Blueseed

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This article is about the startup community. For the manga series, see Blue Seed.
Blueseed Inc.
Type Private
Genre Startup incubator
Founded July 31, 2011 (2011-07-31) (incorporated March 29, 2012 as Blueseed, Inc.)
Founder(s)
Headquarters Palo Alto, California
Key people
  • Dan Dascalescu (COO)
  • Dario Mutabdzija (President)[3]
  • Max Marty (Chairman of the Board of Directors)[4]
Employees 3
Website blueseed.co

Blueseed is a Silicon Valley-based startup company[5] and a seasteading venture to create a startup community located on a vessel stationed in international waters near the coast of Silicon Valley in the United States. The promoters believe that the location would enable non-U.S. startup entrepreneurs to work on their ventures without the need for a US work visa (H1B), while living in proximity to Silicon Valley and using relatively easier to obtain business and tourism visas (B1/B2)[6] to travel to the mainland. After the conclusion of their incubation on the vessel, successful startups may relocate to Silicon Valley and employ local workforce. The project received wide media coverage and the promise of funding from venture capitalist Peter Thiel,[7] who also supports The Seasteading Institute, who ultimately did not invest in the seed round. Blueseed later obtained US$300,000 in seed funding,[8] Bitcoin investments, and $9M from an undisclosed investor[9] and is currently planning to lease a ship for its platform.[10] Launch is planned for summer 2014,[11] provided that $18M more is raised.

History[edit]

Blueseed was co-founded in July 2011[1] by Max Marty and Dario Mutabdzija, who had worked together at The Seasteading Institute as Directors of Business Strategy and Legal Strategy, respectively. Blueseed's CIO/CTO (now the COO), Dan Dascalescu, who joined the company shortly after its incorporation, is also an ambassador for the Seasteading Institute.[3]

The stated motivations of the project include providing an entrepreneurial alternative to the Startup Visa Act, which has not seen any progress in Congress,[12] and creating "a vibrant workplace for innovative industries to bloom, unencumbered by onerous regulations on new technology-sector businesses".[13] On November 30, 2011, venture capitalist Peter Thiel offered to lead Blueseed's seed financing round.[7] The number of startups that expressed interest in locating on Blueseed grew from 31 on November 14, 2011,[14] to 60 a month later,[15] to over 100 by February 2012,[16] 133 on May 7,[17] 194 as of May 9,[18] more than 250 as of June 6,[19] and 336 on December 13, 2012.[8]

In October 2012, Blueseed made public a page listing its partnerships with a number of other companies and organizations, including startup accelerators, incubators, and venture capitalists in the US and abroad, as well as companies that would help provide services and resources that could help Blueseed operate its seasteading platform.[20] Notable partners include Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman (legal representation), Fenwick & West (legal representation), Startup Weekend, Nanyang Technological University, Golden Gate Ventures, Open Network Labs, Start-Up Chile, MassChallenge (global pipeline partners), Singularity University, the Seasteading Institute (Blueseed being the first commercial seasteading venture), and Shopify (e-commerce platform).[20]

In December 2012, Blueseed announced that it had successfully closed its seed round with funding from Mike Maples of Floodgate Fund as well as Trevor Kienzle of Correlation Ventures, Xu Xiaoping and Wang Qiang of ZhenFund, and other investors. Peter Thiel decided not to invest in that round.[8][21]

In March 2013, Blueseed announced the project's launch cost to be $27M, of which $9M were reserved for an existing investor.[9]

In July 2013, Blueseed closed a funding round from Bitcoin investors.[22][23]

On July 31, 2013, two years after its founding, Blueseed co-founder Max Marty announced that he was stepping down from his day-to-day activities at the company and taking the role of Chairman of the Board of Directors. Dan Dascalescu, the erstwhile CIO/CTO, became the COO of Blueseed, while Dario Mutabdzija took the role of CEO.[2]

Blueseed originally estimated a launch timeframe of Q3 2013[24] but has since revised its launch estimate to Q3-Q4 2014.[25][26]

A map of Blueseed's planned sea platform (and two buoys for positioning) in relation to the California coast. Also shown on the map are Half Moon Bay (the closest port) and the Silicon Valley area ranging from San Francisco in the north to San Jose in the south. The thick white line is the boundary of the official territorial waters of the United States. The cusp is due to the presence of the Farallon Islands, over which the US exercises territorial control, located in the north-west part of the map.

