Palau Correspondent

Timothy C. Draper met virtually with President Surangel S. Whipps Jr. and Caleb Udui Jr., minister of finance on Feb. 2.
Screen shot by Bernadette H. Carreon

KOROR, Palau — On Feb. 2, Palau officially launched its digital residency ID program with Timothy Cook Draper, an American venture capitalist with a reported net worth of more than $1.5 billion. 

In a virtual launch, President Surangel S. Whipps Jr. said the digital resident inauguration represents an important milestone in the history of Palau and the world.

“The digital residency programs started with just a single vision — a vision that one day citizens from around the world will be able to access economic opportunities — equally a vision that one day we could democratize access to fundamental business assets for people around the world — a vision that one day we could empower global citizens from anywhere across the globe to connect and  access the digital world regardless of geographic boundaries,” Whipps said.

The president said the Feb. 2 launch made the vision a reality. “And for the first time in history, anyone in the world can participate in fundamental business and economic activities through Palau’s digital residency program,” he said.

Draper — who is physically resident in San Mateo, Calif. — is the founder of the Draper Fisher Jurvetson venture capital firm, Draper University, Draper Venture Network, Draper Associates, and the Draper Goren Holm blockchain venture and fund. He has invested in more than 99 startups, according to his resume and is the author of How to be the startup hero.

His most prominent investments include Baidu, Hotmail, Skype, Tesla, SpaceX, AngelList, the SolarCity energy company, the Ring LLC home security and smart home company, Twitter, DocuSign, Coinbase, the Robinhood stock trading and investing app,, Twitch, the Cruise LLC self-driving vehicle company and Focus Media Information Technology.

Draper is also well known for his 2014 purchase at a U.S. Marshals Service auction of almost 30,000 seized bitcoins from the Silk Road online drug bazaar website, valued at about $17 million on auction day.

Draper holds a 1980 bachelor’s in electrical engineering from Stanford University and a 1984 master’s in business administration from Harvard University. He is a proponent of Bitcoin and decentralization.

In the virtual inauguration, Draper thanked the president for “the honor of being the first of what we hope will be seven or eight billion virtual residents of Palau.

“We are really embarking on something extraordinary here. It is an opportunity to completely transform the world and allow borders to be less and less relevant. And for people everywhere to be able to participate in this world in this free world in this free world economies,” Draper said.

Palau has partnered with Cryptic Labs, an Alto-based blockchain developer, according to Journal files. The country’s Root Name System digital residency is open to anyone, anywhere.

Approved users will receive “digital resident ID cards in the form of non-fungible tokens allowing them to receive the benefits in Palau’s new digital-first economy, which will offer services like physical addresses and shipping.”

The digital residency costs $248 per person and the ID features verification features like know-your-customer, anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism financing verification processes.

Each ID bearer will have to renew their digital residency every year.

As of Feb. 2, there were at more than 300,000 applicants on the waitlist for the residency. mbj