Internet firm floats novel idea to evade visa restriction
THE term 'offshore trading' will take on a whole new meaning when Louth-based technology firm Willstream will locate itself on the world's first floating office block in the sea off the US west coast next year.
The novel tactic has arisen from the company's failure to secure US work permits for its employees.
The company is in negotiations to book office and living space on the cruise vessel, which will serve as an office and home for 1,000 technicians working for companies all over the world -- all of whom have the requirement of being close to Silicon Valley but can't get themselves the vital work permits to be located there.
Willstream, which is located just outside Dundalk, is headed up by CEO Andrew Considine.
The internet firm facilitates African ex-patriots all over the world by letting them pay for goods and services online in their home countries -- a service which is vital for many who earn money abroad and pay for their families back at home.
The firm plans to house between five and 10 staff on the floating office vessel.
Mr Considine says: "US labour laws are notorious and while it might be difficult for Irish or Australian business people to get a green card, it's almost impossible if you're Senegalese or Kenyan.
"The nature of our operations means that we have talented staff from these countries on our books but we also need to have a base within reach of Silicon Valley.
"The area is awash with ideas and there's a huge amount of growth capital for businesses like ours. But the Americans expect to meet you in person to do business with them. Being located over the border in Mexico is just not an option and they won't take you seriously if you do that -- so that's we're negotiating for space on the cruise vessel."
The Blueseed plan, which is headed up by Max Marty, a son of Cuban immigrants, has detailed its intention to rent an entire luxury cruise ship and locate it 12 miles off the Californian Coast in international waters.
By doing so, the firm will evade the need for green cards and the restrictions of US labour relations. Companies will be charged $1,600 (€1,280) per person per month or $3,000 per shared cabin per month.
The ship, which has yet to be purchased, is being marketed not only as a floating office block but as a "hi-tech colony".