On the Town
Last night at Gracie Mansion (or out in the yard, to be more specific), Mayor Bloomberg looked about as relaxed as this reporter has ever seen him. The occasion was We are Made in NY, billed as “a celebration of New York City’s tech community.” He laughed, he cracked wise, at one point he propped an elbow on the stage’s railing and leaned like a Guys and Dolls extra.
Guess a mere 92 days left on the clock will chill a guy out–not to mention this audience of techies was about as friendly a crowd as he’ll find these days.
Hacking the Hurricane
2012 was quite a year for the New York tech community. Several NYC startups scored monster exits, while others raised millions to up their chances of scoring a ping pong table for the office. Whether or not that hotly debated bubble bursts, we imagine 2013 will be another exciting year for NYC’s tech set. Here are some New Year’s resolutions from some of the NYC tech community’s boldest names.
XX in Tech
Late last week, Betabeat took a two-hour trip via interborough bus to Secret Clubhouse, a newly launched Williamsburg coworking spot. The shared office (decorated with vintage Apples and a motley assortment of posters) was packed with techies typing away on the laptops, but the vibe was no more panicked than that of an undergraduate library in the earliest days of reading period.
Nearby, permanent residents Small Girls PR were hashing out wardrobing details for the upcoming “Tech Homecoming” fundraiser and upending their desks in search of a missing checkbook. The occasional burst of laughter filtered from the back, and every so often someone would look up with a piece of news gleaned from Twitter. But quiet largely reigned.
The only obvious sign of extraordinary circumstances was a sign on the wall, handwritten grade-school-binder style: “Sandy Shelter,” it said, with a Wifi login and the message of support, “we <3 u.”
Exit Through the GIF Shop
There are precious few tech events for which Betabeat would agree to wear high heels. But if there was ever a worthy cause, it’s Girls Who Code. Thus between subway transfers, we swapped out our beat-up boots for patent leather and teetered our way around the cobblestone patches outside the New York Stock Exchange for the organization’s startup-studded gala.
The cause for celebration was two-fold. The first was showing off demos from its inaugural class of 20 girls, who represented all five boroughs and some disarmingly ambitious ideas. (We’re still scratching our head at Cora Frederick‘s plan to use data mining and machine learning to classify tumors.) The second was to announce an audacious new goal: to train one million girls in computer science by 2020, starting with a national expansion outside New York City next year.
The nonprofit organization, founded by former deputy public advocate Reshma Saujani and run by former Jumo managing director Kristen Titus, offers teenage girls an eight-week, full-time education in robotics, web design, and mobile development, with mentorship from engineers and executives at Twitter, Google, ZocDoc, Gilt Groupe, and more. In fact, Ms. Saujani noted last night, CEO Dick Costolo volunteered Twitter’s first philanthropic donation to Girls Who Code, although she politely declined to specify the dollar amount.
Meet Your Maker
Monday night, Betabeat headed downtown for a new twist on presidential debate punditry. Rather than merely wisecracking, drinking or even live-blogging, Internet types assembled for something new this election cycle: a “live GIF off” of the proceedings, arranged by Tumblr and Livestream.
Our destination was 111 8th Avenue, most famously Google’s New York HQ but also the home to Livestream, our hosts for the evening. Normally an office, the space had been transformed into a multimedia hub, with screens scattered throughout, streaming feeds from both the debate and (so meta) the event itself.
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.”