Offshoring, literally

Posted on April 22, 2005 
Filed Under Uncategorized

Take 600 geeks, put them on an ocean liner, parked 3.1 miles off California, and wallah, you have the antidote to Indian outsourcing.

Sounds crazy? Two San Diego entrepreneurs don’t think so. David Cook and Roger Green, founders of Seacode, think their idea is unsinkable.

The plan is to park their cruise ship off the coast of El Segundo, Calif., just over the 3-mile border that marks international waters.

No more need for pesky H-1B immigration visas. The C-men will fly in and out of Los Angeles International and board the ship with a sailor’s card from the Bahamas, where the ship likely will be registered. This lets the company avoid U.S. payroll taxes on the foreign coders.

The operation will use T3 connections via microwave, cell phone access and local area codes. US providers will supply phone and Internet access.

Cook, a former supertanker skipper, plans to dock in Long Beach once a month to resupply, and reboot, and dispose of waste and empty cgi-bins.

Programmers from India to Russia would have their own cabins, work eight- or ten-hour stretches on either a day or night shift and have the rest of the time to sleep, play or take an half-hour water taxi to shore. Cook imagines a four-months-on, two-months-off work cycle. Take-home pay will be about US$1,800 a month, compared with US$500 per month for an experienced engineer in India.

Cooks says it’s not a sweat-ship but akin to an international space station. The pitch is that Seacode will still charge the same rates as developing-world firms while offering clients freedom from costly flights to India, Israel and other faraway destinations to check in on projects. Work will also get done faster with two shifts.

More in Forbes, Sourcingmag, and Seacode website.

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