Search This Blog

Monday, December 19, 2011

Silicon Valley startup sees entrepreneur-ship as visa solution

This is a great idea for talented high tech folks who want to work near San Jose/Silicon Valley and cant afford the red tape. I believe this will get done due to demand for skilled people cheap in the valley....It will get funded, its just when ....
SUNNYVALE -- You've heard of tech companies starting in a Silicon Valley garage. What about on a ship?
That's the idea being floated by a California startup that wants to dock a vessel off the coast to house foreign entrepreneurs who have dreams of creating the next Google (GOOG) but can't get visas to work in the United States.
Sunnyvale-based Blueseed Co. says current immigration rules can sink promising ventures and torpedo innovation and job creation.
The ship aims to provide a remedy by giving foreign entrepreneurs a place to build their companies only a short boat ride from high tech's hub.
"A lot of people say, 'I'd like to go to Silicon Valley' but there is no way for them to do it," said Max Marty, Blueseed CEO and co-founder.
Marty, the son of Cuban immigrants, thought of the ship after listening to international classmates of his at the University of Miami business school lament about having to leave the U.S. after graduation.
Politicians have wrangled with the issue, but efforts to change the system have stalled.
Last July, President Barack Obama said during a Twitter town hall he wanted to make sure talented people who studied in the U.S. were able to stay to create jobs.
"We don't
want to pay for training them here and then having them benefit other countries," Obama said.
A bill to address so-called brain-drain was reintroduced this year by Sens. Mark Udall, D-Colo., John Kerry, D-Mass., and Richard Lugar, R-Ind. The Startup Visa Act would allow immigrant entrepreneurs and foreign graduates from U.S. universities to appeal for a two-year visa "on condition that they secure financing from a qualified U.S. investor and can demonstrate the ability to create American jobs."
But Blueseed founders don't expect any real reform from a bitterly divided Congress during an election year.
"Our solution is an entrepreneurial solution," said Dario Mutabdzija, Blueseed's president.
From cruise ships to oil rigs to military aircraft carriers, there are several examples of individuals living and working on ships. This one would accommodate about 1,000 people and be docked 12 miles southwest of San Francisco Bay, in international waters.
It would be registered in a country with a reputable legal system, maybe the Bahamas or the Marshall Islands, Marty said. Residents would be subject to the laws of that nation.
Residents would be ferried ashore with temporary business or tourist visas, which are easier to get, to meet with investors, collaborators, partners and others. Mutabdzija said the ability to have face-to-face meetings cannot be underestimated when trying to gain trust -- and secure funds -- from investors.
"Yes, we live in an interconnected age with Skype and other video conferencing. But if you want to grow a company, physical interactions are of paramount importance," Mutabdzija said. "We're a startup. We ran into this. Some people said if you're not within a 20 mile radius, we won't talk to you."
The proximity to high-tech's center, Silicon Valley, is also important.
"The talent, the money, the expertise and a cultural acceptance of risk. Elsewhere if it doesn't work out, you're a black sheep and the funds dry up," Mutabdzija said.
The ship would be a remodeled cruise ship or barge that Blueseed leases or owns. It would have all the high-tech amenities expected of a startup incubator and the look of employee-friendly Internet giants Facebook and Google, famous for their modern campuses complete with gourmet cafeterias, exercise facilities and an environmentally-sustainable design.
A live-work space would cost about $1,200 a month.
Logistical support, including food and other supplies, would come from local businesses along the coast, helping the economies of Half Moon Bay and San Francisco, though it hasn't been determined exactly which port Blueseed would use.
A helicopter also would be available for emergencies.
Critics deride the ship as a publicity stunt, and say investors would be better served contributing to ventures that help Americans create businesses.
"I would say the whole thing is a perfect metaphor for how in corporate America the practice to grow talent and incubate business locally is drifting away -- quite literally," said Bob Dane, of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which advocates for limited immigration.
But supporters of foreign entrepreneurship say immigrants are responsible for some of the most successful businesses in the world and if the U.S. doesn't try to attract them, others will.
"The ship may sound like a crazy idea but it illustrates how seriously flawed the immigration system here is," said John Feinblatt, who runs Partnership for a New American Economy, which advocates for immigration reform.
The organization published a report in June that said 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children.
Feinblatt said countries including Chile, Singapore and the United Kingdom have programs to attract immigrant entrepreneurs.
"While the U.S. is driving people away, other countries are welcoming them with open arms," he said. "If you miss out on them, you miss their talent, their ideas and ultimately the jobs that they create and the taxes that they pay."
Christopher S. Bentley, a spokesman with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said the agency has not seen the proposal and it's premature to comment.
Maritime experts say such an idea is feasible, but very costly.
"A good single point mooring costs in the millions of dollars but it could restrain a ship-shape vessel in quite severe storms and in deep water," said Bil Stewart, CEO of Houston-based Stewart Technology Associates, an engineering consultancy specializing in offshore and marine structures.
"But it would be prudent if the vessel had its own propulsion if you had a Pacific hurricane come along," Stewart added.
Blueseed's idea has started gaining steam.
Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel, a founder of PayPal, announced he would lead Blueseed's financing search. Thiel has been a big supporter of "seasteads" -- self-ruling cities on the ocean -- and both Marty and Mutabdzija worked at the Seasteading Institute.
Blueseed wants to raise $10 million to $30 million over the next year and a half. The goal would be to launch in late 2013.

