Back in 2008, Wired Magazine reported that PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel donated $500,000 to launch The Seasteading Institute, a libertarian group “dedicated to creating experimental ocean communities ‘with diverse social, political, and legal systems.‘” It was an attempt to enable people to create their own countries, subject to their own laws, in postage stamp-sized city states on the high seas, outside the territorial jurisdiction of more traditional countries. To avoid the law, create an artificial island and declare its independence.
It is actually an old idea, but apart from Sealand, nothing much has come of it.
However, it is interesting to note that Thiel is also a major investor in online game giant Zynga (as well as in Facebook, where most Zynga games are played until now). Zynga’s latest game, Empire and Allies, is similar to Farmville, but instead of a farm, players get to build what the New York Times describes as “idyllic island nations,” build allegiances with other island nations, and defend these kingdoms from enemies great and small.
The game is the natural next step in Zynga’s growing line up, which started with Farmville and continued on to Cityville. Once people control a farm and a city, the next logical step is to control a country and to build it into an empire
It is also timed perfectly for the rumored release of Zynga’s IPO. Zynga hopes to follow LinkedIn’s debut—though not the fall that LinkedIn soon took, now that its shares are selling at $81.58, less than the initial offering of $83. Having a new game on the market could add some momentum.
And for Peter Thiel, who stands to benefit from an IPO, it’s the kind of game that he has been wanting to play for a very long time.