I just spent a week in NYC. What the city did vis a vis crime reduction between the 80s and 90s it did vis a vis start ups between the 00s and the 10s. It’s a whole new tech scene here. And it’s very new.
I remember when I invested in the first round of Tumblr with John Borthwick the tech scene in NYC was minimal. And that was as recently as 2007. On this trip I visited General Assembly and it was buzzing, and they are not the only nurturing grounds for entrepreneurship, there are many as well as many start ups who are making it big. Also what has happened in the last decade is that now Brooklyn is not a lesser cousin but an integral part of NYC as well and there are a lot of start ups and tech people who live there. It is interesting to see how Brooklyn has made it and NJ has not considering that they are both a river crossing away, but Brooklyn has a history and beauty that is tough to compete with.
Here’s a short and random list of reasons why I believe NYC is making it:
-when you leave work you have a lot to do.
-NYC is more environmental than the life in your car Silicon Valley. The ecofootprint of a New Yorker in his high rise apartment is lower than that one of a SV techie in his house in Palo Alto.
-NYC is way more than tech.
-NYC is half way between SV and Europe and SV is in theory closer to Asia but flying times are the same.
-Bloomberg, who had his own financial internet before the internet really gets it and is promoting NYC as a tech town every week, indeed this week he was at Tumblr promoting his tech friendly policies.
NYC is now a true rival to Silicon Valley and that is great news. Chicago is also happening I hear, thanks to GroupOn, not my favorite start up but still a force. And then there is London with Spotify, Badoo and many others. Overall I think that what happened to USA in the last few decades is happening to Silicon Valley now. SV is still number one but in relative terms shrinking in relevance. NYC, London, Berlin, TelAviv, Tokyo, Shanghai/Beijing/Taipei, Bangalore, all valid alternative places for tech start ups.
I lived in NYC for 18 years, between 1977 and 1995. Now when I visit I realize that I owe a lot to that city, my education, my first successful ventures. Would I move Fon to NYC? Well we decided to open our US office there and not in SV. But for us, the engineering talent we find in Spain would be hard to replicate in NYC. Spain as troubled as it is, is a great place in which to have your start up. With 47% youth unemployment and many talented young people if you have a great project you can get the engineers you need for it. It is true that Spanish work ethics are not as good as the American work ethic, but people are realizing that either they truly work or the country will sink. And the attitude is better now than a few years ago. So while I won’t move back to NYC for now I will go more frequently. There are too many admirable people there!
Correction, after writing this post Daniel Ek contacted me to say that NY has become so attractive for Spotify that now they have more employees in NYC than London. I also forgot to mention that large companies like Google and now Facebook have very sizable offices in NYC.
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