Tim Draper’s latest zany idea: Divide California into six new states!

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.)


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  • LeftCoastCranky

    Congressional Republicans need not be worried, they might get four or maybe five new GOP Californias. If anyone thinks Southern, Central and rural CA might still have progressive majorities they are smoking some of Humboldt’s finest weed.

    I wonder if everyone living in the new CA state of Silicon Valley must sign up to upgrading their smart phones, tablets, wearable/implantable devices and laptops every year and then must tweet every day, post to FB, G+, Tumblr. The newest app must be downloaded. Of course we would have to check in with Foursquare every minute of the day, buy with Square, Google Wallet etc, wear Google goggles and all the smart devices will have to have the GPS turned on all the time. Netflix and youtube videos will be autofed into your head via an implantable device. We can then wait for Amazon and others to bombard our homes or will they fine tune to deliver to where the GPS says where we are currently located ?( Mr. Draper, pl. fund my idea) with drone delivered packages. I saved the best for the last: we would also have to read every nugget of “wisdom” by a twenty something startup millionaire, angel investor, VC. I am so excited I can’t wait for this utopia…

  • Justin Gaynor

    The initiative claims that California is “ungovernable.” I guess we should add a rider to the initiative stating that henceforth all grass should stop being bright orange. It makes about as much sense.