Friday, December 2, 2011


Should you consider listing your home during the holidays?

I would agree with the author that the advantage is that many people hold off and wait till the spring. That gives those willing to list during the holidays a distinct advantage...
Why not enjoy less inventory and listings if you are going to list your home?
Sometimes going against the grain has its pay offs!

As the holidays approach, I'm always asked the same questions:
Should we keep our property on the real estate market or take it off?
Do we list now, wait until after the first of the year, or hold off until spring?
In the past, conventional wisdom said you shouldn't try to sell a home during the holidays. However, the old thinking doesn't really apply any longer - thanks to the Internet and hectic lifestyles as well as traditional rules of supply and demand.
Whether to sell or not at the end of the year has to do with your particular situation and market. But in general, here's some real estate advice about why you should consider listing your home during the holidays, or even in January.
Buyers are always looking for properties online

Historically, potential home buyers felt that the holidays were too hectic for home shopping. They were preoccupied with planning parties, cooking meals, buying presents or planning vacations. Going out with a real estate agent to look at properties conflicted with a busy holiday schedule. This made perfect sense - before the Internet, smart phones, and tablets came along.
In my opinion, traditional buying and selling seasons have evolved as a result of instant, ubiquitous access to property listings. Someone who is serious today about buying real estate is always looking.
Our hectic

lifestyles also play a role. Often, serious buyers are working hard and not shifting into holiday mode until the last minute. Even during the holiday break, they're squeezing in work. They're already staying "on the grid," so why not continue monitoring the real estate listings in their area too?
The inventory - and the competition - is usually lighter during the holidays

Despite our always-on access to property listings today, there's still a lingering perception that the year-end holidays aren't a good time to list a home. Similarly, if your property has been sitting on the market for months, conventional wisdom says to give it a rest during the holidays. Given these factors, we end up seeing the inventory for good homes tighten up this time of year. But buyers are still out there looking at real estate and no doubt wishing there were more properties available.
In fact, if I have a seller who has been talking about selling, is truly motivated, is flexible on timing, and has a home that truly sparkles, I often suggest they list right after Thanksgiving. There's still a window of several weeks to get buyers into your home before the end of the year. And those buyers flipping through listings at their kid's soccer game will be so excited to see something new and awesome hitting the market - especially if there's a lack of good inventory in their area. Those motivated soccer moms and dads are the ones who'll take the time to see your home, regardless of what the calendar says.
Home been on the market too long? This could be a great time to lower the price or change your strategy

If your property has been sitting on the market for months, most buyers and their agents will see it as stale or overpriced and disregard it - no matter how great it is or how light the competition currently is.
In that scenario, it's time to take action, and the year-end holidays can be a golden opportunity to shift course. Making a dramatic price reduction or overcoming some major obstacle that has been preventing the sale might be just the right thing to do this time of year. If you had lower offers early on but you weren't ready to accept them, or you keep hearing that there are issues with the way your property shows, this could be your chance to show the market you're listening and serious about selling. The motivated buyers will notice you and take a look.
You even stand a chance of getting a sale closed before the end of the year; I've seen it happen. As always, before you make any big changes, talk it over with your real estate agent.
Don't want to be bothered during the holidays? List your property in January

Admittedly, the thought of keeping the house clean, holding open houses, and vacating to accommodate last-minute showings during the holidays is a deal killer for some. If so, consider listing your property after New Year's Day.
Traditionally, we don't see much inventory coming on the market in January. It's cold in most places, and many sellers prefer to wait until the spring, a more conventional time to sell. As a result, we don't see much inventory in January. And yet, each January my phone rings with new buyers wanting to get into the market. Or I'll hear from on-the-fence buyers who may have lost interest earlier in the year and are now suddenly motivated again.
The something about the beginning of a new year that galvanizes people. The motivation to buy could be due to year-end tax planning, with buyers seeing how much they owe and how owning a home could help. It could be because of New Year's resolutions to finally stop spending money on rentals and invest in property. Maybe a rich relative gave them money for a down payment (wouldn't that be nice?).
Whatever the motivation, for sellers it means one thing: There can be an increase in demand at a time when inventory is traditionally low - resulting in less competition from other sellers. If you're motivated to sell your home, you'll have an even more "captive" audience in January.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

