Going offshore on the Love Boat

We all know about tax havens, but what about offshoring havens.

A former supertanker captain David Cook and his partner Roger Green are taking offshoring to the absolute extreme by putting 600 software engineers on a ship just off the coast of Los Angeles.

They will be on a fully staffed luxury liner that is flagged in a foreign country such as the Bahamas or the Marshall Islands in order to get around the US's H-1B visa requirements operating in the US.

Under the H-1B rulings there is a limit on the number of foreign workers that US businesses can bring into the country.

The company itself, called SeaCode, has its headquarters in San Diego and will pay US taxes. Startup costs will be huge.

In fact, SeaCode is working with a broker to find a suitable ship that will cost anywhere from $US10 million to $300 million.

Once the ship is in the water, which company founders predict will happen by the beginning of next year, SeaCode will employ a full onboard staff, providing its programmers with private living quarters, laundry service, three meals a day and medical care.

Incredibly, investors are already lining up and a number of Fortune 1000 companies are potential clients.

They say their business model - which includes round-the-clock shift work - will enable them to pay foreign workers two to three times as much as they would make in places such as India or China and still offer US clients outsourcing packages that rival true offshore deals.

Critics are claiming it will be an interesting HR experiment, but not quite the Love Boat. It will either be like school with flourishing romances and the usual bullies or it will be more like a nuthouse with so many people living in such close proximity. Innovative? Pundits aren't so sure claiming it makes them a little queasy, even a tad seasick.

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