Start-Ups

Silicon valley takes to the high seas--sort of

To get past government regulations that prevent budding entrepreneurs from getting H-1B visas, one company builds a boat and puts it 12 miles off the coast of California.

What do you do if you're Silicon Valley and you want to attract budding entrepreneurs from other countries, but you have the government restriction that the government doesn't issues work visas for entrepreneurs? Why, you build a boat, that's what you do! (H-1B visas must be sponsored by an established U.S. employer; there is no equivalent for a non-U.S. citizen who wants to found the next Google or Intel on American shores.)  Dan Dascalescu, CIO of Blueseed, points out that their focus isn't replacing H-1B visas (since those are for employees); rather, they're providing a way for entrepreneurs to come to Silicon Valley, because "There are simply no US visas available for entrepreneurs."

The boat, named Blueseed, is located 12 miles off the coast of California. It has room for 1,000 or so entrepreneurs, and will feature onboard medical services, a concierge, 24-7 security, full-service gym, dining, shopping, and just about any other amenity you can think of (which, in my case, would have to include a Dramamine dispenser).  Rent is about $1,600 monthly rent per person (and the company that owns the boat will get an equity stake in each of the startups on board).

Max Marty, Blueseed's CEO, told InformationWeek that the goal of this venture is to foster startups until they're large enough that U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services "takes them seriously.  Then the organization is better equipped to go through the process of becoming a land-based employer.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

27 comments
AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Nearly jumped off my chair in fear and loathing :^0

john.dovale
john.dovale

Interesting idea but I can see this becoming a potential National Security hotbed of debate. A magnet for attracting less than ethical business operators, or even terrorist cells. 12 miles - so that puts them just at the fringe (i.e. in international waters)? Hmmmm Is blueseed a US registered vessel, who's national flag is it flying (it floats so it has to be registered somewhere and fly that flag and hence be subject to that nations maritime (and possibly other) laws/rules)..... its not as cut-n-dry as the promoters of the idea are making it out to be.

greg.johnson
greg.johnson

After reading the article and all of the posts, I just marvel at the workings of the human mind!

mveh
mveh

It would be interesting to see how the US compares to other countries in regard to allowing non-US citizens to start businesses. Aside from being a fascinating concept, if a project like this could keep the next Google or Facebook from setting up shop in Singapore, South Korea or India then it would certainly be worthwhile.

Tolga BALCI
Tolga BALCI

As a former master mariner, I advise all the C*O's of the company to take a trip on a vessel during the winter time and experience first hand how they will make their employees work on something that's rolling, pitching and yawing.

scootertrashtx
scootertrashtx

People are going to PAY $1600 a month to stay there... How does this qualify as a minimum wage software dev "sweatshop"? That's funny!

neil.postlethwaite
neil.postlethwaite

Do they do anything else unlawful in the US like human trafficking, supply of cocaine, and presuming it evades paying federal employment and sales taxes too. If someone fails the corporate performance test, are they just tossed off the SweatShop barge. Shameful.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

I saw it in a Episode of [b]The Goodies[/b] at least 30 years ago. Sure Graham went mad and tried to come up with a Pirate UK by employing a team of Welsh Miners to dig out the Foundations of the UK and then tow it 3 Miles off the coast but the idea is the same. ;) Col

tsnow
tsnow

What would be more interesting would be info on the uptake and success rates. They were struggling to get a critical mass when I last heard about them (a year ago) and I haven't heard about any successes yet.

jwylie
jwylie

How about you focus on repatriating the billions of dollars that congress won't let on shore and allow companies like Cisco, HP, Intel to name another reinvest in US jobs. Technology and Pharmaceutical companies have over 1 Trillion in offshore investments which they want to bring on shore but with a 35& tax hike, why, I wouldn't. Forget Visas..focus on US, keep gov. out of our way and let us show the world how the US does it.

nomad_tech
nomad_tech

How about the foriegn entrepreneurs that want to start a business in the US instead of their home countries, first work to become US citizens?

dandvd
dandvd

...because the best place to hide is smack near the coast of San Francisco, on a ship from which there's only way out, by ferry, after which you need to go through customs. Brilliant. Oh and add all the press attention that the ship will get. Guaranteed to get your "less than ethical business operation" the press coverage it deserves... when the authorities shoot you in the barrel.

dandvd
dandvd

...except there's no vessel of that size in the area yet, and a trip on a 44 footer doesn't mean anything vs. a 700-ft moored cruise ship.

GSG
GSG

Goodie goodie yum yum! We used to watch the goodies late at night on PBS when I was a kid. I still remember the "black pudding" episode, and them playing cards with toast and we'd laugh ourselves silly. I wish they'd re-run those old shows.

dandvd
dandvd

So far, a little over 900 entrepreneurs have expressed interest in locating on Blueseed. The ship's capacity is 1000. For details, see bit dot ly / BlueseedStartupSurvey1

michaellashinsky
michaellashinsky

How is it that Businesses get to have all the advantages of a US based business but are allowed to keep their profits offshore through outsourcing and creative bookkeeping? I am tired of paying for the infrastructure they use while they get out of paying taxes. I personally do not believe any of the companies you mentioned would bring back the jobs or the assets, even if we promised them a 1% tax rate. They would just find a way to work the system more and still not invest in the home country.

John_LI_IT_Guy
John_LI_IT_Guy

What a crock of nonsense. We should send the US Navy out there to convince them it's in their best interest to GO HOME!!!

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

Not sure that it's spelled correctly but that's how it sounds. :D How is that Martial Art you are just hitting people over the head with a Black Pudding? OK so it works. :0 They certainly have never been bettered and their comedy is still as good today as when it was made. ;) Col

tsnow
tsnow

I'll have a look.

dandvd
dandvd

Everyone is entitled to an opinion; it's more difficult to actually back one. You claim the companies that would start on Blueseed won't invest in "the home country". Which is the home country? The US, or the country they came from? Nevertheless, how do you think they're going to, I don't know, eat? Ship food all the way from Mexico? How about tourism? Will they take some boat to Mexico or Canada? Or will they go to San Francisco and spend money of Californian goods or services? How about paying for Internet? Or legal help? Etc.

GAProgrammer
GAProgrammer

that I guess the rest of the world really doesn't hate the US after all as the media would have you believe.

Lensman99
Lensman99

Ouch! 5-6 years wait for a Green card - up to 20 for citizenship! So much for "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" Didn't take long for us to forget our roots in every other country in the world. *sigh*

apotheon
apotheon

That has to be sarcasm. If so, I applaud you. If not, you need to get your head examined.

GSG
GSG

I admit that after your post, I went to youtube and found a bunch of episodes. I had a very enjoyable evening watching the show. I thought I'd be disappointed after so many years, but you are right, it's still as good today as it was when I was a kid.

tomam
tomam

If the comment is indented he is talking to the previous commenter not the author. You see jwylie said ???How about you focus on repatriating the billions of dollars that congress won't let on shore and allow companies like Cisco, HP, Intel to name another reinvest in US jobs.??? And Michaellashinsky replied, ???I personally do not believe any of the companies you mentioned would bring back the jobs or the assets, even if we promised them a 1% tax rate.??? See no reason to be angry and slam someone for giving a bad opinion of the story.

Editor's Picks