Meet Your Maker
This morning, Betabeat ventured forth to the industrial environs of Long Island City for a ribbon-cutting at what’s being billed as the “factory of the future.”
Naturally, quite a few tech scene regulars were in attendance, like New York City Economic Development Corporation president Seth Pinsky. But, by and large, it was mayor Michael Bloomberg’s show–that, and of course Shapeways, the company that’ll soon be 3D printing user-generated designs right were we were standing.
“There are plenty of good reasons we want New York City to be the epicenter of the industry, something, folks, that the factory and the research lab here at Shapeways will help make possible,” he told us, before adding, for anyone missing the point: ”This is the future of our city.”
Earlier today, Betabeat ventured downtown for a tech-world double whammy: Not just Mayor Michael Bloomberg, but also Google chairman Eric Schmidt were scheduled to speak. The pair were stopping by the joint headquarters of Boxee and Sidetour for a quick check-up on the state of New York tech.
After a barrage of stats illustrating New York’s rise to tech superstardom–for example, between 2007 and 2010, the number of employees at New York City digital media companies has grown 74 percent–Mayor Bloomberg segued into the news, such as it was.
On the heels of a nighttime cab ride testing Square technology with CEO Jack Dorsey, he’d just come from a morning meeting where he’d convened leaders–from Valley heavy hitters like Twitter CEO Dick Costolo to Alley stalwarts like Union Square Ventures ringleader Fred Wilson–for a roundtable dubbed “Keeping the Edge,” focused on the areas of infrastructure, education, and innovation.
Fashion Turn to the Left
Back in June, we drew your attention to Project Pop-Up NYC, a city-backed contest for fashion and fashion-tech companies looking to prove their innovative bona fides. Well, the ballots are in and today the winners were announced in a press conference that must’ve taken quite a while, because there were a lot of winners.
A whopping eleven startups were honored including AHAlife, Of a Kind, and Shoptiques, and every one will get a spot at Chelsea-based pop-up specialist STORY for the month of September. With all those winners you’d be forgiven for wondering whether everyone got a trophy, but Crains reports that more than 130 companies applied. Clearly the fashionistas have been busy bees.
Today Time Warner Cable announced that the company expects to invest $25 million to expand its fiber optic network in both “established and emerging” business sectors around New York City. Many of the areas highlighted in today’s announcement happen to coincide with burgeoning tech hubs.
In a press release to Betabeat, Time Warner said it would extend its broadband capabilities in “the World Trade Center, the Flatiron District, all areas of Midtown and throughout the Financial District,” in Manhattan. In addition to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Time Warner is also upgrading fiber in the “Brooklyn Tech Triangle, the Brooklyn Army Terminal and Industry City.” Long Island City in Queens, the future home to Shapeways 3D-printing factory, will also benefit from the effort.
Teach Me How to Startup
Bright and early this morning, we hopped aboard an F train and ventured not into Midtown, home of Betabeat, but rather deeper into Queens. Our destination: The Queens Business Solutions Center, an unassuming government building located on Jamaica Avenue and surrounded by bargain stores. Waiting, freshly printed, on every single seat: An updated copy of the city’s digital roadmap, dated August 2012.
Mayor Bloomberg had shlepped out to discuss his plan to bring small businesses into the Internet Age. The means: the Small Business Toolkit, a program incorporating both in-person classes at business solutions centers across the five boroughs, and a new online library of how-to guides developed in cooperation with local tech companies Mashable, Tumblr, Google and Weebly to help neighborhood entrepreneurs figure out this whole Internet thing.
While startups in the Union Square vicinity focus on disruption, few have been addressing the many neighborhood business that aren’t even online, and don’t know how to get there. Perhaps the administration got the memo about that bodega tech gap?
On Mayor Bloomberg’s weekly radio address last month, he asked his cohost a pointed question, “How do you govern when there’s an instant referendum on everything, before you get a chance to build a constituency, before you get a chance to do a pilot?” It’s a refrain we’ve heard from El Bloombito before. In March, he made similar remarks, telling a crowd in Singapore, “Social media is going to make it even more difficult to make long-term investments,” in cities.
It’s a remarkably abrasive attitude from a mayor who has made sprucing up the city’s social media presence a priority during his last term, not to mention his gleeful bid to become Silicon Alley’s primary benefactor. As it turns out, however, the Mayor wasn’t always so disdainful about the wisdom of the crowd or the democratizing wave of the information age.
It appears New York’s tech scene will finally have its own calling card–a glossy, cinematic affair shot by Annie Leibovitz. The celebrated photographer cordoned off the cobblestone streets of Soho yesterday to direct a photo shoot for an upcoming issue of Vanity Fair.
Let Silicon Valley have its tacky tiger-monkeyblowouts, we’ll take the Conde Nast’s version of Social Register, thank you very much.
It’s hard to crown yourself innovation capital of the world without the physical infrastructure to support it. With that in mind, Mayor Bloomberg and City Council speaker Christine Quinn announced a number of new initiatives this morning, aimed at improving the city’s broadband connectivity for the 21st century.
In a press release, the city said the efforts are “designed to capitalize on the growth” of the tech sector. With the success of the applied sciences campus competition, it looks like the city will be relying on that model when it comes to broadband as well.
Alley vs. Valley
Greentech is so firmly associated with the West Coast, we’re not even going to bother with the jokes about hippies and solar panels. But if Mayor Michael Bloomberg has anything to say about it, that’s not going to stay the case. Today the mayor presided over the opening of energy-efficiency software company Efficiency 2.0’s snazzy new Flatiron offices (in the same building as Tumblr, no less), where he made it clear that New York City’s tech scene will not be ignoring the cleantech market, thank you very much.
Silicon Alley U
For months, Mayor Bloomberg has dangled the possibility of picking two winners for the city’s tech campus competition. He even left the possibility open while announcing that the New York City Economic Development Corporation would give the full $100 million grant to Cornell-Technion to build an applied sciences campus on Roosevelt Island. Now Crain’s is reporting that between the remaining contestants, NYU’s Downtown Brooklyn proposal may have “taken center stage” over Carnegie Mellon’s Navy Yard campus and Columbia’s Manhattanville proposal.
Hey, if the Fulton St. Mall can have its own Shake Shack, why shouldn’t the M.T.A’s derelict former headquarters on nearby 370 Jay St. be transformed into a Center for Urban Science and Progress?
Although Crain’s says NYU, the M.T.A., and E.D.C. all want to make a deal to help revitalize Downtown Brooklyn, “but money is the sticking point.”