Origins of the idea[edit]

Blueseed co-founder Max Marty claims that the idea of Blueseed came to him while on a Reason Cruise in February 2011.[27] Marty also cited his experience seeing fellow students at US universities leave the US because of the difficulty of getting visas for startups as an inspiration for the idea.[28][29]

A similar idea was proposed by Theresa Klein as an entry for The Seasteading Institute's "Sink or Swim Business Contest" for 2010 and won the second prize.[30] The entry was titled "Boundless Talent Consulting Services" and the business plan was released under a Creative Commons Attribution license.[31] Marty was one of the judges for that contest.[32] The contest winners were announced in January 2011.[33] Klein's proposal differed from Blueseed's plan in that Klein focused on workers in general who had difficulty getting H-1Bs whereas Blueseed has been focused on startups and entrepreneurs.

A Los Angeles Times article about Blueseed noted that another company called SeaCode, led by Roger Green and David Cook, had attempted something similar in the past but had to put the project aside because they were unable to raise enough money to launch.[34][35] SeaCode had been covered in the press as far back as 2005.[36]

Logistics[edit]

The project plans to either convert a cruise ship or remodel a barge[5] in order to provide a living accommodations, coworking space, and entertainment facilities for approximately 1,000 customers[37] paying an average of USD 1500 in monthly rent[14] (ranging between $1200 and $3000, and combined with a small equity stake[38]). The vessel would be stationed 12 nautical miles from the coast of California, near the port of Half Moon Bay,[15] and would have a crew of 200-300.[38] The location is situated outside the territorial waters of the United States of America, thus not being subject to its immigration laws. Internet connectivity would be provided via a point-to-point microwave link, submarine communications cable, a laser link,[39] or a mesh network of wireless routers placed on autonomous Liquid Robotics environmentally-powered ocean platforms.[40]

Legality[edit]

The Blueseed ship will be stationed in the contiguous zone outside the territorial waters of the United States, which according to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, allows it to be present as long as it does not engage in the exploitation of natural resources, and exhibits no intent of infringing on the customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary laws and regulations of the United States.[41]

In September 2013, Blueseed announced successful discussions with the United States Coast Guard regarding the legality and logistics of the project.[42]

Following the precedent set by the cruise shipping industry, the Blueseed ship will fly the flag of an open registry country such as Marshall Islands or The Bahamas,[43] which will determine the de jure laws that apply on board.

In terms of taxation, Blueseed will not impose tax;[44] however, individuals are responsible for paying their financial dues according to their country of residence. Corporate tax will be paid by startups located on board based on the country of incorporation.

Businesses that are generally illegal in the United States, such as gambling or prostitution, will be forbidden on the ship.[45]

Reception[edit]

Blueseed has received praise from entrepreneurs, mainstream media journalists, and Silicon Valley political activists for their novel and innovative workaround for the visa problems that entrepreneurs face.

News anchor Melissa Francis called Blueseed a "genius idea".[46] Craig Montuori, an evangelist for the Startup Visa, writes of Blueseed that "I can vouch for their passion on creating workarounds for jobs creating foreign entrepreneurs while waiting for Congress to create a Startup Visa as someone who has been advocating for Startup Visa for the past year."[47] Cyan Banister writes for TechCrunch: "Hats off to Max and Dario for dreaming big and trying to make a difference in the world."[27] Stewart Alsop, a startup co-founder, writes on Quora: "I really have no doubt as to whether Blueseed will be successful at promoting innovation. It will have close access to investors, an international environment without precedent that I can find, and a self selecting population that will be highly entrepreneurial."[48] Natalie MacNeil, an Emmy Award winner who has applied to be on board Blueseed's vessel, writes, "This is the perfect solution for me and my company; it’s everything I could possibly want. If I could, I would move my startup to Silicon Valley in a heartbeat but there isn’t a visa option for the stage I’m at and budget I’m working on. Up until discovering Blueseed, my lawyer advised me to get a job with a digital media firm since I qualify for an Extraordinary Ability Visa because I’m an Emmy Award winner. That Visa could lead to a Green Card in a few years and then I’d be able to continue with my business. But I truly believe the time for my business is now. I have so much momentum and I want to run with it. Thank you for dreaming up such an awesome incubator concept and I hope to meet the Blueseed team on board in 2014!"[8]

