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For SeaCode, offshoring means three miles off the coast

Founders promise 'the price of India with the proximity of the United States'

July 11, 2005 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - What San Diego-based start-up SeaCode Inc. plans to do is nothing if not novel: anchor a cruise ship three miles off the coast of Los Angeles, fill it with up to 600 programmers from around the world, eliminate visa restrictions and make it easy for customers to visit the site via water taxi. The two men behind the venture -- Roger Green, who describes himself as an IT and outsourcing veteran, and IT consultant David Cook, whose job history includes a stint as a ship captain -- recently discussed their plan in an interview with Computerworld.

Roger Green of SeaCode Inc.
Roger Green of SeaCode Inc.
What is the business model? Green: The promise of the benefits of outsourcing in distant lands doesn't come free. Most of the gotchas are related to the geography and to the cultural difference.

What are some of those gotchas? Green: Communicating requirements, doing knowledge transfer [and] managing the project are very difficult to do even when you are in the same building, [let alone] when it's across the world.

That's the same argument made by nearshore providers in Canada. Cook: But we offer the price of India with the proximity of the United States -- that's the differentiator.

How does that work? Green: The model is based on making a platform, if you will, to house these engineers, this workforce, which is very close to the U.S. but which is in fact not in the U.S. We can pull programmers and engineers from anywhere in the world. A fact of life is there are different skills that are stronger in one country versus another.

Do you have a ship yet? Cook: No, but we have one in mind. We hope to have it set up and ready to run by the beginning of [next] year. She is a used cruise ship.
David Cook of SeaCode Inc.
David Cook of SeaCode Inc.
Why anchor three miles off the coast? Cook: It's just more expensive for us to sit alongside a dock, because you have to pay for the berth space.

Does U.S. labor law apply? Cook: U.S. labor law does not apply except on a U.S. flagship. The flag of the ship will provide the labor law -- more than likely [the ship will be registered in] Vanuatu, the Bahamas or Marshall Islands. Their intellectual property laws, as well as the laws governing seamen, are very similar to the United States'.

What will life be like for your employees? Cook: The pay is about three times what they earn in India today. Each one will have their own room. They will get meals provided for

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