Home Startups ValueBase Backed by Sam Altman’s Hydrazine Raises $1.6 Million Seed Round businessroundups.org

ValueBase Backed by Sam Altman’s Hydrazine Raises $1.6 Million Seed Round businessroundups.org

by Ana Lopez
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Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, believes AI can help “incredible abundance,but he says he wants to make sure that abundance is shared. Against that goal, Altman embraced a theory of the 19th century political economist Henry George, who worried during his lifetime about wealth accumulating in the hands of a few after the industrial revolution. George argued that greater equality could be enjoyed if the economic value of land belonged equally to all members of society.

Altman also believes that in a world where jobs potentially create less economic value, a land tax could offset income taxes and guarantee that the wealth of all individuals increases as land — a fixed asset — increases in value. He’s also putting his money where his mouth is by leading a seed round in a six-month-old startup that represents a step in the same direction.

On his face, the outfit cried ValueBase, sounds pretty banal. It plans to use land-first models to create massive valuation models and real estate valuations. ValueBase says it can automate much of the assessment of both land and buildings by automating data from weather balloons and aerial image providers into its algorithm, among other things. the features of buildings and less on the land where those buildings stand.

The idea is to flip the model a bit, says Lars Doucet, co-founder of ValueBase. “When you understand that land is one of the most important determinants of value, you don’t necessarily have to crawl through people’s windows and snoop around their homes to get all those intrusive shots. Being able to value the land first can help you get more accurate as you have more access to the features of the land including the distance to schools, distance to jobs, how much street noise there is, how much pollution there is, whether there is a nice view – all these things are very readable without ever entering the premises and therefore easier to calculate.

It’s a smart approach for several reasons. For one thing, working with municipal property tax appraisers could help these appraisers clarify to a home or building owner why a property has been given a certain value. ValueBase could also become more valuable to cities as many tax consultants retire. (Most are middle-aged white men in the US)

ValueBase’s strategy is also self-serving. It gains access to critical data that it can use to create more commercial applications, including for brokers and mortgage lenders.

In any case, ValueBase has a higher calling, Doucet emphasises. It aims to pave the way for public works in a particular place by learning as much as possible about each lot in the US and abroad. “If someone asks, ‘Hey, what’s all the land in Idaho worth?’ and ‘Can you tell me up to the package?’ we will be the first people they want to call about it,” he says.

Currently, it’s hard to imagine anyone asking that question, let alone ValueBase, which still only employs four people spread across North Carolina, Virginia and Texas.

But if Altman is right about the exponential change we are collectively facing, that could change, and he’s clearly willing to bet on that.

Hydrazine Capital, a fund run by Altman and business partner Ryan Cohen, led the $1.6 million round in ValueBase. They were joined by former Github CEO Nat Friedman, serial entrepreneurs Sahil Lavingia and Erik Torenberg, and others.

Pictured above: Front and center is Will Jarvis, CEO of ValueBase; Doucet is in the far right corner.

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