Friday, March 15, 2013

Don't have a visa to work in Silicon Valley? We have some office space to rent you in the ocean.

While the immigration debate is focused primarily on low-skilled workers, the tech world is focused on the scientists, engineers, and professionals from other countries who want to start businesses here.
There's no visa for that. To that end, two Silicon Valley entrepreneurs have an unusual idea. Why not set up shop just offshore? Actually offshore. Think, a floating office park in the Pacific Ocean.
Max Marty is the CEO and cofounder of Blueseed, one of the entrepreneurs in question. Like a lot of tech startups, it's an incubator, trading equity in a company for office space and access to investors. Only on a big decommissioned cruise ship, 12 nautical miles from the coast of California. Those are international waters just a ferry ride away from Silicon Valley.
"We are enabling people from all around the world to connect into Silicon Valley," Marty says. "People live and work out there on their startup for about six to nine months. When they are in the right position and those companies gain a little bit of traction, look at moving into Silicon Valley itself."
What does Blueseed get out of playing cruise director? Namely, a 6 percent stake in the companies aboard, and the ability to influence how many foreign entrepreneurs gain access to the American market.
"The real value for us, and really, the real value for the world is in the value that those companies are going to produce as they grow, as they produce new technologies, and they create jobs," says Marty.
Despite the almost tauntingly close proximity to U.S. waters, Blueseed has had a friendly reception from government so far. The actual launch is still a ways off, but investors have pledged over $9 million so far, with one more round of financing to go. If all that money comes through, its ship will set sail in the second fiscal quarter of 2014.