Criticism of Blueseed has come from two directions: legal and economic. Some critics of Blueseed[who?] believe that Blueseed's legal position is precarious because the US immigration and tax authorities, as well as the Navy and Coast Guard, may not agree with Blueseed's interpretation of the law and hence may not cooperate with Blueseed. The other direction of criticism is that Blueseed will not be economically viable due to the huge cost of obtaining and operating a ship and the difficulties with attracting quality startups to living on a ship.

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Friedman, Patri (31 July 2011). "The Seasteading Institute – July 2011 Newsletter". The Seasteading Institute. Archived from the original on 12 March 2012. Retrieved 12 March 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Marty, Max (2013-07-31). "Two years of Blueseed". Blueseed (blog). Retrieved 2013-07-31. 
  3. ^ a b "About Us". Retrieved 2013-07-31. 
  4. ^ "Board of Directors". Blueseed. Retrieved 2013-07-31. 
  5. ^ a b Donald, Brooke (Dec 19, 2011). "CA startup sees entrepreneur-ship as visa solution". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 12 March 2012. Retrieved 12 March 2012. 
  6. ^ "B1/B2 and H-1B visa issuance graphs". Bureau of Consular Affairs. Retrieved 12 March 2012. 
  7. ^ a b McCullagh, Declan (2011-11-30). "Peter Thiel floats cash to floating tech incubator". CNET. Retrieved 2012-02-26. 
  8. ^ a b c d Banister, Cyan (2012-12-13). "Mike Maples Gets On Board Blueseed’s Sea Platform". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2012-12-13. 
  9. ^ a b Asman, David (March 27, 2013). "A Floating Lab for High-Tech Startups". Fox Business. Archived from the original on March 29, 2013. 
  10. ^ Silverfarb, Bill (2 January 2013). "Community at sea proposed off Half Moon Bay". San Mateo Daily Journal. Archived from the original on 3 January 2013. Retrieved 3 January 2013. 
  11. ^ "Quick facts". Retrieved April 7, 2013. 
  12. ^ Anderson, Greg (3 November 2011). "Blueseed Finds International Waters The Answer To US Visa Problems". ArcticStartup. Retrieved 12 March 2012. "[...]other groups have come together to motivate congress to allow a "Startup Visa" that would enable entrepreneurs to legally live and start their own businesses in the United States. Unfortunately, since March 2011 when the Startup Visa Act was pushed into Congress, there has been no real progress on the proposed legislation." 
  13. ^ Fisher, Anthony L. (January 9, 2012). "Blueseed: The Googleplex of the Sea". Reason (magazine). Retrieved 12 March 2012. 
  14. ^ a b Ramsinghani, Mahendra (14 November 2011). "To Skirt Visa Issue, Blueseed Wants To Build Immigrant Startups On International Waters". Huffington Post. Retrieved 12 March 2012. "For now, Blueseed has attracted 31 start-ups with varying degrees of interest in this idea." 
  15. ^ a b Chatterjee, Rituparna (Dec 15, 2011). "US immigration: Silicon Valley start-up Blueseed vows freedom from visa to entrepreneurs". The Economic Times of India. Retrieved 12 March 2012. 
  16. ^ Wiggin, Teke (Feb 7, 2012). "Blueseed: 'Startup Incubator' Could Sail Past Immigration Law". AOL Real Estate. Retrieved 12 March 2012. 
  17. ^ Taylor, Chris. "Pirates Off Silicon Valley! 133 Startups to Live on This Rogue Boat [PICS]". Mashable. Retrieved 10 May 2012. 
  18. ^ "Blueseed Survey for Startups - Public Summary Report". Blueseed. Archived from the original on 10 May 2012. Retrieved 10 May 2012. 
