Amid the hullabaloo about New York’s growing innovation scene lurks a big question about the future. “Is New York’s rise in technology a combination of the mayor’s exuberant personality, things that are happening organically, and the overall growth of tech?” asked Steven Rosenbaum, CEO of Magnify.net. “Or is there a fundamental shift happening?”
Last Thursday during the many Social Media Week events happening across the city, he moderated a panel that included local entrepreneurs, representatives of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration, and a pioneering venture capitalist who offered a few opinions on the matter. Rosenbaum’s company Magnify.net is a provider of cloud-based video curation service. He is also entrepreneur-at-large with the New York City Economic Development Corp. (NYCEDC).
Joining him in the discussion were Scott Anderson, chief strategy officer with the Control Group; Matthew Burnett, CEO of Maker’s Row; Alan Patricof, managing director with Greycroft Partners; Ann Li, managing director and executive vice president with the NYCEDC; and Jonathan Bowles, executive director with the Center for an Urban Future think-tank.
Rosenbaum wondered if a landmark IPO or other exit by a startup in New York could give the city real bragging rights in its rivalry with Boston over which region follows Silicon Valley in the list of top tech hubs.
New York to some extent is still waiting for a big win among its startups, according to Anderson of Control Group, a technology innovation strategy company, but he also cast doubt on the necessity of achieving such a milestone. “That doesn’t mean business isn’t happening or people aren’t making money,” he said. “Hanging our hats on that big win is a mistake.”
Maker’s Row co-founder Burnett told Xconomy after the panel it is getting easier for some startups in the city to reach customers thanks to such e-commerce platforms as Etsy and Fab.com. “They are creating opportunities for entrepreneurs to create their own goods and run their own businesses,” he says. Maker’s Row is an online marketplace that connects small and midsize businesses with American manufacturers. Burnett previously founded fashion accessory company The Brooklyn Bakery. “[Fab.com] helped me be able to pay rent for so long as an entrepreneur,” he says.
The growth of the local startup community, according Greycroft’s Patricof, is not likely to halt anytime soon. “New York is like a meteor at the moment,” he said. “The momentum has been started; you can’t stop it now. This train is moving.” An early player in the private investment world, he was a founder and chairman of New York magazine and founded private equity firm Apax Partners, now based in London, prior to forming Greycroft.
Patricof said investments in the past focused largely on technology semiconductors and