San Jose has China boosters — in Ireland

Gotta love the business journal....has some of the best material out there...
Chinese in Ireland...oh the luck of the IRISH!
read on

Eli Segall
Reporter - Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal
San Jose city officials could get some help in their efforts to lure Chinese companies to the South Bay.
The source? Ireland.
The capital city of Dublin recently established a sister city affiliation with China’s capital, Beijing, and it "sees opportunity to bring San Jose into this relationship," Kim Walesh, San Jose’s director of economic development, said in a memorandum on Tuesday.
San Jose officials discussed this and other topics early last month, when a 16-member San Jose-Dublin Sister City delegation visited Dublin Oct. 6-10.
“San Jose could benefit from having high-level contacts in Beijing, since we are interested in Chinese companies coming to San Jose to serve the U.S. market,” Walesh said in the memo.
Walesh — along with other city officials and various South Bay executives — has participated in a consortium known as the “Silicon Valley-China Business Connect.” Group members started meeting more than a year ago, with the goal of luring Chinese technology companies to enter or expand in the region.
Members include accounting firm Deloitte, business lender Silicon Valley Bank , real estate brokerage Colliers International , and law firm O’Melveny & Myers LLP.
Walesh did not reference the consortium in her memo.
She did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
As of early September, consortium members had not finalized how they would actually operate. However, they have said they do not plan to open a permanent office in China.

San Jose's updated general plan emphasizes 'smart growth,' healthier communities

Gotta like the cities new plans for "smart growth"
the tag line kinda works for what is ailing our nation....
Jobs before housing. People before cars.
San Jose as usual seems to be on the cusp of how the nation should be planning for the future....
Maybe Mayor Chuck Reed GETS IT !!!
I am encouraged to see this kind of smart planning and am very behind it.
Healthier populations less reliant on cars....Music to my ears =)
I think the city is planning well, read on:

Jobs before housing. People before cars.
After 51 task force meetings, seven community workshops and 125 "outreach sessions" stretching over four years, San Jose's Planning Department will cross the finish line at Tuesday's City Council meeting with that message when it delivers a blueprint of what San Jose will look and feel like in the decades to come.
Called Envision San Jose 2040, the city's fourth general plan since the mid-1970s is the community's land-use constitution. The report lays out a long-term vision for the amount, type and phasing of development needed to meet the city's social, economic and environmental goals.
While it's true that many of the participants agreed the final product took too long to achieve, with few exceptions they seem satisfied with the outcome that emphasizes two major themes: moving San Jose away from its "bedroom community" and "Los Angeles of the north" legacy by increasing its employment and tax base; and designing the kinds of neighborhoods that create healthier populations less reliant on cars.
"Think about how you lived 30 years ago and how you live today and what has changed," Planning Director Joe Horwedel said. "Now, think about 30 years from now and how you'll live, how your kids will live and what you would like to work better."
For many, he said, it's not having to drive as much. Horwedel and other planners envision "urban villages" closer to where San Jose residents live that

offer a variety of ways to live, work, shop and play all at one location.
The one-stop lifestyle isn't going to happen tomorrow, Horwedel said. But these and other key concepts are part of what the 2040 general plan is aiming for in the coming three decades.
With about a million residents, San Jose is the 10th-largest U.S. city -- and the third-largest in California. So the scope of its planning challenges is complicated.
The cash-strapped city, for example, has tried before to stop converting its valuable remaining industrial land -- where it could locate businesses that provide both jobs and taxes -- for housing. But powerful housing developers and lobbyists have pressured many City Council members to ignore that objective.
This plan, said City Councilman and task force member Pierluigi Oliverio, "is stating loud and clear that we have a budget crisis, and we need to manage land use differently."
The updated general plan, expected to be voted on by the council Tuesday night, does that by seeking to preserve land for jobs; develop only within existing municipal street, sewer and utility areas; and build taller, denser housing mixed with retail and office space -- all of which generates more taxes to pay for city services such as police protection and libraries.
"It will take political will to implement the plan and stay true to the principles that are in the plan,'' said Assistant Planning Director Laurel Prevetti, adding that she has "confidence in our elected officials."
Among the goals the plan suggests over the next three decades within the city's 180 squares miles are:
Adding as many as 470,000 new jobs and 120,000 new housing units.
Emphasizing growth in the downtown, North San Jose and "urban villages" along current and future transit lines such as BART, high-speed rail and dedicated bus lanes.
Rethinking the design of major streets to encourage more biking and walking.
Equally important to many is what won't be developed: Both mid-Coyote Valley and South Almaden Valley are off-limits to development through 2040. (South Coyote Valley remains protected as a greenbelt.)
"In the past, San Jose had a tendency to grow by sprawling out onto the farm lands," said Michele Beasley of the Greenbelt Alliance. "That's why the general plan says we should basically accommodate growth through infill development" that promotes new housing, jobs and retail around transit corridors.
Another big objective: reducing car miles traveled by 40 percent over the next three decades -- not only through the addition of at least 70 urban villages, but also by adding miles of trails and bike paths.
"For over a half-century, San Jose's development patterns have built a city for cars, and our sprawl and auto-dependence reflects those choices," said City Councilman Sam Liccardo, who along with former Councilwoman Shirley Lewis co-chaired the 33-member task force of community leaders appointed by the council. "We've got a vision to transform this to a city designed for people rather than for cars, and we'll measure our success by the vibrancy and usage of our sidewalks, bike lanes and transit corridors."
Developers and builders, however, aren't as thrilled with the plan's outcome, which will affect their ability to build as many large and lucrative housing tracts. Instead, the emphasis will be on more -- and taller -- apartments and condos, with some townhomes and single-family homes.
Task force member Erik Schoennauer, a land-use consultant whose father was a city planning director, signed off on the plan, albeit reluctantly. Though he admires its progressive themes, he's concerned about how private property owners and developers "can invest in the city." The plan, he said, "makes it more difficult to determine how to do that."
Developer Michael Van Every, another member of the task force, was more blunt.
"They have eliminated quite a few jobs by limiting housing," said the senior vice president at Republic Urban Properties. "You can't put artificial caps on housing and somehow decide that jobs are more important, when jobs and housing are synchronous."
Both Horwedel and Prevetti acknowledge that the new plan does change a builder or developer's world.
But that, they say, isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Said Horwedel: "This plan was very much about San Jose being in control of our future rather than a developer in the past deciding what was in their best interest in flipping property to housing."

