Silicon Valley’s Floating Counterpart

Wednesday, April 3, 2013, by Tasneem Dharamsi

Not only is the United States is a desirable place to be for individuals, but it is also a desirable place for companies to take root.  In the tech world, Silicon Valley is the place to be for entrepreneurs attempting to make their fortunes.  Interestingly, some of the world’s most influential companies like Google, Intel, and Yahoo! were founded by immigrants in Silicon Valley.  Indeed, as Vivek Wadhwa, author of “The Immigrant Exodus: Why America Is Losing the Global Race to Capture Entrepreneurial Talent” stated in a recent article in the LA Times, immigrants have historically been considered the “lifeblood of Silicon Valley.”  Unfortunately for these entrepreneurs and for a country whose economy depends on growth of the high-tech industry, it may be difficult for these innovative immigrants to get visas.

Marty and Mutbdzija believe that by founding Blueseed, they will be able to reduce the hindrance caused by the difficult-to-procure work visa while also providing foreign and domestic entrepreneurs with a unique environment where they can exchange ideas and information with other entrepreneurs with whom they live and work.

To solve the problem, Max Marty and Dario Mutabdzija created Blueseed.  Blueseed is a large ship that will provide office and living space to foreign and American entrepreneurs seeking to pioneer successful high-tech startup companies.  Marty and Mutbdzija believe that by founding Blueseed, they will be able to reduce the hindrance caused by the difficult-to-procure work visa while also providing foreign and domestic entrepreneurs with a unique environment where they can exchange ideas and information with other entrepreneurs with whom they live and work.

According to the Blueseed website, the ship will be parked 12 nautical miles off the coast of Northern California.  The basic living space and office space package is estimated to start at a reasonable $1,200/person/month.  This price, as Blueseed points out, is much cheaper than living in San Francisco, where a studio apartment and an office space for one might cost around $3000.   Blueseed also guarantees, among other accommodations, internet access, a full service 24-hour gym, and transport to mainland at least once a day.

Marty and Mutabdzija met while at The Seasteading Institute.  Seasteading, the idea of creating sovereign nations in the form of floating platforms on which people can live and work, is promoted by those at the Institute.  The Institute states that it’s goal is to “enable seasteading communities—floating cities—which will allow the next generation of pioneers to peacefully test new ideas for government.”

While The Seasteading Institute and Blueseed might be on to something, parking a large vessel off the coast of a country might raise some legal issues.  Although Blueseed states that the United States Convention on the Law of the Sea Part II allows vessels to be located or move through a state’s Contiguous Zone, 12 to 24 miles off the coast, with a few conditions, nuanced legal issues will undoubtedly be raised after Blueseed is launched.  But Blueseed and other seasteaders might have the foundation of Supreme Court jurisprudence protecting them. The Court found in Lozman v. The City of Riviera Beach that the definition of a vessel does not include residential structures and are not subject to all admiralty laws.  This may be a win for seasteaders and for Blueseed, as their floating platforms or ships may not be considered vessels either.