NO RULES MOM
Paging Peter Thiel! Blueseed, a sea-faring tech incubator that aims to skirt visa laws by hosting its programs in international waters, has raised $300,000 from Silicon Valley investor Mike Maples. The startup incubator and business center intends to provide a place for non-US citizens to have the same access to the ideas and capital in the Valley without having to go through the complicated visa process. Though it’s just a fraction of the $10-30 million needed for the project to actually take off, no doubt Silicon Valley’s principled libertarian population will be excited to hear the news.
The libertarian contingent in Silicon Valley has long been fascinated by the possibilities of living independently in international waters, where taxes can be avoided and talented developers can be imported from around the world to work in a kind of floating sweatshop without the hindrance of securing an HB-1 visa. So it’s no surprise that two entrepreneurs have gotten interest from more than 240 startups for a visa-free tech incubator on a boat 12 miles off the coast of Northern California, which hopes to foster startups until they’re large enough that U.S. Citizen and Immigration services “takes them seriously,” as cofounder Max Marty told InformationWeek. Followers on AngelList are already calling it the “Visa Boat” and “jurisdictional arbitrage.”
The project is called Blueseed, and rents will range from $1,200 for a shared cabin to $3,000 for the best single-person room. Blueseed, still in the “concept vessels” stage, raised $50,000 in the fall. The founders hope to launch in the third quarter of 2013, if all goes well, and will provide Internet access, 24-hour dining and other modern conveniences as well as the expected startup perks such as a game room and gym. ”Silicon Valley’s visa-free offshore startup community,” says the website.
Of course, they’ll need a whole lot more than that measly $50K. Paging Peter Thiel.
Let Them Work
Mayor Bloomberg doesn’t do a tech ribbon cutting with reminding us that immigration is critical to our tech sectors future. And prominent venture capitalist Fred Wilson has written time and again about the importance of foreign workers in tech and the Startup Visa Act.
But over on the West Coast, they are doing some balls-out crazy stuff to make this happen. Blueseed, for example, a company backed by billionaire Peter Thiel, is constructing a floating city that will drop anchor 12 miles off the California coast. Transient techies will work on the boat by day, then head back to San Francisco to live by night, meaning they can avoid laws preventing immigrants from working at U.S. companies.