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.
Teach Me How to Startup
The patent wars rage on in the tech world, but today a couple of big names extended olive branches in hopes of brokering a peace–or at least one between the industry and the notion of patents. This morning, leaders from the Commerce Department and Cornell University announced that there’ll be a U.S. Patent Office staffer permanently planted right on campus.
That individual will serve as a kind of liaison between the worlds of tech and intellectual property, working to connect university students and affiliates to whatever resources the Commerce Department has to offer. (Before you private sector devotees scoff, that ranges from IP strategizing to government grants.) It’s all in the service of speeding innovations from academic notion to marketable product.
This is the first time the bureau has ever devoted such attention to a particular university campus. How you like dem apples, Stanford?
Teach Me How to Startup
Yesterday morning, Betabeat popped out of the subway a little further downtown than normal for an Internet Week breakfast panel at Eventi. The four speakers, assembled to discuss the city’s role as a leader in the new tech economy included Seth Pinsky, president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, Rachel Sterne, the city’s chief digital officer, Daniel Huttenlocher, dean of Cornell NYC Tech, and Craig Gotsman, director of the Cornell-Technion Innovation Institute.
Considering our profile of Mr. Pinsky and multiple features about the battle between Stanford and Cornell to win a chance to build on Roosevelt Island, it was not unlike seeing the pages of Betabeat on stage–only with free pastries and a lot more suits.
Made in NYC
It was sticky and rainy outside, but scores of people showed up to see Mayor Bloomberg shake his tech pom-poms today at Internet Week HQ. The Mayor trudged to 82 Mercer to announce a new initiative alongside chief digital officer Rachel Sterne, NYCEDC president Seth Pinsky and–surprisingly–Josh Miller, the cofounder of Branch.
So what exactly did Mr. Mayor have up his sleeve? Turns out it was a new interactive map that displays the locations of tech companies around New York City. A sidebar also displays which of these companies are currently hiring.
Silicon Alley U
UPDATE: Read our liveblog of the Mayor’s press conference about the NYU’s new Brooklyn campus here.
Well that was well-timed! Hours after The New Yorker posted a profile of Stanford that tore at old wounds about the innovation engine’s decision to drop out of building an engineering campus in NYC–blame sour grapes or Seth Pinsky, depending on who you ask–the city is finally ready to make an announcement about a secondary initiative.
According to Mayor Bloomberg’s schedule, it looks like the second-place winner is a bid from NYU and the Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly). In its initial proposal, NYU wanted to transform the derelict former MTA headquarters at 370 Jay Street into a Center for Urban Science and Progress. At 1pm this afternoon, the Mayor will be joining NYU President John Sexton to announce a partnership to create a new “applied sciences center in Downtown Brooklyn.”
Silicon Alley U
In this week’s issue of The New Yorker, the illustrious Ken Auletta, who recently profiled Sheryl Sandberg’s attempts to “upend Silicon Valley’s male-dominated culture,” looks at the Bay Area from a different perspective. This time, he analyzes how Stanford became “the farm system for Silicon Valley,” and whether the “gold-rush mentality” among both Stanford’s students and faculty is good for the university.
Tucked inside the story are also a number of details about why Stanford, which was widely considered a frontrunner to open a its first-ever second campus on Roosevelt Island, abruptly dropped its bid at the last minute.
ICANN AND SO CAN YOU!
If the “Made in NYC” label wasn’t enough to cement your status as an integral part of the burgeoning local tech community, perhaps a .NYC domain name might pique your interest. Luckily for enterprising young founders hankering to swap .ly or .co for a cooler extension, the New York Times reports today that the city is seeking a contract with a Virginia-based company that could bring us closer to finally landing .NYC’s.
On its Tumblr, the New York City Economic Development Corporation posted an announcement this afternoon about the 28 individuals named to the city’s NYC Venture Fellows Program. The press release was actually issued last Tuesday, the NYCEDC confirmed by phone, but was only just added to Tumblr. C’mon, guys, until they plant that RSS chip in our brains, you gotta get with El Bloombito’s new social media agenda: everything updated all a’ the time.
This is the second year of the Venture Fellows program, developed with the agency along with Fordham University. “NYC Venture Fellows promotes emerging business leaders and encourages international entrepreneurs to start or expand their operations in New York City. The program connects fellows with mentors who are investors, serial entrepreneurs, CEOS, and operational managers from New York City and abroad.”
Combine that description with the word “fellows” and you might picture some accelerator-stage startups in real need of mentorship and connections, not far off the the lean Ramen life. Not so with the 28 rising stars on this year’s list, which includes BillGuard founder and CEO Yaron Samid, MakerBot cofounder and CEO Bre Pettis, Warby Parker cofounder and co-CEO Dave Gilboa, and charity: water founder and CEO Scott Harrison.
Silicon Alley U
On Monday, the lobby of the Weill Cornell Medical College, which resides on a particularly gray stretch of the Upper East Side, was crawling with men and women in wooly blazers dotted with “carnelian” buttons—the technical name for the maroon hue that invariably moves Cornell students to chant some version of “Go Big Red!”
Inside the auditorium, as an assembly of press, pols, and local technorati waited for Mayor Bloomberg to appear, a giant projector flashed a mosaic of the Cornell University logo.
The news had been leaked to every major news outlet by midnight on Sunday; there was no point in being coy.
When Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg told a crowd of reporters last week that Facebook would be opening its first engineering office outside Palo Alto right here in New York, it sounded like the Bloomberg administration’s dream come true. Could the West Coast tech giants finally be taking New York seriously as an innovation center, rather than just a convenient base to sidle up to advertisers?
Indeed, earlier this year, the Economic Development Corporation said its goal in accepting bids to build an applied sciences campus in New York was to “increase the probability that the next high growth company—a Google, Amazon, or Facebook—will emerge in New York City and not in Shanghai, Mumbai, or Sao Paolo.” An engineering office from a company on the verge of what might be the biggest IPO in history sounds like the next best thing. What’s more, Facebook seemed so confident about luring technical talent (typically a sore spot with New York techies) that they weren’t waiting for the campus to break ground.
Facebook’s decision was so glaringly aligned with the city’s goal of diversifying into an innovation capital that it was hard not to wonder if New York had tried to sweeten the deal.