Movin On Up
One Metrotech’s name is now a little more apropos: 3-D printer-maker MakerBot is relocating from Boerum Hill to take over the building’s entire 21st floor, confirms the Wall Street Journal. ”We’re going to put the tech in Metrotech, literally,” said Bre Pettis. (Get it?)
As the article points out, downtown Brooklyn is currently being heralded as one point of the borough’s “tech triangle” (the others being Dumbo and the Brooklyn Navy Yard). But that name involves just a tiiiny bit of wishful thinking at the moment. MakerBot, for example, is One Metrotech’s first tech tenant, and it’ll take a while for NYU’s 370 Jay Street tech campus to get up and running. And officials are pretty upfront about the fact that the area lacks a certain something at the moment:
With Dumbo’s star rising, it’s time for the inevitable inter-borough smack-talking to begin. And, as often happens when boosters for Manhattan and Brooklyn go toe-to-toe, things are starting to look a little heated.
Crain’s is just the latest to notice all the fuss across the river. Etsy has long been a neighborhood fixture; digital consulting firm Takeout just relocated; Loosecubes and Docracy are homegrown efforts. Why are startups flocking to a neighborhood with a mere 3 percent commercial vacancy rate? Surely there are roomier (and therefore cheaper) environs. Turns out, Manhattan lacks a certain spark. (Manhattan, are you just going to let them talk about you like that?)
A week after we wondered whether Dumbo has hit maximum capacity–cobblestone streets, now in limited supply!–venture capitalists have arrived to big ups the borough.
Will Porteous, general partner at Manhattan-based RRE Ventures, tells peHUB that Brooklyn may just be the best place to launch, pointing out that eight RRE portfolio companies call Brooklyn home. Err, make that “were.” Drop.io and Hot Potato were acquired (or acqui-hired, depending on who you ask) by Facebook in 2010, but that still leaves HowAboutWe, MakerBot, Pontiflex, and more for serious street cred.
Brooklyn Bridge Ventures founder Charlie O’Donnell, formerly of First Round Capital, does Mr. Porteous one better, wondering if Facebook will even be able to make devs happy from its stodgy Midtown perch. Estimating that “50 percent of people who work at venture-backed startups live in Brooklyn,” Mr. O’Donnell thinks the exodus has already begun.
Silicon Alley U
On his blog this morning, New York City tech stalwart Charlie O’Donnell announced the creation of a new seed investment fund called Brooklyn Bridge Ventures. Mr. O’Donnell, who used to bike the 9.2 miles from his home in Bay Ridge to his last job—principal at First Round Capital in Union Square—says his is the first venture capital fund based in Brooklyn and that the borough “has the potential to be the very best place in the world to start a technology business.”
Business Insider‘s sources say Mr. O’Donnell’s fund will be $10 million. Betabeat has heard somewhere in the range of $10 million to $20 million and that Quotidian Ventures might be his first big LP, although Mr. O’Donnell would not return earlier calls to confirm. We have reached out to Quotidian and will update the post when we hear back.
The Third Degree
As we expected, with RFPs due tomorrow, this week has turned into something of a PR blitzkrieg to win a chance to build on an applied sciences mecca on city-owned land. After all, once the proposals are in, the competing schools are forbidden to speak publicly about their proposals. Until when? we asked Cornell’s PR wrangler Dan Levitan. “Forever!” he said ominously.
Hence yesterday afternoon brought some specs from “StanfordNYC” and NYU’s plan transform the MTA’s former headquarters at 370 Jay St. into a Center for Urban Science and Progress that will “make Brooklyn the urban center of the universe,” as NYU senior vice provost for research Paul Horn told the Daily News.
Dumbo-based startup Headliner.fm was already a few months into its partnership with SoundCloud, the white-hot Berlin-based music storage startup, when Tumblr decided to jump on the SoundCloud love train apparently rolling through New York. But at the SF Music Summit today, Headliner.fm co-founder Mike More announced he was sweetening the deal on his app, currently one of the most popular offerings in SoundCloud’s App Gallery.
For the uninitiated, Headliner.fm is a social media recommendation tool that helps acts like Diddy, Akon, and Maroon 5, all of which have signed up for its service, to connect to new fans with a simple proposition: letting one artist recommend another to its fans on Facebook, Twitter, or MySpace (yeah, yeah, we know, but music was the only thing it was ever good for).