Silicon Valley at sea aims to stem the tide of brain drain

thumbnailby Amber Davis

WHAT’S HAPPENING

  • Changes in visa policy have made it harder for highly educated  immigrants to launch companies in the US — especially in Silicon Valley. One solution? Move the whole thing to a ship in international waters.
  • The idea was cooked up by son of Cuban immigrants and CEO of Blueseed Co. Max Marty. Docking a dozen miles southwest of San Francisco would put a ship close enough for investors and entrepreneurs to meet, but far enough to avoid US immigration policies (Latino.Foxnews.com, 16 December 2011).
  • The vessel would have standard startup incubator amenities and some of the perks associated with established tech outfits, including exercise facilities and gourmet cafeterias.
  • In 2011, Sens. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Richard Lugar (R-Ind) reintroduced the Startup Visa Act to Congress, which would give foreign-born entrepreneurs a shot at two-year visas provided that they secure American investors and can “demonstrate the ability to create American jobs.” But it’s unlikely that the bill will become policy any time soon (StartupVisa.com, December 2011).
  • Marty hopes to raise the $10-$30 million necessary to launch in 2013. With Pay Pal founder Peter Thiel helping Blueseed identify investors, startups at sea could become a reality.

WHAT THIS MEANS TO BUSINESS

  • Current immigration polices aren’t just shutting down opportunities for those coming to the US, they are having an effect on opportunities created in the States and the ability of the country to stay competitive globally.
  • With millions of Americans still holding out hope that job creation will pick up, the “brain drain,” or loss of foreign-born entrepreneurs to more accommodating countries, could become a bigger part of the everyday conversation about the “costs” of immigrants/immigration.

RESOURCES

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