Friday, January 4, 2008

Does it matter that New York is less techie than Silicon Valley

Yesterday and today I was engaged in a discussion on the nextNY.org mailing list and a question came up which I really care deeply about. The question for me is "does it matter that New York less techie than Silicon Valley." No one really asked that question, but that was the question that was triggered in my mind.

I think it does matter.

It seems to me that the biggest difference between New York and the Bay Area in technology is that we use it and they create it. We tend to be less interested (or perhaps capable) of creating solutions to the really hard problems. Of course if you need a new algorithm for calculating derviatives, then New York is the place to be. But we are not solvers of hard problems in the "product" space, particularly where the problem is broad. We to tend to be good at verticals, but I can't think of very many consumer products in the tech world that have come out of New York. That doesn't mean there aren't any. It just means its comparatively tiny.

The reason for this is that consumer or end user technology is all about packaging something really hard to make it easy. If you can't do the "really hard" part then you can't do the "make it easy part." I am a hardcore technology guy that also happens to love making products. There are lots of those guys in Silicon Valley. Not so many in New York.

The good news is that the Internet has vastly reduced the significance of the distance issue. I tend to interact with co-workers and community peers online in a way that just wasn't possible 10 years ago. As we build newco, I am committed to being as virtual as possible and using best of breed talent wherever it is. On many of the lists that I participate in, there is a far more global feel than just being Silicon Valley, or even U.S. centric.

So for me the solution to this problem, and it is a problem, is finding the *best* people that I can, wherever they are, and making them a part of my own virtual New York. This is not fully tested yet since we are not funded yet and so do not have the resources to really fully do it the way I envision it, but I do believe it is possible to create a *better* technology company outside Silicon Valley than inside it, by building an absolutely best of breed company with talent from anywhere. I am not talking about outsourcing here but really about building a more location agnostic organizational DNA. Perfecting this concept could really give us an incredible lever in competing effectively with the valley.

3 comments:

  1. New York is not a place I would bootstrap a company but I love the idea of having a virtual company. What is the difference walking down the hall or opening a video chat? However, managing the interruptions would need to be considered but if you are hiring the best regardless, your only problem should you extend out of the US is employment law and taxation.

    I would like to know more about how you are going to build the company with the model.

    On a side note, I worked for a bit in NYC before the dot com bust and you are right about the vertical. It feels very ultra focused and if it does not relate to making, managing or tracking money, there is not much of a market.

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  2. Thanks Jason. I will be posting more about my thoughts on this.

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  3. SpiderOak, a new backup company, wrote a post about their virtual company:

    https://spideroak.com/blog/200801301220

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