January 4, 2012
A startup company's brainstorm for bringing more foreign entrepreneurs to the United States has caught the attention of the international press and put the spotlight on a young McGeorge alumnus.
Dario Mutabdzija, '08, LLM '09, is the president of Sunnyvale-based Blueseed Co., which wants to anchor a large vessel off the California coast to house international impresarios who have dreams of creating the next Google but can't get visas to work in the United States. Blueseed CEO Max Marty and Mutabdzija have been quoted in articles in USA Today, the Financial Times, The Economist, Economic Times of India, and La Tribute in recent weeks on their "Geek Boat" concept.
Many talented young foreigners come to the United States for an education, but have to leave after graduation because of immigration rules. Blueseed aims to provide a remedy to that red tape by giving foreign entrepreneurs a place to build their companies only a short boat ride from high tech's hub — Silicon Valley.
"Our solution to (the visa problem) is an entrepreneurial one," Mutabdzija says. "If you want to grow a company, physical interactions are of paramount importance. We would be docked 12 miles southwest of San Francisco in international waters and our tenants would commute to work on a smaller ferry."
The futuristic scheme may sound like something out of the Jules Verne genre, but it has caught the attention of venture capitalists, including PayPal founder Peter Thiel, who is leading Blueseed's financing search. Many practical hurdles lie ahead, but there are cruise ships sitting idle around the world that could easily be converted to a floating hotel.
Gabriel Jack, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney, thinks the plan is legally sound. "There's nothing in the visa law that says how often you can visit the United States," he told Wired magazine. "If they make it clear that they work in international waters and are using a visitor visa to stay on land, I don't see how the immigration department can do anything about it legally."
Mutabdzija knows what it's like to come to a new country to start a career. Born and raised in Sarajevo, he came to the United States with his family when war broke out in Bosnia. After earning his J.D. at McGeorge, he entered the law school's renowned LLM in Transnational Business Practice program. Mutabdzija studied at the University of Salzburg for one semester, returned to Sacramento for a second semester then interned with the Vienna office of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, one of the largest law firms in the world. Prior to joining Blueseed, Mutabdzija served as director of legal strategy for The Seasteading Institute, a think tank that aims to promote the establishment of permanent, autonomous ocean communities.