Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Floating home for tech start-ups to beat US rules

image: Floating home for tech start-ups to beat US rules
Facebook started with just a few friends in a Harvard dormroom. Google got going in a California garage. Could the next great tech company begin on a boat? Maybe, if a company called Blueseed gets its way.
Its founder, Max Marty, believes that US immigration laws are stifling entrepreneurs from other countries, so he plans to buy a ship and anchor it in international waters off the coast of California. He hopes that up to a thousand developers could live and work just 20 kilometres offshore, commuting via regular ferries to the mainland for meetings with clients and investors.
Ship residents will pay around $1200 per month for basic accommodation, which Marty says compares favourably with typical rents in San Francisco. Besides their own room, residents will also have access to 24-hour catering, entertainment venues and a gym - along with high-speed internet access, of course. As well as the rent, Blueseed will take a small stake in each startup born on board the ship.
Buying and outfitting such a ship is a challenge in itself - the company estimates it will need a crew of 200-300 cooks, doctors, lawyers and more to keep the vessel running - but the plan could also still be scuppered by US immigration.
Residents will need a B-1 business visa in order to take day trips to the US, but as immigration lawyer Greg Siskind told Ars Technica, even with the right documents it is possible that immigration officials could choose to turn people away at the border. "What that person had for breakfast may determine the future of your business," he said.


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