  19. ^ "One tech flotation's going well! Hundreds of companies look to secure spots on floating city off coast of Silicon Valley - where workers will be immigrants who can't get visas". Daily Mail. 6 June 2012. 
  20. ^ a b "Partners". Blueseed. Retrieved 2012-12-14. 
  21. ^ "Blueseed Receives Seed Funding from Xu Xiaoping and Wang Qiang of ZhenFund". Inside China. 2012-12-15. Retrieved 2012-12-20. 
  22. ^ "Cruise Ship Startup Community Blueseed Gets Bitcoin Funding". On BitCoin. 2013-07-18. Retrieved 2013-07-26. 
  23. ^ Santos, Mario (2013-07-19). ""Startup ship for entrepreneurs" Blueseed gets Bitcoin funding". Bitcoin Examiner. Retrieved 2013-07-26. 
  24. ^ Apostolou, Natalie (30 November 2011). "PayPal founder helps steer super geek cruiser". The Register. Archived from the original on 12 March 2012. Retrieved 12 March 2012. 
  25. ^ Totade, Manasi (2012-10-26). "Silicon Valley expands -- off the coast of San Francisco on a ship!". The Online Economy: Strategy and Entrepreneurship. Retrieved 2012-12-19. 
  26. ^ Nielsen, Kelly (2012-05-25). "Offshore boat nurtures non-US tech startups". Springwise. Retrieved 2012-12-19. 
  27. ^ a b Banister, Cyan (2011-11-10). "The Real Pirates of Silicon Valley". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2012-05-26. 
  28. ^ "Max Marty Pitch Video". Retrieved 2 January 2014. 
  29. ^ "The Stossel Show: Blueseed co-founders Max Marty and Dario Mutabdzija". 2012-01-26. Retrieved 2013-07-26. 
  30. ^ "Sink or Swim Contest Winners". The Seasteading Institute. Retrieved 2013-07-26. 
  31. ^ "Boundless Talent Consulting Services". 
  32. ^ "Judges Selected for The Seasteading Institute's Sink or Swim Business Contest". The Seasteading Institute. 2010-09-09. Retrieved 2013-07-26. 
  33. ^ "The Seasteading Institute Winter 2011 Newsletter". 2011-01-17. Retrieved 2013-07-26. 
  34. ^ Guynn, Jessica (2013-03-20). "Foreign tech workers on a cruise ship? SeaCode was first to try". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-07-28. 
  35. ^ "SeaCode (company website)". Retrieved 2013-07-28. 
  36. ^ Thibodeau, Patrick (2005-07-11). "For SeaCode, offshoring means three miles off the coast". ComputerWorld. Retrieved 2013-07-28. 
  37. ^ Posner, Michael (Feb 24, 2012). "Floating city conceived as high-tech incubator". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 12 March 2012. 
  38. ^ a b Price, Andrew. "Blueseed: A Floating Startup Incubator Off The California Coast". Fast Company (magazine). Archived from the original on 12 March 2012. Retrieved 12 March 2012. 
  39. ^ Garling, Caleb (December 13, 2011). "Startup Ducks Immigration Law With ‘Googleplex of the Sea’". Wired (magazine). Archived from the original on December 13, 2011. Retrieved 12 March 2012. 
  40. ^ "How will you ensure reliable Internet access?". Blueseed FAQ. 
  41. ^ "TERRITORIAL SEA AND CONTIGUOUS ZONE". United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. United Nations. Retrieved 10 May 2012. 
  42. ^ "Excellent meeting with the U.S. Coast Guard earlier today.". Blueseed Facebook page. 
  43. ^ Riley, Sheila (2012-03-30). "Blueseed Is Floating Startup Incubator For Foreigners". Investor's Business Daily. Retrieved 10 May 2012. 
  44. ^ "What taxes will I have to pay?". Blueseed FAQ. Retrieved 2012-05-10. 
  45. ^ Lee, Timothy (2011-11-28). "Startup hopes to hack the immigration system with a floating incubator". 
  46. ^ Francis, Melissa (Sep 6, 2012). "A Startup on the High Seas". Fox Business. Archived from the original on Sep 8, 2012. 
  47. ^ Blueseed on AngelList
  48. ^ Quora question on whether Blueseed can be a successful startup incubator