Silicon Alley U

Does Mayor Bloomberg Hold All the Power When It Comes to Deciding Who Will Build the Tech Campus?


Throughout the drawn-out process to build an engineering mecca to rival Silicon Valley on city-owned land, the NYC Economic Development Corporation has maintained that there was no front-runner. The reason for that, EDC president Seth Pinsky has said repeatedly, is because the committee of government officials, city elders, and entrepreneurs have yet to see the proposals.

It didn’t matter that the Mayor seemed to have a sweet spot for Stanford, because it all depends, said Mr. Pinsky, on what the schools submit to the requests for proposals (RFP).

In the New York Times today, however, the paper reports that, “the decision as to who gets to build what, and where, will ultimately rest with one man“: Mayor Bloomberg. At the half-way marker of his third term which has been marred by cutbacks and managerial missteps, the campus is a potential crown jewel for his legacy. It’s not mere conjecture, even deputy mayor Howard Wolfson tells the Times, “This is going to be a mayoral call, because this is something that is incredibly important to him.”

Betabeat talked to a source familiar with the selection process for clarification. Read More

Silicon Alley U

The Political Operative Managing Stanford’s Bid for Tech Campus Also Ran Mayor Bloomberg’s Last Election [UPDATED]


Almost immediately after hitting publish on a round-up of the latest hubbub over plans to build an engineering campus in New York,  Betabeat got an intriguing tip from an interested party. Apparently Cornell isn’t the only school tapping power players to help their campaign.

“About two weeks ago Stanford hired City Hall ‘fixer’ Bradley Tusk and his consulting firm Tusk Strategies to seal the deal on this Tech Campus bid,” wrote the source. We confirmed the tip with Tusk Strategies, but we needn’t have. The Stanford Daily actually reported the hire in a small item in late September, along with the news that the school had also signed up Edelman, the global public relations firm that also represents Wal-Mart.

Mr. Tusk, the man The Observer called Bloomberg’s “secret weapon,” back in 2010, engineered the mayor’s third term reelection in 2009. Coincidentally, Mr. Tusk was also hired by Wal-Mart earlier this year to the lead the corporation’s push into New York. The New York Times reported that Mr. Tusk, “is still close to the mayor, a strong supporter of Wal-Mart’s campaign.” Read More

Silicon Alley U

Cornell Keeps Gunning for That Tech Campus. But NYU, Columbia, Carnegie Mellon and Stanford Unveil Surprise Plans


With less than three weeks left until proposals are due to build a Stanford-like engineering mecca on the isle of Manhattan, no one is taking any chances. Rumor may have it that Stanford proper is a lock for the contract. But as Betabeat has reported, a source familiar with the decision-making process says it’s pretty much about the RFP. (Even Mayor Bloomberg’s imprimatur is merely  a “small to medium plus,” said the source.)

Cornell’s PR firm and power lobbyist, hired to help manage the school’s campaign, seem convinced that a little community spirit can’t hurt. This Saturday, October 15th, Cornell will be the only academic sponsor for Next Jump’s Silicon Alley 500 recruiting event on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, matching engineers and engineering students with hot Made in NYC startups like 10gen, Etsy, Boxee, Meetup, SecondMarket, and Tumblr.

Cornell may need the good will. Over the weekend, NYU, Carnegie Mellon, and Columbia all showed a little RFP leg–with proposals that opt for Brooklyn and Manhattanville over Roosevelt Island. And this morning Stanford just announced that it’s partnering with CUNY and City College. Read More

Metro Tech

NYC EDC Presents Winners of Big Ideas, the Big Apps for Norms

O.K., let’s say you are a New Yorker and you want to use technology to improve the city. You heard the city has created over $5 million in software with just $50,000 in prizes through its Big Apps competition. But you don’t actually know much HTML, much less how to actually develop an app (we’re guilty of this too).

Not to fear fine citizens, the city has a contest for you. Big Ideas let New Yorkers submit their ideas for what mobile and desktop apps would most improve NYC. The winner took home $100 in cold cash.

“As expected, the Ideas Challenge has built upon the success of BigApps and demonstrated the tremendous amount of talent and innovative thinking that exists among developers and non-developers here in New York City,” said Seth W. Pinsky, President of the New York City Economic Development Corporation. “This competition has given a voice to New Yorkers with creative ideas on how to improve their city, but who don’t necessarily have the technical capabilities to create an app themselves. These winning ideas will now help shape the future of web, desktop or mobile apps, and, most importantly, will benefit the lives of New Yorkers across the five boroughs. I congratulate all the winners on this terrific achievement.”

And your winners are:  Read More