New York’s Technology Future: Is It a Bubble or a Lasting Boom?

2/25/13Follow @jpruth

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content. “You can’t be in those areas without being in New York,” he said. “The whole ad tech business is centered in New York.”

He also offered a few opinions on the rival technology scene in Beantown. “Boston has lost a lot of its luster,” Patricof said. “It’s really more of a biotech type of environment.”

Looking at the overall funding ecosystem, he voiced concerns about the amount of seed capital fueling the rise of startups. That can lead to copycats and me-tooism, which muddles the landscape. He said there is not enough Series A money around for all the companies that have proliferated. “An awful lot of stuff we’re seeing is very imitative of other operations,” he said. “There are just too many of the same thing.”

The efforts by Bloomberg’s administration to nurture the local innovation community might lead to more original technology being created in New York, according to NYCEDC’s Li, but it will take time and a lot more engineers. She talked up the Cornell NYC Tech $2 billion project underway to establish an applied sciences campus on Roosevelt Island.

“New York is really underweight in the number of engineers we produce when compared to the size of our economy,” she said. Existing academic institutions in the city produce their share of technology professionals, Li said, but New York clearly wants to prove it can be an even bigger player in innovation. “There was just no way we were going to achieve our ambition of being a tech hub through organic growth on the talent front,” she said.

The forthcoming Cornell NYC Tech campus on Roosevelt Island and other efforts in the city, she said, are expected to double the number of graduate-level engineers in New York—in about 20 years. “In the short term we’ll have a lot more students in New York,” she said, “in the long term we’ll have a lot more intellectual property.”

For its part, the Center for an Urban Future sees the need for more innovations from the city’s academic institutions needs to be commercialized. “If New York is going to continue to take the next steps, we’ve got to have more entrepreneurs and growth companies coming out of our universities,” Bowles said.

Whoever succeeds Bloomberg—whose third and final term ends in December—as mayor of New York will also have to maintain a positive outlook even if things sour. “There’s going to be a lot of startups that fail in New York in the years ahead,” Bowles said. “So many have started in the last few years, they’re not all going to succeed. The next mayor has got to be supportive even in light of some negative press that may come.”

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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  • http://www.freddestin.com Fred Destin

    What is it with many in New York that they need to do Boston bashing to tell their story ? Greycroft has built a great portfolio in NY = great ! To make comments like “Boston is a biotech environment” is demonstrating a pretty deep absence of knowledge of the local environment, as well as misunderstanding of how linked both regions are and feed off each other.

    To be more specific…

    Want a few notable exits : LogMeIn, Brightcove, DemandWare, Zipcar, Kayak ($1.8bn), TripAdvisor, ITA, Carbonite, AcmePackets ($2bn), Transcend ($300M), Vistaprint, Pixtronix, dynatrace, iRobot, Kiva Systems etc.

    Want a few notable startups: Hubspot, Veracode, bit9, dataxu, Acquia, Wayfair,grasshopper, Globoforce, SessionM, Nanigans, Actifio, Skyhook Wireless, Adelphic, Jumptap, Boundless, CustomMade, Runkeeper, RueLaLa, etc.

    I am getting cramps :-)

    • http://birch.co/ Mark Birch

      Whatever, Boston still sucks ;)

      • http://www.freddestin.com Fred Destin

        I forget you boys like a good fight :-)

    • realposter

      yeah – Yankees/Red Sox… Celtics/Knicks… Patriots/Jets or Giants.

      ironically though biotech is where the bigger dollars are. NY is making a push to be a bigger player in biotech. They realize it doesn’t make sense to get all that NIH money every year for all the research that goes on – with little commercialization to show. An article on this site pointed out before that most of the major pharma companies are headquartered in the city and its suburbs (mainly New Jersey now) – but they make most of their investments in Boston, San Fran, San Diego. We’ll see what happens.

      • http://www.freddestin.com Fred Destin

        My understanding is that unfort. lot of the biotech campuses in NJ are legacy and as you point out investment activity is migration to Boston, Singapore, SF

        • realposter

          yeah – Pfizer and Roche started putting money back into the city itself – though it’s a trickly it might signal future change.

  • http://twitter.com/wfrick Walt Frick

    Yeah I agree with Fred, this is a shame to hear and not in touch with reality. The big difference between the two ecosystems is that NYC is more narrowly concentrated on internet/mobile and Boston is more balanced (not saying either is better or worse.) http://bostinno.com/2012/11/20/new-york-edges-out-boston-in-startup-study-heres-the-fine-print/ As Fred also points out, the better way to think about these two communities is as complements to one another. Thinking of the Boston-NYC-DC corridor as one of the world’s most significant economic mega-regions is, in my view, more productive http://bostinno.com/2012/08/27/2-maps-to-make-you-stop-comparing-boston-to-nyc-or-silicon-valley/

    • realposter

      it’s a rivalry that goes back to the colonies of New Amsterdam and New England. it’s handed down from generation to generation – lol.

      yeah – you are right – that whole corridor is one of – if not the most significant economic region in the world.