San Jose presents land deal for A's ballpark

Well I like what I am hearing recently....Looks like San Jose may be home to the San Jose As soon as well as the Santa Clara 49ers....I think residents/homeowners can smile about this and see some value added to their homes! We would welcome 2 new professional sports franchises to the SOUTH BAY, at least this realtor would! I would think it should only help home values in the area.
I personally have been a backer of this effort:

The Oakland As can do a Silicon Valley Relocation at any time it suits them as far as I am concerned!

The city of San Jose has released plans to allow the A's an option to purchase six parcels of land, about 5 acres in all, for a downtown stadium - and at a reduced rate.

Mayor Chuck Reed suggested Thursday that this arrangement is one more piece of the puzzle to convince Major League Baseball that an A's ballpark in San Jose is a viable proposition and that it could proceed with few impediments if approved.

"This option allows Lew Wolff one more thing to tell the commissioner that has been done," Reed said, "and that San Jose is still able to move forward."

Wolff, the A's co-owner, said that the option to buy downtown land, located near the Diridon Caltrain station, was not tied to any requests by Major League Baseball, but it does help dot some i's.

"It's just a piece of getting it done, if we are fortunate enough to get it done," Wolff said. "But Major League Baseball had nothing to do with this. We're in no different position than we were before."

The final purchase price, were the A's to exercise the option, would be $6.98 million. The city paid $25.1 million for the proposed ballpark site, including relocation costs, and the value of the entire site, according to an appraisal conducted last September, would be $13.97 million if the area were to be developed for "highest and best use."

Reed said that the city's offer to the A's is below the market value because the team still would have to spend $400 million to $500 million to build a stadium. In addition, Reed said, the option stipulates that the land would go to the A's only to build a stadium. In other words, the team couldn't snap up cheap land to put up an office tower or condos instead of a ballpark.

"It's a favorable price based on the fact that it's restricted to a baseball park," Reed said. "What San Jose is getting out of it is that we're taking land that is generating almost nothing and we'll be generating revenues."

If the proposal is passed by the San Jose City Council on Nov. 8, the A's would have the right to pay $50,000 for a two-year option to purchase the land, plus a $25,000 option for a third year. The A's owners will not buy the site outright, however, unless Major League Baseball decides to grant the team the right to move to San Jose, which is considered part of the Giants' territory.

The sale and ballpark also must be approved by San Jose voters, possibly in the June election. MLB, which has dragged out its decision on any potential A's stadium for nearly three years, has promised to help fund a special election, if one is required.

Simply buying land is no assurance of anything. The A's owners already have purchased a large quantity of land for one failed stadium endeavor, 143 acres in Fremont. The team still owns that property, according to Wolff, and is seeking to sell it.

There are three remaining privately-owned parcels needed to complete the San Jose site, but Reed said he does not believe the city would use eminent domain to acquire them. "We think we'll arrive at a reasonable price," he said. "It's a real-estate deal."

It is unlikely baseball owners would consider the A's stadium at their meetings in Milwaukee next month because the Dodgers' ownership situation is expected to dominate the agenda. Meetings scheduled for January might be more likely.

Read more: