Gallery: Paypal Founder Peter Thiel Invests $1.25 Million to Create Flo...

Peter Thiel is known for having big ideas before everyone else - he launched Paypal, funded Facebook, and is now interested in building his very own start-up countries in the far off, open ocean. The self-made billionaire is working closely with the Seasteading Institute to create sovereign nations in international waters, free from the laws of any country.

A well known Libertarian, Thiel suggests these islands may be instrumental in “experimenting with new ideas for government.” One theory implements libertarian ideals such as no welfare, no minimum wage, looser building codes, and fewer weapons restrictions. Another more capitalistic approach called Appletopia, has a corporation starting the country as a business where the more popular it becomes the more valuable the real estate.

These micro-countries built on oil rig-like platforms will be moveable, diesel-powered 12,000 ton structures. Each structure may house up to 270 residents, and they are planned to link together into a massive web. Thiel plans to launch a flotilla office park off the coast of San Francisco next year and predicts full settlement of the first island in 2019. He and the Seasteading Institute aim to have 10 million floating residents by 2050.

Thiel’s ventures have always pushed boundaries. From wanting to use a currency unaffiliated with any nation for Paypal to funding DNA sequencing and commercial space travel, the uncharted and therefore, unregulated realms are his greatest interests. For those who remain pessimistic about this latest project Thiel says, “We don’t need to really worry about those people very much, because since they don’t think it’s possible they won’t take us very seriously. And they will not actually try to stop us until it’s too late.”

+ Seasteading Institute

Via Details Magazine

Photos from the Seastead Design Contest


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  1. Brad Arnold November 13, 2014 at 2:27 am

    Libertarianism is great, but what you are doing is foregoing any governmental security umbrella, and are thus a prime target of pirates (for instance). Libertarians make bad lifeguards.

  2. Andrew Kuess November 12, 2014 at 10:45 am

    Peter Thiel didnt invent this concept. He’s just a rich thief.
    The ORIGINAL concept is meant to eliminate disparity in society, and to be a progression from today’s corporate run system – toward a COOP owned democratically operated corporation of tomorrow. We don’t need CEOs like Peter Thief anymore. They only seek to help themselves.

    If he builds one for himself, I hope it sinks.

  3. Jens Wirichs September 2, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    all these constructions are very nice and good looking but i would never invest into a building for the ocean that does look like this ….
    a monolitic dome type struckture for the ocean is the only practical building and the onlyone that can outlive the storm heavy rain heavy waves and water …..

  4. Allan Leigh September 1, 2014 at 5:20 am

    A very interesting concept.
    Although several would be required for a community to be self sufficient in food products.
    Also most likely practically all other commodities would need to be imported; therefore the population, and all travel requirements for any work, would be difficult in the extreme.
    Consequently they are most likely restricted for use by at least semi wealthy retirees like myself….Cheers Allan & Tichila (Miki) Leigh

  5. LB September 1, 2014 at 4:24 am

    Libertarian? You mean as in liberty for all, not just white men?

  6. annawynn September 20, 2011 at 11:33 am

    If they are so determined to be independent and self sufficient, why should they need the U.S. to supply them with food? How would they earn a living and what would they produce? What would be their currency and what would give it value?

  7. dreggen September 11, 2011 at 4:25 am

    1.25 million dollars sounds like peanuts for such a project. Are you sure it’s not billion rather than million?

  8. superd August 27, 2011 at 9:20 am

    this is idiotic.

  9. Vaiurel August 24, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    Interesting project. If these flotilla will moving (diesel propulsion), they will need some radar control, just to not meet each other like Titanic with aisberg!

  10. beonefree August 24, 2011 at 12:58 am

    Interesting concept, although not appealing to me, I am sure it would be a better alternative to some convict than lifetime in prison. As to the souls who need a mountain to escape, this looks like death. From a libertarian perspective, this even seems to be an oxymoron at least from Ayn Rand’s view. Corporate government does not guarantee freedom as we see it today in our corporate financed Congress. However anyone is free to create their own private hell, and often does at a fortune per square foot.

  11. timothymburke August 23, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    That’s all fine and dandy, I would love to take the wife and kids there to live, too bad though, we’ll never be able to afford it!

    Such habitats are created by millionaires for millionaires to escape from society, which begs the question, “If a neighborhood of powerful millionaires relocate to their own island, what are they escaping from?” since they could already do as they pleased in the first place.

    Such islands serve no purpose at all if the common normal people of the world cannot go live there and be free from the oppression of upper class tyranny, for scientific observation and learning.

    This project is just as pointless as handing $100K to a genius or ivory league student to become successful. If the test is to see that handing poor people $100K to start a business saves schooling then do that, but giving $100K to already successful students proves nothing other than successful good students have potential to be successful, you’re own experiment disproves itself!

    An island for rich people to escape into their riches, yet another fruitless waste of a project from which nothing will ever be learned.

  12. Blueseed August 23, 2011 at 4:53 am

    Please note that The Seasteading Institute is a not-profit and does NOT plan to launch any flotilla office park next year. The Institute’s official statement on this matter is at

    Building actual seasteads is left to for-profit ventures. At the moment, there is only one such venture, Blueseed (

  13. Zeppflyer August 22, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    @jdonkey. That’d be just fine if we were talking about poly sci majors with too much time on their hands and ‘self reliant’ folks who either cruise from couch to couch or live in a trailer in the woods, but the sort who could afford to move to these islands are the people who invent, invest, and create here in America; people worth putting up with. Also lost would be a boatload of tax revenue.

