Startup Societies Network
Don't Argue.

Don't Argue.

Decentralization: Society’s Immune System

Decentralized governance reacts to overcentralization in much the same way an immune system reacts to a viral infection. Throughout history, history has been replete with the rise and inevitable fall of massive empires, each of which fall victim to complacency and corruption. The result often comes with increased war, poverty, corruption, and instability. Historically, decentralized governance has been an antidote that can repair and create new societal institutions dedicated to rule of law, financial freedom, and flourishing human creativity.

The world reached “peak” centralization with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent emergence of the United States as a so-called “hyperpower.” It seemed as though we had reached the end of history — and we couldn’t have been more wrong. New trends, such as blockchain technology, Special Economic Zones, and private cities have moved towards decentralization without the historically traditional component of societal instability and collapse. 

Global momentum is on the side of decentralized governance. At the Startup Societies Network, our goal is to promote the growth of responsible decentralization — and to that end, to foster the spread of “Startup Societies.”

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Decentralizing the World, One Startup Society at a Time.

The Startup Societies Network believes that decentralization cannot occur responsibly without new experiments in governance that differ from pre-existing structures — moves that in effect challenge calcified systems and create alternatives to the status quo.

We call these experiments “startup societies.”

A startup society is any new community (physical or otherwise) that operates under a new, atypical governance model that attempts to address the challenges of modern society. 

Startup societies fall into three main categories:

  1. Physical communities: Physical communities allow people to live and interact in ways not as prevalent or available in a wider community. These types of communities are usually (but not always) focused on a particular social issue or communal way of life. Examples of physical communities include new cities, ecovillages, and intentional communities, such as the Polestar Village in Colorado.
  2. Legal communities: Legal communities are jurisdictions that provide unique policies, laws, regulations, and rules that differ from that of its host community. The most common example of a legal community are Special Economic Zones (SEZs), which are sub-jurisdictions located within a host country, but have adopted policies designed to attract economic investment. Successful SEZs, such as Shenzhen, just outside of Hong Kong, were crucial to China’s economic success and continue to be important engines of the economy.
  3. Digital communities: Digital communities are virtual platforms, protocols, and communities that allow people to interact, share information, and exchange value outside of a centralized governance authority. Common examples include blockchains, Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs), and open-source development communities.
Types of communitiesLearn More

Examples of Startup Societies

Próspera, Honduras
Próspera, Honduras

Próspera, Honduras

Based on the Honduran ZEDE law, Próspera is an entirely new city that has its own civil law and regulatory structure, independent of that of Honduras, though it remains bound by the Honduran constitution and its criminal law code. Inspired by successful special economic zones such as Shenzhen in China or Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, Próspera intends to make it much easier for residents to interact with government services by better aligning local government incentives and residential needs.

Celebration, Florida
Celebration, Florida

Celebration, Florida

Conceived and financed by the Walt Disney Company, Celebration is a master-planned community located near Walt Disney World. Though Disney divested control of the community, it still owns and operates many local services, including power utilities. Voting is restricted to landowning entities - with Disney remaining the largest such entity.

Songdo, South Korea
Songdo, South Korea

Songdo, South Korea

Songdo is among the largest private real estate developments in history, occupying 1500 acres of reclaimed land along the Incheon waterfront. Built from the ground-up with sustainability in mind, Songdo offers over 25km of bike paths, a central pneumatic waste disposal system that eliminates garbage pickup, and over 22 million sq-ft of LEED certified space.

Dubai International Financial Centre
Photo by RLI UK

Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC)

The DIFC is self-governed financial and business district with its own legal system and business regulations aimed at attracting foriegn investment. Laws are issued in English, businesses can operate without a local partner, companies can take advantage of a 50-year guarantee of zero taxes on corporate income and profits.

Ethereum community
Photo by the Ethereum Foundation


Ethereum is the blockchain technology powering ether (ETH), the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency, as well as thousands of decentralized application (dapps). Though it may be digital in nature, the Ethereum community has had huge impacts on the world at large.

Cayman Island Enterprise City
Cayman Island Enterprise City

Cayman Island Enterprise City

Made up of three Special Economic Zones (SEZs), the Cayman Island Enterprise City aimed to attract tech and service-industries to setup a physical presence in the Cayman Islands with incentives such as a 100% exemption from income and sales tax, and renewable 5-year work/residency visas that can be obtained in as little as 5 working days. As of 2020, the economic impact is estimated at over $500 million, and more than 250 companies are currently headquartered there.

Small, independent
Experimental in nature
Responsive to stakeholders
Generate useful data no matter what
Create enormous prosperity when they succeed

A new way forward: the Startup Societies Network

Today, things are possible that were fever dreams only two years prior. Our interest in startup societies began with the fervent belief that decentralization is needed in an increasingly centralized world. We discovered an entirely new way of examining history, and now, an emerging industry dedicated to building new, decentralized communities.

With this shift comes reinvigoration, a refocusing that’s been long overdue. We are the Startup Societies Network — the only think tank dedicated to studying and promoting decentralized governance. While there are numerous organizations studying blockchain technology, special jurisdictions, new communities and the like, there is no organization that works within these currents as though they are part of a larger river.

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