FORTUNE -- Unlike those tech workers over in Silicon Valley who live in a Google-bussing, Glass-wearing, Playa-sharing comfort bubble of soft landings and superhero universities, New York startups are toughing it out in the real world. Or so the trope has gone.
New York, a distant No. 2 to Silicon Valley, has "grit and grime"; it's "real and raw," according to a PandoDaily piece by Josh Miller, founder of Branch (a link-sharing service that Facebook acquired in January). Taking things a step further, Miller noted that being a startup founder in San Francisco "feels like being a banker in New York." In other words, in the Valley it's easier to work in tech -- there, you're the top dog.
Miller's not the only one with this view. New York techies love to tout the fact that New York isn't an "industry town" as a major reason for building a company here. Dennis Crowley, CEO of Foursquare, has said he likes the fact that he's not surrounded by other techies in New York. And on Quora, a question-and-answer website, techies gush over such things as the ability to target products at people who "do not live/eat/breathe tech."
But the image of tech workers as the outcasts and underdogs of New York's hierarchy is starting to shift. Deals for companies such as Tumblr, Buddy Media, Makerbot, and Shutterstock are turning employees into millionaires, and early investors into stars. Hot commerce startups such as Warby Parker and Birchbox are enviable places to work. Well-funded media startups such as Refinery29, Vox Media, Complex Media, and BuzzFeed are snapping up all the writing talent that big media cut loose during the recession. And quintessential Brooklyn companies such as Kickstarter and Etsy have blended startup culture with indie culture in a way that no Valley company can replicate. Spotify is planning to IPO. Yahoo is even buying up all our failures.
In short, tech is no longer the underdog in New York. It's quickly becoming the top dog, and the numbers back that up. A new study released this week by Citi, Google, and the NY Tech Meetup Association for a Better New York shows the city's high-tech ecosystem is made up of 291,000 jobs that are enabled by, produce, or facilitate technology, and generate $50 billion in total annual compensation. Tech accounts for 7% of New York's workforce, placing it just behind retail, which comprises 8% of the workforce. The study also shows New York's tech sector added 45,000 jobs over the last decade, growing by 18%.
New York tech is spreading its wings. Maybe we don't even need a cheerleader mayor any more. Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration has said the city needs "a deliberate shift in policy" from Bloomberg's very active tech-sector development projects. Here's Alicia Glen, the Mayor's deputy for housing and economic development, via the Daily News:
Our focus is on really nurturing and growing our own workforce," she said. "That wasn't the focus of the prior administration. It doesn't mean they were bad people ... it just means we want to really be able to make our connection between our overall growth and prosperity and making sure regular new Yorkers have a chance to participate in that.
As New York's tech ecosystem comes into its own, many important question marks remain. For one, Tumblr's sale wasn't necessarily a big success for the ecosystem. And the jury is still out on Foursquare, New York tech's poster child. The long-promised Gilt IPO is still just that. And other big tech leaders are grappling with valuation questions. Fab, for example, hit a major stumbling block last year.
New York has a long way to go to before it matches the Valley's dominance of tech innovation. But the numbers show that, unlike prior go-arounds, the city's tech ecosystem might be strong enough to sustain a few blows. In the aftermath of the dotcom bubble, most techies retreated to the advertising, fashion, and finance industries. Now growth looks sustainable and permanent. And that whole "underdog" thing is starting to sound dated.
"Scary future" doesn't exactly jibe with "brands, brands, brands"
FORTUNE -- Every year, the South by Southwest Interactive festival comes along, and every year, like clockwork, someone must self-righteously bemoan how the festival is so over. SXSW has jumped the shark; it's too big, too noisy, no longer relevant, the worst event in the history of humankind. It never fails, every year.
If you're a startup u should be building products, talking MOREErin Griffith - Mar 12, 2014 11:11 AM ET
The 20-year-old festival is constantly evolving.
FORTUNE -- In conversations with friends leading up to the SXSW Interactive, the standard response to the topic has been somewhere between pity that I'm going and disdain that they too have to attend.
Many lead-up stories to the event have reflected that tone. Business Insider declared, "Everything you've come to know and love about SXSW has died." Digiday wrote, "This will be the last SXSW MOREErin Griffith - Mar 7, 2014 1:04 PM ET
The media wanted a Yahoo-Foursquare deal more than the companies did.
FORTUNE -- Over the weekend, Yahoo (YHOO) announced a data partnership with restaurant reviews site Yelp (YELP). The partnership "will incorporate Yelp's listings and reviews of local businesses into results on Yahoo's search engine," according to the Wall Street Journal.
The surprising part of this announcement is not that Yahoo partnered with Yelp; it's who Yahoo did not partner with: Foursquare. Speculation about a Foursquare MOREErin Griffith - Feb 10, 2014 5:38 PM ET
Also: Inside the mind of Hulu's interim CEO; Did Mailbox cost Dropbox $100 million?
Foursquare aims at a moving target as it tries to close another round of funding [TECHCRUNCH]
One part of the problem appears to be that check-ins, the cornerstone of Foursquare's early growth and its traditionally main source of data points, are no longer what they used to be. A year ago CEO Dennis Crowley said Foursquare was noticing more people MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Mar 18, 2013 3:00 AM ET
Also: Why HP should have listened to its CFO; is Foursquare overvalued?
HP should have listened to its CFO [FORTUNE]
As Fortune wrote in its May cover story How Hewlett-Packard lost its way:
"...with no warning to Apotheker, Lesjak made an impassioned case against the acquisition before the board. "I can't support it," she told the directors, according to a person who was present. "I don't think it's a good idea. I don't think we're ready. I think it's MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Nov 21, 2012 5:30 AM ET
The secret to populating an unpopular smartphone platform: cash incentives
A nice piece of reporting by Jenna Wortham and Nick Wingfield landed on the front page of the New York Times Business section Friday morning, two days before the launch of the Nokia Lumia 900.
When free phones and promises of prime real estate on the Windows Phone app store wasn't enough to get reluctant developers to write software for the new MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 6, 2012 7:41 AM ET
Fortune's curated selection of tech stories from the weekend. Sign up to get the round-up delivered to you each and every day.
* In a first for Apple (AAPL), the Cupertino-based tech giant published the results of a study reporting that it had "created or supported" 514,000 American jobs. Abroad, Apple says it has created almost 700,000 jobs. (Apple via The New York Times)
* Shares of Yelp, the local business reviews site, climbed 64% Friday MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Mar 5, 2012 3:30 AM ET
Fortune's curated selection of newsworthy tech stories from the weekend. Sign up to get the round-up delivered to you every day.
* Google (GOOG) chairman Eric Schmidt told the U.S. Senate antitrust committee that the iPhone 4S's voice assistant, Siri, poses a "competitive threat" to his company's business. Confessed Schmidt: "Apple's Siri is a significant development -- a voice-activated means of accessing answers through iPhones that demonstrates the innovations in search." (Apple MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Nov 7, 2011 3:30 AM ET
Cloud computing is clearly here to stay. But these factors could make the transition a bumpy one.
FORTUNE -- Earlier this week, portions of Amazon's cloud computing service crashed, impairing Foursquare, Netflix and Instagram as well as millions of users. While service was quickly restored, it marked the second major incident of its kind in the last six months -- and that is raising concerns with some.
Putting parts or all of MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Aug 12, 2011 1:02 PM ET
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