09/24/2013 03:04 pm ET Updated Nov 24, 2013

Google's Chief Engineer, Not Bloomberg, May Be Reponsible for Igniting NYC Tech

Mayor Bloomberg likes to take credit for transforming New York City into the second biggest technology economy in the country. Does he deserve it?

It's kind of funny that one of the key reasons that New York City's tech scene blossomed is because one really smart guy just didn't want to live in Mountain View.

Craig Nevill-Manning (actually a Kiwi by birth) was Google's chief engineer out in California. But Craig was desperate to move back to New York. He missed the city's excitement, vibrancy and good restaurants.

But Google's founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, were skeptical. They didn't think he'd be able to recruit many qualified engineers in New York.

"They said, 'OK, let's do an experiment. Go out there and if you can find more than 15 really great software engineers that we wouldn't have hired otherwise, you can stay,'" says Craig.

Google New York is now 10 years old and has over 1,500 engineers working alongside Craig in its behemoth headquarters on Eighth Avenue in Manhattan.

In some ways, Google's real estate buy and its big hires made it safe for other tech companies to set up shop here too.

But hear why the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the invention of the iPhone played important parts too. And why, even though it's hard to find anyone in NYC tech's sector who says an ungrateful word about Mayor Bloomberg, no one will really give him full credit for the city's transformation either.