I spent the last week in Silicon Valley, meeting with friends in Palo Alto, San Jose and San Francisco. That meant that I spent a tremendous amount of time driving up and down the 101 and drinking a tremendous amount of coffee.
Given my passion for technology, and the growing role of New York in the tech sector, this trip gave me some important insights into why the Valley is so powerful, and in many ways so different from New York.
First, the topography. The stretch of highway from San Jose to Palo Alto has a strip of buildings and names that can't help but make the geek's heart beat a bit faster. From the massive NASA hanger, to the Sunnyvale buildings of Yahoo and Microsoft, to the campuses of Apple, Facebook, Google, Oracle and more. Behind the shiny glass buildings, there's no doubt that technologists are hard at work -- writing code that will change the way we live our lives. The Valley is bristling with innovation -- and it is the center of the conversation wherever you go.
The next this is more about the community than tech itself. Over the course of four days, I had a series of meetings at coffee shops. Lots of coffee shops, restaurants, hang outs. It seems that wherever you go, people are talking about technology. You could overhear at each table the presentation of power-points, the promises of equity, the buzz of the entrepreneurial pitch. The valley is ground zero for startups -- and they're tucked into every booth at every possible establishment, passionately pitching their dream of startup nirvana.
This isn't to say that New York today doesn't have just as many wide-eyed visionaries looking to build the next Facebook, or Youtube, or Instagram. In fact, I'm pretty sure that New York does. But New York has a large community of finance professionals, and fashion designers, and ad executives, and filmmakers -- and the list goes on and on. Which is to say -- the Valley is single-minded in its pursuit of technical advancement, while for New York, tech is just part of the economic ecosystem. This is good and bad. It means that tech startups in New York can build powerful partnerships with existing companies and categories. The emergence of hyphen-tech embodies this. Finance/Tech, Fashion/Tech, Ad/Tech, SocialMedia/Tech, etc.
For New York tech, the rise of the co-working, incubator, and accelerator spaces have helped bring startups together... NYCEDC has a list of 16 of the most well-known spaces here.
Events this week:*
Tuesday, Feb 19
NYTECH Presents: Killer Strategies from the Worlds Greatest Innovators
Morgan Stanley, 522 Fifth Avenue
Wednesday, Feb 20
Funding the Best in Global Innovation II
SNR Denton, 1221 Avenue of the Americas
With David Pakman (Venrock), Ben Siscovick (IA Ventures), Inaki Berenguer (Pixable), Brian Cohen (NY Angels), Matt Turck (Bloomberg), Kirill Sheynkman (RTP Ventures), John Frankel (ff Venture Capital), Esther Dyson (Angel Investor), Ellie Wheeler (Greycroft), Adam Ludwin (RRE), Rahul Gandhi (High Peaks), Ann Li (NYCEDC) and more.
Wednesday, Feb 27
AIPAC Technology Division: Launch Event w/Dan Senor
Bloomberg Tower, 731 Lexington Ave
Featuring Dan Senor, co-author of Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle.
*from our friends at Garry's Guide