Reflections on Vitalia, Prospera, and popup cities

Context: I spent the last 3 days at Vitalia (https://www.vitalia.city/) a pop-up city in the style of Zuzalu (https://www.zuzalu.city/), hosted at Prospera (https://prospera.co/) a special economic zone in Honduras. I was there to speak at the Startup Societies Conference, to check out both Vitalia and Prospera, and to connect with adjacent people and projects in the space.


Zuzalu kicked off a bunch of adjacent projects, called popup cities, doing multi-month coliving + conferences for nomads, generally interested in some combination of crypto, new societies, longevity, etc. The Zuzalu QF funding round has attracted dozens of projects looking to replicate these early successes for different adjacent niches. The first major one of these has been Vitalia, “The City of Life”.

For flexible nomads looking for a vibrant place to live for a few months with built in community and cool conference events every week or two, popup cities are a natural fit. Especially these early ones have been able to attract incredibly dense social networks—Vitalia this week featured visits from Balaji, Naval, Bryan Johnson, Patri Friedman, Dave McClure, and dozens of other founders and investors working on groundbreaking projects.

I can imagine a future where there are people essentially living on the pop up city circuit. That said, these events are a big lift to put on, tend to feel ephemeral, and have a challenging cost structure to make profitable (long conferences at resorts are not a great business, but there may be interesting adjacent business models…see below).

I think Vitalia being at Prospera was a big advantage vs. Zuzalu being at a random resort in Montenegro in terms of having better community infrastructure, clearer alignment between the property and the pop-up city, more ability to leave a lasting impact on the space, and the ability to consider the popup city as just the beginning of a more permanent development.

One of the big themes of discussion at the conference was this complimentary nature between L1s (places with a degree of territorial sovereignty or legal/governmental control) and L2s (communities building new ways of living on top of L1s). Most people seem to have learned about this idea from a recent Balaji tweet (though ahem I’ve been talking about the same concept for 8 months). The origin doesn’t really matter—helpful frameworks get discovered and propagated from multiple places. That’s often how you can tell they are good ideas.

What is increasingly evident and relevant here is that L1s and L2s are extremely complimentary. Both problems (building legal structures and physical land vs. building communities that can colocate) are very hard and it makes sense to specialize. Prospera has spent 14 years creating hundreds of acres in Honduras that can now serve as a physical location to bring together L2 communities. Cabin has spent 3 years building our community, and we’re just getting started.

Now that Prospera has the foundation built, their biggest need is to attract people and companies to live there—a problem that communities like Cabin or Vitalia could help solve. There may even be a complimentary business model where L1s provide land grants & other upside to L2 communities that can effectively relocate people and companies to the L1.

I spent some time with the Prospera team discussing what this could look like for Cabin, and they have expressed a strong interest in working with and incentivizing our community to build a neighborhood there. The fit is also strong for communities like Vitalia, which is focused on gene therapies, biohacking, and other medical interventions at the cutting edge of life extension that can directly and clearly benefit from being in a jurisdiction not reliant on the FDA’s insanely long timelines for drug development. I find it to be a compelling vision to imagine a future where many network city neighborhoods colocate in places like Prospera.

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Super interesting. Thanks for going and sharing out.

More broadly it makes me wonder what it looks like for an outside party like Vitalia, Prospera, or even Culdesac or a cohousing-esque apartment building developer to pay Cabin to build a neighborhood in their development?

Obviously, this can’t be done just anywhere easily. But could be an interesting future to explore as we start building neighborhoods where individual cabin members live, start harvesting up best practices, etc.

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Yes, I think this type of arrangement has a lot of potential—L1s incentivizing L2s to develop community neighborhoods in their jurisdictions. Lots of details to figure out for specific cases, but this could be an interesting model for us to pursue for family centric neighborhood development.

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