Blockchains, owner of 67,000 acres at TRIC, unveils plans to build ‘smart city’ east of Reno
STOREY COUNTY, Nev. — Back in January, tech startup Blockchains LLC turned — and perhaps scratched — heads when it purchased over 67,000 acres of Northern Nevada desert in $170 million cash.
Eleven months later, the mysterious startup has revealed what it plans to do with its plot of land roughly the size of neighboring Reno: build a “smart city” built on blockchain technology.
At a launch event in Prague, Czech Republic, on Thursday, Nov. 1, Blockchains CEO Jeffrey Berns unveiled the ambitious undertaking of the company, which owns a whopping 62 percent of the space at the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center (TRIC) east of Reno in Storey County.
Berns said the proposed “Innovation Park” would “showcase the true power of the public blockchain” through a series of projects, including a Blockchains campus, an e-sports arena, a content creation studio, and a residential community.
He said the master-planned community would include houses, apartments, condos, banks, markets, stores and schools, all using “the public blockchain wherever possible.”
Berns said the company’s planned R&D facility will incubate “life-changing technologies” — artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and 3D printing — with blockchain technology at the root of it all.
Originally devised for the digital currency Bitcoin, blockchain is a public electronic ledger that can be openly shared among disparate users and creates an unchangeable record of their transactions, each one time-stamped and linked to the previous one.
“Imagine a world,” Berns told the audience, “where anybody, anywhere can collaborate; establish the rules of the collaboration; enforce those rules; exchange value; and do it all on the blockchain.
“No government, no banks, no corporation — just trusting in math.”
A multimillionaire class-action attorney who took on big banks, Berns admitted his background isn’t in blockchain. Yet, he has such unwavering faith in the technology that he has invested $300 million into the company to get it launched. So far, Blockchains employs 71 people who work inside the company’s 25,000-square-foot facility that opened in June.
“I’m not a developer, I have no idea how to code, I’m older than most of you in the audience, and I come from a profession that many think causes more problems than solutions,” he said. “But I will tell you this: In all of my life, in all of my career as a lawyer, I never saw a technology that I believed in more, or one that I thought could really change the balance of the power back to us instead of corporations, instead of Wall Street.”
PARTNERING WITH NV ENERGY
Berns also mentioned the company’s recent announcement that it signed a memorandum of understanding with NV Energy to work together on blockchain-based energy projects.
According to an Oct. 31 press release, Blockchains and NV Energy will pilot concepts that place the customer in control of energy creation, consumption, storage and transactions.
“The goal of this collaboration is to create technology solutions that will produce customer-centric energy platforms powered by public blockchain, all with the intent of integrating approved incubations into Nevada’s energy framework,” Berns said in a statement.
Added NV Energy CEO Paul Caudill: “We are thrilled to have access to Nevada-based experts in this cutting edge technology, and to be able to grow solutions that empower our customers.”
According to the release, any projects incubated and ready for implementation will first be presented to, and approved by, the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN).
Berns said the collaboration with NV Energy is part of a series of announcements that will be coming out over the next six months.
“The thing that I like most about entrepreneurship is I can work toward something that I’m passionate about and be at the forefront of the change that I want to see happen,” said Priyanka Senthil, a senior at Davidson Academy in Reno and co-founder of startup company AUesome.