  14. jdonkey123 August 22, 2011 at 11:56 am

    “…And they will not actually try to stop us until it’s too late.”

    Try to stop them!? Why in the hell would anyone try to stop them? “Go live on an island somewhere…” is all I’ve ever wanted for all the nutjob libertarians who think the only mechanism we need for the pursuit of common goals is voluntary participation.

  15. oxfdblue August 22, 2011 at 10:08 am

    He really needs to dump the Ayn Rand books.

    It is amazing that someone who can create something so good as PayPal can also be such a selfish bastard when it comes to having to deal with little things like taxes.

  16. sephyra August 20, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    Brilliant! Perhaps he can call it the Sewee Nation!

  17. zeppflyer August 19, 2011 at 11:36 am

    @Zoomer, true…ish. Are you locked into your phone contract? Howabout a lease? And these have the added benefit to the owners of the island that you can’t just skip town. If you run out of money or afoul of the authorities, you’re on a tiny and (likely) heavily monitored island in the middle of the ocean. Good luck.

  18. bvanwely August 19, 2011 at 8:37 am

    Obviously the brainchild of someone who has never owned a coop apartment. Coop boards are far more dictatorial than any Stalinist government– albeit without the death penalty.

  19. zoomer August 18, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    There is such a thing as a benevolent dictatorship. Problem is, they don’t usually last long!

    However, with a sea of competing ‘corporate countries’ if one of these quasi-governments goes bad, you can simply leave without any restraints and choose another corporate country more to your liking. That is the essence of a free market – and this is the kind of level-playing field that today’s governments should be based on.

    Kudos to Thiel for taking a step forward for humanity. Someone has to step up and break this age-old archaic paradigm of government we have today.

  20. Ralph Gardner August 18, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    I strikes me that using Diesel generators is a bad idea. It is rather difficult to be independent when you depend on an outside source of fuel. Wouldn’t it be better to use solar, wind, tidal/currents or ocean thermal energy conversion?

  21. metro August 18, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    The big problem I see with this idealic dream is Pirates. If you are going to declare yourself sovereign, how are you going to keep someone else from taking what you have? Heavens, look at the Somalia pirate problem.

  22. Arquimal August 18, 2011 at 11:15 am

    Ummm Does the name Bioshock ring a bell, or should we ask Mr Ryan… I mean Peter Thiel, where he got the idea to build Rapture… sorry “floating city states” as a means to escape the parasite, that are trying to rid the working man of what is rightfully his.

    Might I suggest some fictional literature, Bioshock: Rapture, by John Shirley or a video game called Bioshock, they might prove to be very very enlightening.

  23. terencerobert August 18, 2011 at 7:37 am

    For such well thought out plans, I question the docking of a container ship, and I wonder why a sailboat with wind in the sails is 20 feet from the dock, and whether the tugboat captain must have an apartment there. But the other rich folk would not want to view tugboats and container ships smelling up the area or even being in view. This is mostly architects dreams since real life islands would need to be much simpler and semi-affordable for .0001 of the population. It was interesting, at least.

  24. best ideas August 18, 2011 at 6:01 am

    oh, he will surely make a lot of money with this.
    plenty of illegal business you can do there.

  25. sth2ao August 17, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    @ zeppflyer Although not included in this article, the one over at either Yahoo or Details does indicate that Thiel states that it’d be very likely that the Seasteads would, in fact, be operated by business dictatorships… with the exception being that you can freely leave.

    You might be able to get around that if you’ve got enough of the things together, but otherwise these things cram a small village together into what I’m guessing would be roughly the size of a large oil platform… without the ability to freely leave unless a boat is docked.

    But, it would give the members the ability to see what kinds of rules/laws are necessary for stability over varying periods of time, and which ones can be dumped… at least with the member population (who knows how that data would actually be carried over to typical populations of various cultures).

    Me, I’d happily live on one of these… for a time, at least.

  26. design victim August 17, 2011 at 2:00 pm


  27. zeppflyer August 17, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    This has come up before and it in no way green. Sticking people out on artificial islands only makes it that much more resource intensive to get goods out to them. There’s a reason that everything is so expensive in Honolulu or Fairbanks.

    Furthermore, this highlights two bothersome trends in libertarianism:
    1. A focus on the names of authority rather than their substance. A democratically run city is evil, but a governmentless company town where the mine or mill owns the stores, land, and courts is just fine.

    2. A belief that hostile environment habitats can be organized along libertarian lines. The space habitat is a common trope in anarchist fiction, but nowhere would require more forced organization. Even Heinlein takes this copout and puts in an authoritarian government to get the ball rolling in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

    While yes, you could have hostile environment settlements founded and run by private enterprise, they would require residents to adhere to a very strict set of rules and living conditions. The Jeffersonian ideal can only happen when resources are abundant.

  28. martxthexkid August 17, 2011 at 9:33 am

    “experimenting with new ideas for government” with no welfare, no minimum wage, looser building codes, and fewer weapons restrictions is far from being new! It does exist already and it’s called Somalia!

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