It’s never too early to start speculating about the next election cycle. So we’re calling it, less than a month into the new year: 2013 will be New York tech’s debut as a political force.
Tech moguls and politicians have always been willing bedfellows, of course. Last year, technophiles in Silicon Valley and the Bay Area outpaced “Hollywood celebrities and Wall Street moguls” in funding President Obama’s reelection campaign, according to a report from MapLight.com. On the other side of the aisle–like far, far to the right–Facebook investor Peter Thiel “almost single-handedly” funded Ron Paul’s super PAC. After his fringe candidate dropped out of the race, Mr. Thiel donated $1 million to Club for Growth Action, a Tea Party super PAC.
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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.
“Maliyah, step away from the mouse!” called Ashley Gavin, a software engineer at the MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory and instructor at the Girls Who Code summer program. Maliyah Greene, the recipient of Ms. Gavin’s reprimand, reluctantly tore herself away from Photoshop to come and talk to Betabeat. We were sitting in AppNexus’s Flatiron office, watching her fellow Girls Who Code students work on virtually tagging brick walls with their names. “It’s not as hard as I thought it would be,” Ms. Greene smiled.
She is one of 20 high school girls who gave up summer vacation to learn about app development, robotics, web design and other topics at Girls Who Code, a summer computer-engineering program for girls.
Though this is its first summer in existence, Girls Who Code already boasts executives from Gilt Groupe, Twitter and General Electric on its board and has been working with AppNexus and other New York startups throughout the summer.
Did all the Facebook cofounders promise to make honest women and men out of their partners, just as soon as the company went public? Because guess who graced the New York Times‘ Vows section today: Facebook cofounder and now New Republic publisher and editor-in-chief Chris Hughes and his partner Sean Eldridge.
The Times tells us that the pair were wedded yesterday, Read More
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On its blog today, Twitter announced a new partnership aimed at changing that ratio. The company will be investing “time, energy and money,” to partner with Girls Who Code, a intensive program designed to get New York City high schoolers comfortable with software development.
Girls Who Code was launched by Reshma Saujani, a former deputy public advocate under Bill de Blasio. Ms. Saujani, who is running for Public Advocate in 2013, has strong ties to the tech community both here and in the Valley. Twitter cofounder Jack Dorsey and Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes both came out to support her (ultimately unsuccessful) bid for a Congressional seat from New York in 2010. She also recently married LocalResponse founder Nihal Mehta. (Mazel!)
With Super Tuesday looming, President Obama cut a swath through New York City last night, attending four separate fundraisers, beginning his evening in a Manhattan penthouse. The big ticket events of the night both happened in Union Square, starting with a $35,000-a-plate dinner at ABC Kitchen, run by celebuchef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and then moving onto ABC Carpet & Home showroom, where Aziz Ansari made a special appearance and both The Roots and Ben Folds put on a show for the “young, hip-looking crowd.”
In seven hours, he managed to raise $5 million.
The press has focused on high-profile attendees like Deepak Chopra and Russell Simmons, as well as the turnout from the upper echelons of Wall Street. Indeed, Republicans would probably love to make stumping in front of an $18,000 piece of driftwood this season’s $400 haircut. But under the radar, New York techies also showed up–and paid up!–for the Democratic cause, and the ancillary bonus of getting to watch Questlove bang on some drums.