The Silicon Valley start-up dream is still alive and well. But it just might be moving 12 nautical miles off shore if two entrepreneurs get their ship to come in.
Max Marty, the son of Cuban immigrants, and Dario Mutabdzija, who came to the U.S. from the former Yugoslavia, are frustrated by the current Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) visa system. They say it maroons some of the world's brightest science and engineering minds.
Enter Blueseed. The plan is to station a ship 12 nautical miles from the coast of San Francisco, in international waters. The location will allow startup entrepreneurs from anywhere in the world to start or grow their company near Silicon Valley, without the need for a U.S. work visa. The ship will be converted into a coworking and co-living space, and will have high-speed Internet access and daily transportation to the mainland via ferry boat.
So far, over 1000 entrepreneurs from 60+ countries have expressed interest in living on the ship. The company's website says, "We plan to launch in Q2 2014, offering living and office space in an elegantly designed modern tech environment so compelling that it will be called the “Googleplex of the Sea”, attracting top entrepreneurial and technology talent from all over the world to Silicon Valley, where they can create companies and jobs, and develop disruptive and innovative technologies."
Here are a few of the high points of this entrepreneurial life at sea:
- Comfortable living quarters accommodating one to four individuals per room
- Catering and food services at cafes and 24-hour venues around the ship
- Recreational facilities including a full service gym, game rooms, and other entertainment venues
- A comfortable and inspiring environment enriched by international experiences and lifestyles
- Customizable individual or group office space in a variety of size and furnishing configurations
- A professional environment that is conducive to creative, innovative, and stress-free productivity
- Cost-effective, modern, simplified legal and business environment with low overhead
- Ship-wide high-speed Internet access
- Peace of mind including 24-hour security, concierge, and medical services
- On-board convenience stores and post office
- Convenient access to the SF Bay Area
- Ferry and other access services for onboard foreign national clients or US domestic commuters
When asked how Blueseed will help the American economy, the founders come back with job creation.
[caption id="attachment_20513" align="alignright" width="213" caption="Max Marty, Blueseed CEO"][/caption]
The simple answer is that studies show how existing firms are net job destroyers, losing 1 million jobs net combined per year. By contrast, in their first year, new firms add an average of 3 million jobs. These new firms include startups created by entrepreneurs. Blueseed brings to the Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, who by definition, start companies and create jobs.
Every year about 120,000 computer-engineering jobs are created in this country, but only 40,000 college students graduate each year with a computer science degree. Presumably companies with those vacant jobs won't wait for more U.S. graduates so they may move to other countries looking for qualified workers.
Case in point, last September we wrote in this Staffing Talk post about a 32-page report from Microsoft called, “A National Talent Strategy; Ideas For Securing U.S. Competitiveness and Economic Growth.” You can read the entire report here.
Basically, the tech company says it spends more money on research and development than any other in the world, and is “opening up new jobs in the United States faster than we can fill them.”
“We fear jobs will start to migrate to other countries,” said Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel and executive vice president, at a press briefing.
"We fear jobs will start to migrate to other countries."
Microsoft calls for a new and supplemental allocation of 20,000 H-1B STEM visas to meet employers’ hiring needs and generate up to $200 million for new investments in the American STEM pipeline. They also recommend recapturing 20,000 unused employment-based green card numbers annually to reduce the green card backlog and generate up to $300 million for new investments in the American STEM pipeline.
In January, Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) introduced the Immigration Innovation Act, which would increase the number of STEM visas and use the fees obtained from those visa applications to fund STEM education programs within the United States.
“Legal immigration is good for this country,” Rubio said on the Senate floor. “And the legal immigration system that we have in place does not work for America in the 21st century.”
“Legal immigration is good for this country. And the legal immigration system that we have in place does not work for America in the 21st century.”
President Obama, in his State of the Union speech in February, called for "real reform" that would "attract the highly skilled entrepreneurs and engineers that will help create jobs and grow our economy."
While immigration reform for high-tech workers may be gaining momentum on Capitol Hill, it's not coming fast enough for Silicon Valley, particularly the Blueseed founders.
"There really is no place in the world like Silicon Valley," said Blueseed CEO and co-founder Max Marty. "We are creating this place right near Silicon Valley so that people have the ability to come in and out and partake in the magic that helps those companies to grow."
What do you think of this idea? Is it cool? Or the act of rogues bent on circumventing the law? Do you believe there should be a cap on how many STEM visas can be given out each year? Or do you agree with the group of senators who say the cap harms the economy because STEM immigrants create more jobs?