Seeing (and Being Seen) in New York’s Silicon Alley

From Bob Geller:

Fusion PR, the agency I work for, is a tech PR firm headquartered in New York City.   We service clients from around the world, but have a warm place in our hearts for New York tech, given our roots.  As such, we have enjoyed watching the growth of the scene here, termed since the mid-90s “Silicon Alley.”

Nice Icon for Silicon Valley - Flatiron Building in New York CityI personally like to track the companies, investors, and events that help define Silicon Alley, and have started to serve as an informal ambassador of sorts, making intros, and sharing useful info and resources with friends in tech, media and PR – people who are not right here, but who, for a variety of reasons, are also watching and interested in the growth of tech in NY.

One of these is Anne Giles Clelland. She suggested I write a post for Handshake 2.0 which provides a wrap of the NY tech scene.  The challenge is the sheer scale of tech in NYC – it is impossible to cover everything in a brief post, but I do my best below to hit the highlights, and welcome feedback and suggestions on anything I may have missed.

Charting the Scene 

If you are serious about NY tech, before doing anything else you might want to first get a 64K foot view.  Given that the Alley is no longer confined to the Flatiron district in Manhattan (perhaps we need a new name for it), but now extends into Brooklyn, and soon – with the addition of CornellNYC, the forthcoming tech campus that is collaboration between the city, Cornell and Israel’s Technion Institute – Roosevelt Island, this might seem a bit overwhelming.  But don’t worry; there is a map for that.

During NY Internet Week last month, the organizers unveiled an interactive digital map developed in conjunction with the Bloomberg administration.  It shows where startups, investors and incubators are located.  See this post on NYConvergence for more info.

When you are ready to get out and take a tour, do you go by tram, subway, or hot air balloon (most NYers know the Roosevelt Island tram)?  The Daily News suggests taking a ride on the R train, which they call “Silicon Subway.”  It travels through many of the neighborhoods that are now part of NY tech.

Taking in the Events

A great way to immerse yourself in Alley culture is to attend the many networking and educational events.  You can find a good one almost any day or night of the week, covering many areas of tech and business.

Gary Sharma’s Gary’s Guide does a great job of tracking the many events, and shares these in a weekly email newsletter.  NYC Startup Digest does the same.  Click on the links to subscribe.

Perhaps the defining event for the Alley scene is NY Tech Meetup.  Every month, 800 plus people gather at an New York University (NYU) location to view demos from local companies, listen to speakers (Mayor Bloomberg keynoted a few months ago), and mix afterwards.  It costs just $10, however it is important to register without delay when tickets become available because they sell out very quickly.

Tuning into the Buzz, and Becoming Part of It

Whether you are an industry watcher who wants to tune into the Alley buzz, or a NY-based startup seeking some of your own, there are a range of options.

For starters, the NY Tech Meetup mailing list is a great way to tap into the Zeitgeist here (fair warning it is a busy list, meaning there are lots of emails flying back and forth).  It can give you a fly-on-the-wall view of what is top of mind amongst the startups on any given day; they share tips and info, and ask and answer all kinds of questions ranging from highly technical, to more business-oriented (one more warning, they encourage people to participate, contribute and not just lurk – and do not tolerate self promoters).  Click on the above link to subscribe, and view archives.

Local startups seeking to gain a broader audience could do worse for themselves than to apply to get on the demo roster at the monthly NY Tech Meetup (described above).  

I list below a number blogs and websites that cover the scene.  Just about every NY daily and magazine has someone assigned to the beat.  In addition, a range of independent blogs cover the hot stories and topics, including those by PR folks like myself, VCs, etc.  You can learn about what is hot in NY tech by reading them, and can approach the blogs to get coverage of your own news.

Fusion PR (and friends of Fusion): Flack’s Revenge, Fusion PR Forum, Silicon Alley, Handshake 2.0

VC blogs: This is Going to be Big (Charlie O’Donnell), Chris Dixon, A VC Blog (Fred Wilson), Alan Brody’s iBreakfast

Media and Associated Blogs: BetaBeat (NY Observer), Open (NY Times)

Others: The New York Tech Blog, NYConvergence

Additional Reading

For a tech belt to thrive, you need an ecosystem to support it.  This generally means readily available (and affordable) office space, investors, a customer pool, human capital, universities, and good communications and transportation infrastructure.  

New York has all of these resources, and it would take another lengthy blog post to list them.  I will follow this post up with others that provide more details and updates on the tech scene here. 

Meanwhile, I list below articles that do a good job of describing and cataloging NY tech.

Robert Geller is President of Fusion Public Relations. He writes the blog Flack’s Revenge and is @rgeller on Twitter.  Fusion Business Accelerator (BA), a Fusion PR company, is a sponsor of the Tech Showcase on Handshake 2.0.

 Fusion Public Relations is a client of Handshake Media, Incorporated, the parent company of Handshake 2.0.

 

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Comments

  1. What excitement! What a display of work… I squint to avoid the sparks. I visited and missed the life. I saw the physical scale and missed entirely the human work scale. I was writing about climate-change and forgot there was an interior dynamic, a change even one of us old guys should have seen.

    Thanks for the sketch. I feel hopeful, rare these days.

  2. I felt a similar sense of excitement, Robert, when I read Bob Geller’s inside info on the New York tech scene. I could imagine being a new entrepreneur in NYC – from NY or elsewhere – knowing I needed to get connected, reading Geller’s guide, acting on its advice, and finding myself immediately immersed in the creative synergy of a tech community. I can imagine, too, that great people with great ideas for great companies will find their progress accelerated by being “in the know” thanks to Geller! Exciting times! Thanks, Robert, for your comment, and Bob, for sharing your insights and expertise with Handshake 2.0!

  3. Anne, Robert, thanks for the kind words on the post. I am glad that you share my excitement about the tech scene here, and look forward to sharing updates and more info.

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