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.
The five-year-old startup is taking the slow, steady approach to growth.
FORTUNE -- Thanks to its high-profile founders and eye-popping $71 million in venture backing, Q&A site Quora has been a subject of fascination. After it was launched by early Facebook (FB) employees Charlie Cheever and Adam D'Angelo in 2010, the company's every move was featured in just about every tech trade publication. That year, Quora was named Best New Startup MOREErin Griffith - Mar 20, 2014 10:35 AM ET
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In two different forums, discussions about what to do about Apple's (AAPL) growing cash problem have come around to seeing things the way Steve Jobs and Tim Cook do.
Apple's problem, as Wall Street sees it, is not that the company has too little cash but too much -- $65.8 billion in liquid assets at the MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Jul 5, 2011 7:58 AM ET
As the Q&A website's top designer, Rebekah Cox has found a way to make sharing information addictive.
FORTUNE -- Quora, the hot social question-and-answer website, wants to suck all the useful information from your brain. (That isn't as malevolent as it sounds.) And it is Rebekah Cox's job to make you an enthusiastic participant in the company's grand scheme.
As Quora's product design manager, Cox is the whiz behind the site's intuitive MOREJessi Hempel, writer - Jun 27, 2011 5:00 AM ET
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Amazon's EC2 cloud service crashed and continues to be problematic for some companies and services that rely on it. Affected businesses included Foursquare, Quora, HootSuite, SCVNGR, and Reddit, the last of which is still in "emergency read-only mode" due to what it's calling a"degradation" with Amazon. Company engineers are still working MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Apr 22, 2011 8:45 AM ET
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Facebook relaunched its Questions feature which looks more like a poll app. But instead of going the Quora route -- asking a question to receive lengthy user answers -- Questions just has users voting or offering up short, pithy answers of MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Mar 25, 2011 5:00 AM ET
The innovative Google Ventures Law services site is getting advice from former top Apple lawyer, Dan Cooperman.
LawPivot is kind of a Quora-ish Q&A site for legal advice for startups and small businesses. Lawyers post profiles and answer questions online in their forums. Business owners can then find legal advice by asking LawPivot legal questions. Those questions are tagged and matched against a database of information gathered from the lawyers on the subject matter.
As MORESeth Weintraub - Mar 7, 2011 1:53 PM ET
A: Too many. So Fortune examined six—testing them out and speaking to their CEOs—to bring you a roundup of how each site works and which one might best deliver the answers Internet surfers seek.
By Daniel Roberts, reporter
Q: Have you noticed the sudden explosion of sites purporting to offer Q&A? Have you taken note of the wild press given to some of them (ahem, Quora), wondered if the attention is deserved, MOREFeb 14, 2011 2:59 PM ET
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