Tim has definitely not lost his interest in politics. On Friday, he filed a petition with the California Secretary of State’s Attorney General’s office that would divide the Golden State into six new entities.

“One of the states will be called ‘Silicon Valley,’” Draper told me via e-mail the night before dropping his filing. The others are South California, North California, Central California, Coastal California and Jefferson. I have no idea who that last one refers to — Thomas? George? (UPDATE: My esteemed colleague Mike Murphy has hipped me to the brief Jefferson statehood movement)

Actor Sherman Hemsley as George Jefferson - Photo by Michael Ochs Archives

Movin’ on up – photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

– nor did Draper respond to a follow-up email seeking more details. But for the record, yes, Draper understands that Congress, not California voters, would have to approve any new state; the initiative, he told me, “just gets us to the point of asking the feds for six states.”

I’m not entirely sure why Draper thinks this would be a good idea, but I’ve spent enough time with him over the years to figure that it’s because he sees deep inefficiencies in the way the Golden State is currently run. (UPDATE: TechCrunch has the full initiative online, which lays out the rationale.) And he’s not the only one noting that Cali is really several states in one.

Even Draper isn’t enough of a wild-eyed optimist to likely believe this thing has a snowball’s chance of happening — for one thing, a colleague of mine notes, the last thing Congressional Republicans want is several new Dianne Feinsteins on Capital Hill. But he’s surely trying to make a point, and make it loudly enough that people will pay attention. Hey, when you’re a 55-year-old billionaire tycoon, what else are ya gonna do — play golf?

(STILL ANOTHER UPDATE: Draper will be live-streaming a press conference Monday at which he’ll formally unveil the proposal and lay out the deets. It’s at 2 pm Pacific at https://new.livestream.com/pemo/timdraper6CA.)

Peter Delevett Peter Delevett (184 Posts)

Peter Delevett covers startups and venture capital for the San Jose Mercury News. He's been a journalist in Silicon Valley since the dot-com daze.