Silicon Alley U
Alley vs. Valley
It was merely mid-morning when Betabeat arrived at enterprise-focused accelerator Tipping Point Parters for a presser, and already everyone in attendance seemed to be wilting. The exception: City Council Speaker (and, let us not forget, mayoral candidate) Christine Quinn, who looked downright jovial. Perhaps she was just that excited about her coming announcement.
Or perhaps she was simply thrilled to be wearing what looked like seersucker, while the rest of us suffered in the heat.
We were gathered into a rather claustrophobic–but very well air-conditioned–startup space, complete with white lighting fixtures and random whiteboard. The occasion: The creation of two new programs meant to feed engineers and other much-needed tech talent into the city’s startup sector.
The latest CB Insights report on venture capital investment just dropped, and we’ve spent the morning digging into the data. Local entrepreneurs might want to sit down, because this is gonna sting a little.
Overall the quarter was a big one, with 812 deals adding up to $8.1 billion. The report points out that’s the biggest single quarter since the dot com days. (And what with Digg and Yahoo dominating the headlines, you’d be forgiven for getting a little confused on the year.) Seed stage investments made up 22 percent of those deals, which fits with our anecdotal sense that startups are springing up like mushrooms after a rainstorm.
In terms of deal volume, New York held onto the number-two spot for the second quarter in a row. A big part of that is digital: The report calls California and New York a “two-headed monster on the internet front,” and points out that “larger funding deals enable Florida and Washington to challenge Massachusetts for the #3 spot.”
Pop quiz: In which of America’s central business districts will you have the hardest time finding an office? Answer, according to a report from Bloomberg News, based on data from Cushman & Wakefield: The area between 30th St. and Union Square, a.k.a. Midtown south, a.k.a. Silicon Alley. Color us utterly unsurprised.
The article informs us:
The area known as midtown south has replaced Midtown as the most desirable location for companies to lease space, the brokerage said. Midtown south… has the lowest vacancy rate of all central business districts in the nation, at 6.1 percent, according to Cushman & Wakefield.
We also feel like it’s worth floating the possibility that proximity to the original Shake Shack might be a consideration.
Meanwhile, in Q2, rents for Midtown proper were down for the first time in two years. Yeah, no wonder: Have you tried finding a Starbucks without a twenty-minute-long line of tourists around here lately? Good luck.
Okay, we knew tech recruiting in New York City was bad, but we didn’t realize it had gotten embarrassing. Earlier today, “hybrid designer and technologist” Mike Bodge offered up a first-hand account of the wooing techniques of Silicon Alley venture capitalists on his tumblr.
Be warned, it involves a Segway, and what might soon become a catchphrase worthy of its own meme. In fact, it’s so deliciously sad, we wonder if we’re being punked. Let’s consider the evidence, shall we?
P.C. - U
As North Carolina tries to foster its own budding startup scene (something a little more modern than Research Triangle Park, perhaps?) the folks MBA@UNC, UNC’s online MBA program, created an inspirational infographic of sorts. To that end, they’ve mapped out the last five years of growth in tech/social media space, comparing us to the Valley.
“Although cities like Chicago, Austin, and even our own Research Triangle have produced a number of web-based businesses in recent years, New York’s startup scene is growing exponentially,” the MBA@UNC staff writes.
The offices of Zelnick Media were packed on a recent evening for #DigitalWes, an alumni gathering for the graduates of Wesleyan University who had made their way from jam bands and cultural theory to the warp-speed world of Silicon Alley. Guests nibbled shrimp and steak skewers while taking in a sumptuous view of midtown Manhattan from the roof deck. The hosts were Strauss Zelnick and his partner, Jim Friedlich, both class of ’79, whose Take Two Interactive has produced some of the best-selling and most controversial video games of the past decade.
“It’s the kind of school, if you told people you wanted to end up at Goldman Sachs, they would probably chase you out of the dorm,” said John Borthwick, class of ’87, a double major in developmental economics and art history and co-founder of the Chelsea-based betaworks. “Radical transparency, open access to information, disrupting traditional media, these were the secret handshakes at Wesleyan.”
On The Calendar
You got to hand it to these real estate reporters. For the last two decades they’ve been discovering a budding tech scene in the real estate around Union Square. Call it Silicon Alley if you like, but this start-up hamlet never seems to get old.
“The emergence of Union Square as a destination for technology firms got its start several years ago. But the neighborhood’s tech community received a boost this year with the arrival of household names such as computer giant Apple Inc. and the impending arrival of user-review site Yelp,” reports the Wall Street Journal.
Are you kidding me? Apple and Yelp are about the least important pieces of the tech scene around Union Square that you could think of, despite being national names. Hysterically, the map of the tech scene which accompanies the story, entitled “Silicon Square,” can’t seem to find a single tech spaces integral to the area, like Dogpatch, Pivotal or General Assembly.
White Collar Capital
This is a guest post from Gary Sharma (a.k.a. “The Guy with the Red Tie”), founder of GarysGuide and mentor at ER Accelerator.
So it’s my birthday this Friday, August 5, and rumor has it that there may or may not be a wild party at a top secret undisclosed location somewhere around town! But onto this week’s entertainment…
The big bucks available for brainy folks willing to work on Wall Street is depleting the talent pool for startups according to a new report from the Kaufman Foundation authored by Paul Kedrosky and Dane Stangler.
The study focuses on the rate at which STEM graduates (Science, Engineer and Math) have moved Read More
There were a few stories this morning about the news that Accel Partners, one of the top three venture capital firms in the nation, is opening an outpost in New York.
But by and large there wasn’t much comment from local VCs on the issue, until Lerer Ventures’ Jordan Cooper raised the issue on Twitter: Read More