Mayor Bloomberg Makes His First Trip to NY Tech Meetup, Announces New Tech Council

mayor bloomberg ny tech meetup e1318390649357 Mayor Bloomberg Makes His First Trip to NY Tech Meetup, Announces New Tech Council

Mayor Bloomberg at NY Tech Meetup

Master of ceremonies Nate Westheimer cut the demos short last night to introduce NY Tech Meetup to a surprise guest, a  former Wall Street worker who had seen the light and invested his life savings into a tech startup instead.

“Hello innovators, entrepreneurs, or as I call you, my peeps,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who likes to break the ice with a little slang for the youths. “Thirty years ago I would have been sitting out there with you. I was unemployed, I had a lot of passion, but no business.”

Mayor Bloomberg paused to savor how his move to tech had resulted in a bit of sweet revenge. “I was fired from Wall Street by a seven man committee. Six of them are now using Bloomberg. The ring leader died, but I believe an employee now owns his house.”

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Okay, enough with the basking in power; back to the scrappy startup stories. “It took us three years from starting Bloomberg to signing our first real customer. The day it happened I sat down and wrote on the back of an envelope. I multiplied our monthly fee by 12, times 20 for selling 20 terminals, minus our expenses, and there it was, we we breaking even.”

A murmur of happy recognition swept through the crowd. “The first year is easy, you know it’s right in your heart,” continued Mr. Bloomberg. “The last year is easy, you can see the light at end of tunnel. But that middle year, when you keep putting your own money in to cover payroll, can really make you doubt yourself.”

Time for a quick history lesson, kids! “There was no PC when we started building our terminal in a barn. When the PC came along I knew we couldn’t compete, so we switched to that system.”

“I know you think there was no day before the internet, but when we started we would rent a 9,600 baud telephone line, that was very fast. Then high speed internet came along and I said, ‘We have to switch to this.’”

The larger point, said Mayor Bloomberg, is not to get caught up in the details of your business. “This is what Steve Jobs meant when he said ‘You want to listen to your customers, but not too much.’ It’s not the the hardware, not the tech, it’s what do you do for your customers.”

We could listen to Bloombito talk all night, but there are demos to be done, so let’s cut to the chase. “I am not here to pitch you the Bloomberg terminal, although if you have $20,000 a month lying around, I will take it. I want to pitch you New York City, which is near and dear to my heart. Tech will define the 21st century and this crowd has the power to make New York our nation’s tech capital.”

To help with this, the mayor announced two big new initiatives. The first is a Mayor’s Council on Tech, a ten person panel that will help guide the city in identifying the best new opportunities to grow local innovation. It’s a strong list:

John Borthwick, betaworks, Founder & CEO
Marc Cenedella, TheLadders, Founder & CEO
Perry Chen, Kickstarter, Founder & CEO
Susan Crawford, Cardozo School of Law, Professor, former Special Assistant to President Obama for Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy
Ntiedo Etuk, DimensionU, Co-Founder & CEO
Jonah Goodhart, Moat, Founder & co-CEO
Mitch Jacobs, On Deck Capital, Founder & CEO
Susan Lyne, Gilt Groupe, Chairman
Hilary Mason, bit.ly, Chief Scientist
Barry Silbert, SecondMarket, Founder & CEO
David Tisch, TechStars NYC, Managing Director

The second half of the Mayor’s new agenda was immigration. “When you go outside two out of five people in New York City are born outside the U.S. But the real key is not the number, it’s living as a mixture, not a mosaic. Because people here work together, melding our food, language and philosophy.”

Companies like Google and Yahoo were founded by immigrants, noted the mayor. “I have been down to Washington to try and convince them that shutting our doors is committing national suicide.” The city is now partnering with the law firm Fragomen to give local companies education and advice about international hiring. “The goal is to make sure New York startups have access to the best talent.”

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