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Silicon Valley Entrepreneurs Propose Startup Colony On International Waters

HALF MOON BAY (KPIX 5) -- Citing a shortage of work visas, two Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are floating the idea of a high-tech colony where immigration laws don't apply.

Max Marty calls it Project Blueseed, a live-work colony on a cruise ship that he wants to build for foreign entrepreneurs.

"My vision is to create an entire community focused around accelerating startups," Marty told KPIX 5.

Marty envisions a ship that would be like an island with apartments, cafes, parks and offices. It would be anchored in the Pacific, about 12 miles from Half Moon Bay in international waters.

The colony would be a short ferry ride for the workers, but just far enough to be outside the reach of U.S. immigration laws.

"The reason you have to go offshore is because there is in fact no startup visa; there is no entrepreneur's visa. If you want to come here to create a company, there is usually many different headaches, and workarounds and legal problems that you run into in order to try to do that. Most people are unable to do it or are strongly discouraged from doing it," Marty said.

"It shows the extreme measures that people are willing to take to provide the talent that is sorely needed by the industry," said Prem Uppaluru, also an entrepreneur.

Uppaluru has started several started several high-tech businesses, including Transera, a business software company in Sunnyvale. He said the shortage of work visas is choking off the supply of high-tech talent.

"There's a lot of wait lists, time delays, we have to get lawyers involved and pay for the lawyers' fees. So, it's a bureaucratic hassle with a lot of delay in time," Uppaluru said.

Marty hopes Blueseed can avoid the hassles and capture the Silicon Valley vibe.

"One way or another there is a magic that happens here, and so here is the place where we want to be as well," he said.

More than 300 companies have reportedly signed on to the project. Companies would pay rent and hand over a small equity stake to Blueseed.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Blueseed is trying to raise $27 million for the project.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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