Jack Dorsey, cofounder of Twitter and Square, recently tried to disabuse the tech industry of its infatuation with the word ‘disruption.’ “We don’t want ‘disruption,’ where we just move things around. We want a direction. We want a purpose,” he said on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt, humbly suggesting the biannual conference change its name. But it’s more than just semantics. The tech sector’s claim to produce world-changing products and services often gets drowned out in a chorus of me-too companies solving problems no one ever complained about. The umpteenth nightlife-recommendations tool or empty real-time dating app can obscure the whirr of a nascent robotics sector in Manhattan or a futuristic, even revolutionary, experiment in manufacturing in Queens.
Silicon Alley U
The Entrepreneurial Egghead
Of all Mike Bloomberg’s many initiatives to turn New York into the Silicon Valley of the 21st century, one stands out as the centerpiece of his master plan: the applied sciences campus. After a battle royale with other schools including Stanford, Cornell emerged the winner with its proposal to build a Roosevelt Island satellite. Now, with classes scheduled to start in January, the city’s techies are left watching and waiting for graduates to fill all their open jobs.
Cornell insists its campus is designed to boost New York’s tech sector, and the school’s choice of open-source advocate Deborah Estrin as its first academic faculty member shows that’s more than mere talk.
Earlier this week, Betabeat had the privilege of speaking with Deborah Estrin, the first academic faculty member announced for Cornell and Technion’s $2 billion tech campus. (Coming soon-ish to an island near you!) For an institution concerned with spinning out an army of startups based on the latest technological developments, it’s hard to think of a more fitting hire.
Most recently, Ms. Estrin worked as a professor at UCLA, where she founded the Center for Embedded Networked Sensing. She also heads East with a number of accolades, including being named one of the “Brilliant 10” in Popular Science‘s list of elite researchers. This year, Wired included her on a list of “50 People Who Will Change the World” and CNN called her of the “10 Most Powerful Women in Tech.” That last distinction Ms. Estrin shares with her sister, serial entrepreneur Judy Estrin.
Must be something in the genes: Their mother, Dr. Thelma Estrin, is a pioneer in the field of biomedical engineering.