Water, Water Everywhere: Blueseed Ventures into the Sea
Max is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.
Kindly no comments about Galt’s Gulch on the sea. Please no snarkiness about tax havens and floating resorts for the ‘one percent.’ Yes, Blueseed will feature a barge 12 miles off the coast of California's Halfmoon Bay. But it's no Sealand.
Blueseed is a business designed to solve a problem: getting international tech talent close enough to Silicon Valley to participate in the ecosystem (without running afoul of US visa restrictions). That’s it. It’s no libertopia. No fantasy barge. It’s a 'Googleplex of the Sea.'
“We're an offshore community housing tech startups, their support networks and even whole tech incubators,” says CEO Max Marty. “Our jurisdiction enables a legal means for them to create win-win situations for investors in Silicon Valley and entrepreneurs from around the world.”
Max Marty and Dario Mutabdzija are former researchers with the Seasteading Institute. One might be tempted to think of them as ideologues. Turns out they’re all business. I know. I worked with them on a couple of important seasteading papers. Their mantra? Pragmatism, pragmatism, pragmatism.
When our research projects expired, Marty and Mutabdzija headed (metaphorically at least) for the high seas. They wanted to put some resources where their research had been. If some of the big Silicon Valley companies start taking them seriously, they have a shot at becoming the first floating tech startup.
Think about it: there’s a giant bottleneck of tech talent due to visa restrictions -- even as some of the successful ones are clambering to get out.
Blueseed now has interest from “250 companies from 52 different countries,” says Marty, chatting with me from Silicon Valley. “They will need to compensate us with rent and a portion (6.5%) of equity in their companies. Most will also need to come aboard with seed funding. We are, however, looking to create a small fund that can assist some of them.”
Hugely talented people -- designers, coders and people with big ideas -- would all happily come to Silicon Valley if they could do business there more easily. Sure, there’s a lot you can do remotely. But some kinds of business are best carried out with facetime and in proximity to the system core.
What kinds of companies would do well to take a look at Blueseed? I’d say mostly companies that benefit from having satellite companies with overlapping interests: Facebook (NASDAQ: FB), Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), Google (NASDAQ - GOOG) and some of the big consulting firms come to mind. Game companies like Zinga (NASDAQ: ZNGA), Kabam and Electronic Arts (NASDAQ: EA) could gain a competitive advantage by landing international talent as well. Even if these companies don’t invest directly, they could do worse than to put a bug in investors' ears. (Some of these investors may be on this list.)
Despite some big IPO announcements, Silicon Valley could use a way to help stop some bleeding. Hotspots like Austin are beginning to steal some of the business and talent California used to bag so easily, as CA’s business climate ain’t what it used to be. And yet Silicon Valley still has tremendous gravity. They could recapture some of the glory with this kind of workaround.
“What is the greatest obstacle to Blueseed's success right now?” I ask Marty.
"There are numerous complexities and risks associated with any startup, especially when (like us) they do big novel things that challenge the status quo. So our current focus is on finding the right sort of investor who is willing to do something unconventional in exchange for big returns.”
Facebook’s early angel investor Peter Thiel agrees. He is Blueseed's trailblazing first investor. Where have we seen that movie before?
Max Borders is author of the forthcoming book Superwealth: Why we should stop worrying about the gap between rich and poor.
Fool blogger Max Borders does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this entry. The Motley Fool has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.If you have questions about this post or the Fool’s blog network, click here for information.