New York's maturing tech scene, which first began in so-called Silicon Alley, is now giving Silicon Valley a run for its VC money.
There's never been a better time to be a startup in New York. Money is one reason. Wall Street's venture capitalists and angel investors invested $3.5bn in tech companies in 2014, so it's no surprise that startups are proliferating: New York has seen a 33 per cent increase in tech jobs in the last four years. Then there are the city's traditional benefits - a global, diverse and experienced talent pool, extensive transportation and housing infrastructure, and the sheer scale of commerce and enterprise - which are further bolstered by a strong spirit of collaboration amongst the startup community, which shares hard-won knowledge with newcomers. Co-working spaces now proliferate, and real estate developers and the city are both finding it in their interests to join forces to provide rent-free office space to young tech companies.
Being part of and contributing to the startup culture is important, from in-office talent shows to away days for the teams.
New York's innovation industry has traditionally been viewed as strong in finance, media and advertising, fashion and enterprise tech, but recently there has also been a big jump in startups that innovate in the healthcare and energy sectors. There are a number of startups with billion-dollar valuations, including Warby Parker, Blue Apron, Oscar Health and ZocDoc. And in the last two years, OnDeck Capital and Etsy, two native New York companies, achieved unicorn status.
As the community has matured, it has also spread out, and startups and tech firms can be found in neighbourhoods across downtown Manhattan and deep into Brooklyn, making them attractive to employees who want a live-work style that fits their needs. The new Cornell Tech school was championed by the former Bloomberg administration (and Bloomberg the man, who donated $100m) so the city could produce a rival to CalTech and MIT. When the campus opens on Roosevelt Island next year, a fresh host of newly minted disruptors and entrepreneurs will be released upon the world.
While casual is the buzzword among the workers and entrepreneurs of the innovation and maker economy, there's still a uniform of sorts. Just please, no more hoodies! Being part of and contributing to the startup culture is important, from in-office talent shows to away days for the teams. A flat structure is equally important - no CEOs in corner offices here, but rather respectful dialogue with direct reports and supervisors.