PayPal Founder Funds Island Nation Project
One of billionaire Peter Thiel's latest interests may lead to floating cities and office parks built in the Pacific Ocean and governed by very few laws or regulations.

Thiel, who gained his fame and money by founding PayPal and providing money to help the startup company Facebook spread from Harvard to the world, has now invested  $1.25 million in an organization that wants to create libertarian-style communities in the ocean off San Francisco.

The Seasteading Institute has plans to construct floating communities on oil-rig-style platforms in the Pacific Ocean, beyond the reach of law-of-the-sea treaties. Plans are in the works for an office park to be started next year and an architectural prototype for a moveable, diesel-powered community to accommodate 270 residents is being drawn.

The grandiose plans foresee millions of residents on these floating communities by 2050. They would be created on an Ayn Rand-style model, which means a minimal government with no welfare, loose building codes, no minimum wage and few restrictions on weapons, Thiel told Details magazine.

Eventually, the creators envision a flotilla of platforms linked together.

"We're at this pretty important point in society," says Thiel, a 43-year old libertarian. "We can either find a way to rediscover a frontier, or we're going to be forced to change in a way that 's really tough.

"One of the things that's endlessly dazzling and mesmerizing is this question about the future-what the world is going to be like in 20 years and what can or should we do to make it better than the default track that it's on," he says.

The creators of the Seasteading Institute see the opportunity as one where people can move from a government that does not work to one that does and that will attract people who feel politically marginalized.

For those who think it can't be done, Thiel says those people do not matter.  "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 is too late."

The leader in the Seasteading project is 35-year-old Patri Friedman, a former Google engineer and grandson of Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Freidman. Friedman acknowledges some ideas start out as "weird," but he has faith in the floating libertarian communities.

Flexjet To Offer New Learjet 85

Flexjet says it will be the first private jet charter company to offer fractional ownership of the new Learjet 85 when it is delivered in the last quarter of 2013.

The new Learjet is the first to be built primarily of carbon composites and features advances in aerodynamics, structure and efficiency, according to Flexjet. The eight-passenger plane will have additional interior room, a high-speed cruise of Mach 0.82 and a transcontinental range of up to 3,000 nautical miles. It also features advanced entertainment and Internet systems.

Flexjet, which is a division of Bombardier, one of the world's largest business aviation manufacturers, has been in the fractional jet ownership market since 1995.  The firm will offer incentives to current and new customers to switch to the Learjet 85.

Flexjet is offering guaranteed access to the new plane once it is delivered and will waive early termination fees for existing contracts on other aircraft types that are set to expire after the delivery of the Learjet 85.

The composite structure of the Learjet 85 is designed to enhance passenger comfort, according to Flexjet. It is the largest plane in the Learjet line.

Flexjet also offers whole aircraft ownership, jet cards and charter brokerage services, as well as fractional jet ownership.

-Karen DeMasters


SOCAP 11 will be held September 6-9 at the Ft. Mason Center in San Francisco. The conference is part of Social Capital Market's event series connecting investors, foundations, institutions and social entrepreneurs worldwide to address the impact investing market-an emerging asset class that provides financial gains for investors with a social and environmental benefit. Go to for further information.

The Marketing and Client Servicing for Hedge Funds Conference, hosted by Financial Research Associates, will be held September 8-9 at The Princeton Club in New York City. Go to for further information.

The 11th Annual New York International Film & TV Finance Summit, a forum to explore how independents can find financing to make, distribute and market films, will be held September 22-23 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City. Go to or call 800-207-4432 for more information.

The Fiduciary Gatekeeper Research Manager Summit, produced by Financial Advisor and Private Wealth magazines, will be held September 26-28 at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel and Towers in Boston. Morningstar's head of fund research will be on hand to explain the company's new system for rating analysts. Go to for further information.

The inaugural Chicago Ideas Week, a gathering of top innovators, thinkers and creators from around the world, will be held October 10-16 in Chicago. Speakers include former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and John Thorn, the official historian for Major League Baseball. Go to for further information.

The FOX Fall Forum, featuring keynote speaker Richard N. Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, will be held October 17-19 in Chicago. The event is for qualified family offices only. Go to for more information.

The 9th Annual Point of Change Nonprofit Conference, sponsored by the Connecticut Association of Nonprofits, will be held November 10 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Cromwell, Conn. The event will address economic and legislative changes facing the nonprofit sector as demands for services rise. Go to for more information.

On The Move

Mercer has appointed Senior Partner Tom Murphy as head of investment management for the U.S. region. He will remain a member of Mercer's global investment management leadership team and will be based in Boston. With Mercer since 1997, Murphy has held various positions most recently as head of investment management for the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region.

New York based Pulse Capital Partners LLC has named Luke Imperatore as managing director with a focus on marketing. Imperatore's primary responsibility will be marketing the firm's suite of acceleration/seed products and working with institutional investors in the company's customized portfolios business. Imperatore has nearly 15 years of experience marketing hedge funds, most recently as managing director at IMC Asset Management, a Dutch financial trading firm. 

Raymond James has hired financial advisor Troy H. LeBlanc of Baton Rouge, La. LeBlanc will join Capital Financial Group, an independent firm, which affiliated with Raymond James in February of this year. LeBlanc has spent the eight years prior as senior vice president at UBS Financial Services where he provided comprehensive financial planning with a focus on retirement planning. 

San Antonio, Tex.-based Covenant Multifamily Offices has appointed J. Robert Varghese as director of investment strategy and research. Varghese will be responsible for developing overall investment and asset allocation strategy. In addition, he will serve on Covenants' investment committee and due diligence and research team.