Seasteading Institute: Billionaire backer doesn’t ‘dictate’ our island-state plans

Liz Goodwin
The Lookout

A  group that wants to create sovereign nations on oil rig-like platforms in international waters is distancing itself from the libertarianism of PayPal founder Peter Thiel after a profile of him in Details Magazine drew attention to the effort.

The Details profile described billionaire Thiel's $1.25 million donation to the Seasteading Institute, and speculated that the Seasteading nation-building project would be "a kind of floating petri dish for implementing policies that libertarians, stymied by indifference at the voting booths, have been unable to advance: no welfare, looser building codes, no minimum wage, and few restrictions on weapons."

But Seasteading Senior Director Randy Hencken writes in a statement that Thiel's libertarian politics are his own, not the institute's.

"Of course, Thiel is our most generous funder, but this doesn't mean that he dictates our plans," he writes. "While it is possible that the first seastead will be operated by libertarian entrepreneurs who wish to opt-out of the status quo, The Seasteading Institute remains steadfast about being apolitical and desires to see the creation of thousands of innovative governments on seasteads competing for citizens."

Hencken also said that the nonprofit group has no immediate plans to start an island. Another sea-steading group, called Blueseed, plans to open an office on a boat in international waters outside San Francisco where it says tech entrepreneurs can work without obtaining U.S. visas as early as next year.

The Lookout's quick summary of and link to the Details story was shared 68,000 times on Facebook.

Update: Another Seasteading official, Dan Dascalescu, writes in to add that Seasteading's goals have remained consistent. Thiel "has been on-board with these goals, as evidenced by his continued support, and these goals have always been greater than libertarian or other political ideologies."