Blueseed Secures Initial Funding for Visa-Free Tech Center of the Sea

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One of several Blueseed concept vessels. Image Credit: Blueseed

Want to bring international expertise to Silicon Valley without the hassle of getting a visa? You may soon get that chance. Tech startup Blueseed wants to open a floating office park for non-US tech entrepreneurs off the California coast. And while the idea has its doubters—it also recently secured a $300,000 infusion of capital from respected Silicon Valley investor, Mike Maples.

Now, to be fair, $300,000 in Silicon Valley is lemonade stand money. The initial venture round for Blueseed is $700,000—and that’s just for the preliminaries. Researching immigration and visa laws and choosing the best ship design, for example. To execute their plan in full, Blueseed is aiming to raise between $10 and $30 million.

At the very least, the initial investment proves that since its launch, Blueseed’s audacity has accumulated some powerful fans. And well it should. It’s a powerful idea. For those who missed the first round of hype—it’s worth revisiting. Blueseed’s mission is to tear down the archaic barriers keeping good ideas and funding apart.

Entrepreneurs are a dish best served with money and mentorship. There are few (if any) places as deeply stocked with both as Silicon Valley. Which is why lots of bright, ambitious folks from all over the world want to go there. That’s worth repeating: Foreign inventors and entrepreneurs want to add their brains to the US economy.

Thing is—the US won’t let them.

Visa restrictions make it pretty hard for foreign entrepreneurs to work in the US. Unless you're employed by someone else, the US requires a $1 million investment in a minimum ten employee company to qualify for a visa. So, what’s an idea man or woman to do? How does one live in the US without being subject to its laws?

That’s precisely the paradox Blueseed is dead set on solving. But instead of working within the system, Blueseed wants to work just outside it.

The firm takes its inspiration from the seasteading movement, a group of thinkers who noticed some international borders—the watery kinds—don’t have a country on the other side. They’ll build a floating tech fortress and drop anchor 12 miles off the coast of San Francisco. The ship will house 1,000 people, shops, restaurants, living quarters, and of course, office space.

Here's a video short of Blueseed's Max Marty and Dario Mutabdzija pitching their idea:

It may be winning over the likes of Mike Maples. But the idea has its skeptics too. While it may take only 30 minutes to traverse the 12 miles to shore, some people think including customs and immigration, the commute itself could be hours both ways. Others note the ocean off the coast of San Francisco can be as treacherous as the North Sea. (And apparently enough folks are worried about pirates that Blueseed addressed the issue in their FAQ.)

But critics will be critics, and unconventional solutions are unworkable until they work. Which is precisely why Blueseed is raising capital to solve as many problems up front as they can. And we hope they succeed.

There’s no telling where the next great breakthrough will come from—bright intellects and creative types span the globe. Only 5% of the world’s population lives in the United States. The US has had its fair share of inventors born and bred at home, but just as many came from somewhere else. Seasteading tech communities could potentially speed innovation by more readily bringing ideas, funding, and experience together.

Jason Dorrier

Jason is managing editor of Singularity Hub. He cut his teeth doing research and writing about finance and economics before moving on to science, technology, and the future. He is curious about pretty much everything, and sad he'll only ever know a tiny fraction of it all.

Discussion — 7 Responses

  • SA23 January 15, 2013 on 12:54 am

    Information technology creates white collar jobs and products that are enjoyed predominantly by the affluent. What about the other 6.5 billion people?

    Poor people are not better off with iPhones, Twitter accounts and faster search results. They need food, clothing, shelter, and healthcare (and the state is not going to give it to them).

    These are the PHYSICAL, MATERIAL problems that won’t be solved by a few lines in C++ or python. It’s harder than that.

    The primary socially constructed institution that oppresses the global poor is STATE CAPITALISM — a system where corporate welfare outweighs real welfare, where police kill people for being poor and dark skinned, and where your food is poisoned by Monsanto and the FDA, run by former Monsanto lawyer Michael Taylor, doesn’t give a damn. Revolving door.

    We don’t need fun cruise ships for the affluent intelligentsia — we need radically new solutions.


    Anarchism is left-libertarianism.

    Transhumanist Socialism

    Socialism, as defined by Benjamin Tucker:

    Socialism is the belief that the next important step in progress is a change in man’s environment of an economic character that shall include the abolition of every privilege whereby the holder of wealth acquires an anti-social power to compel tribute.”

    Read more:

    Markets Not Capitalism PDF Book

    Center for a Stateless Society

    • Elias A. Constantine SA23 January 21, 2013 on 8:16 pm

      “We don’t need fun cruise ships for the affluent intelligentsia — we need radically new solutions.” um where do you think those come from? Say Silicon valley et al over the last 20 years?!! And without capital, investment, how can you fund anything? Economic illiteracy cannot be made up for by emotive theology. The Technium is actually self assembling the future economic system you dream of and yet by your vary activism you will derail it lie eall of your left wing predessessors.Along with a techno-Singularity is coming an economic singularity and technology is driving it.How can you be on this web site and study your sources and not see it?

    • tevo55 SA23 January 22, 2013 on 8:20 pm

      Oh, you had me until you wrote: “Anarchism is left-libertarianism. Transhumanist Socialism”

      Socialism, in any form, destroys the individual. It does not intend to set us free. I remember dealing with the CPUSA back in the 1970’s on the issue of gay liberation. Their position was that homosexuality is a construct based on bourgeois notions of individualism. It only reflects the narcissism of decadent capitalism & does not serve the people (i.e. the state) in producing new generations workers & is therefor revisionist & counter revolutionary.

  • Robert Schreib January 17, 2013 on 2:00 pm

    Isn’t this the same concept of the SyFy Channel show “Eureka”? Seriously though, like the science fiction town populated almost entirely by geniuses, this thing could create amazing innovations!

    • Peter Stella Robert Schreib March 29, 2013 on 4:40 am

      There are plenty of Geniuses here already do you really think a guy from India who is super smart needs to sit on a boat 15 miles off shore to get paid? this is plain and simple a slave ship that only a fool will sign on for and only foolish companies will continue to think they can pay 10 cents on the dollar for engineering,

  • Joe Cushing January 24, 2013 on 6:28 am

    I love it! I’m so glad that seasteading is about to get its start. They should put a medical clinic on the boat so that they can import medical professionals and get around the myriad of medical regulation/red tape in this country.

  • Peter Stella March 29, 2013 on 4:36 am

    The truth is this is just a way for companies to foolishly circumvent paying a US worker a reasonable salary. The tech is already here. I worked for a US Firm that produces the very best product in their area of industry, based in Massachusetts the engineers are predominantly US born and raised and almost 100% of the work force are US citizens. They pay well, make the best and charge 3 times what the their competition does for a product that costs the same to manufacture.

    The “competition” believes that the company i used to work for has pricing that is not competitive- but the truth is the company i used to work for has no real competitors. After leaving this company i worked for a “competitor” for 2 years. A part of Good Enough GE Digital Energy, they rely one foreign born engineers and programmers that reside in India and work remotely. The engineers have NO CLUE how to make the product- if you ask them why a fuse is a certain size they respond that is the GE design- Jack Welch has left the building ladies and gentlemen. When I worked at the aforementioned Cadillac of the industry company if I responded with “I dont know it is the Russelectric Design” as a project engineer they VP of Engineering Dick Doyle would fire my ass!

    We have tons of US talent we don’t need to import any, we need to protect our industry and talent with tariffs on foreign made junk.