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.