Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
It Started With a Jolt: How New York Became a Tech Town (nytimes.com)
127 points by ishikawa 28 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 187 comments



One of the biggest lessons I've taken from New York's approach is not to try and be the next Silicon Valley (as every community is trying to be). You can't beat the Valley at its own game. That's foolish.

Instead, look to what industries your community has long been successful in, and develop the tech to disrupt those industries before the Valley does.

NYC's example was to focus tech on advertising, finance, and media -- the industries it has long dominated.

I'm from a small mining city in Canada (Sudbury, Ontario). I see the same desperate hope to become a tech center. But the best startups are the ones focused on areas where our community has traditionally held a significant leadership position: mining.

One such startup, and arguable our most successful one, is Minalytix. They develop software for analyzing mining and exploration data.

Another is Symboticware, which creates hardware and software to gather real-time data from machines on the ground and analyzing it back at the office.

Jannatec is focused on solving the challenges of getting quality wireless data in and out of complex underground mines (those many kilometers of hardrock don't exactly make it easy).

TesMan is focused on mine safety. Dura21 works on better pipes. Hard-Line is tackling robotics. ClickMox does lidar. There are many others.

These are small but thriving startups. They're not sexy. They're not likely to be the next Facebook or Google. But they're solving problems our community has long established itself as being experts at solving. It's also transforming our economy from one being tied to a dwindling resource (easily accessible ore), to one that leads in mining operations around the world.

A lot of towns want to be the next SV. It's not going to happen. Trying to be SV is to live in denial about what made SV successful in the first place.

But tackling a smaller niche in the wider tech space? Building on the resources, expertise, and reputation you already have? That's a very doable approach and the field is wide open.


100% agree. The thing nobody also remembers is that Silicon Valley was called SV because of it's hardware/manufacturing not really it's software development. The software side of things flourished because of the existing hardware work that had already existed (semiconductors, parc lab arpanet, apple, oracle, atari).


I think the most critical flaw in Sudbury's plan, is that people would have to live in Sudbury (no offense)

It's a small, cold, somewhat-remote city known for mining, and particularly for having an incredibly tall smokestack visible everywhere in town. You can fund startups, but who is going to move from other places to Sudbury?


LOL

It's not a critical flaw. It's a reality to be contended with.

The flaw would be pretending this isn't the case, and trying to be just like Silicon Valley and competing with them on their terms at their own game.

Sudbury is a real city in a real place. It can't relocate. It can't choose a better climate. So community leaders have to contend with reality.

Like any competitive landscape, you have to look at your strengths and weaknesses. Our weaknesses are obvious (it's fucking cold). But our strengths?

How about having two of the largest and longest running mining companies in the world operating here? How about having an entire class of engineers who have specialized on mining and have already chosen to live here? How about having two colleges and a university supplying fresh talent every year? How about a radically lower cost of living? And an abundance of funding from local, provincial, and federal governments who are hungry to see real progress in this space? How about a far more open immigration policy attracting top talent from countries your president is afraid of?

I'm sorry but this Valley-centric mentality is just weird. It may surprise you to learn that not everyone thinks the Bay Area is awesome. (I've been. I loved visiting. Wouldn't want to live there.) Alot of brilliant mathematicians, scientists, and engineers want nothing to do with it.

We also have universal health care, radically lower crime rates, an abundance of nature, low population density, comparatively cheap real estate, and hockey. So much hockey.

That smoke stack has long been roughly 98% water vapor because we long ago cleaned up our smelting process to not need it, and the steam was needed to push the other 2% to the top. It's also being decommissioned in the next few years.

So who's moving here? The people who love it. Don't believe me? Check out #WeLiveUpHere for a hint of the passion locals have for this community.

Anyway, that was all an aside. This wasn't about "hey, look how great Sudbury is, you should all be like Sudbury." It's 100% fine if you don't like it, but it's delusional to think that everyone feels the same way.

My point was that every community has to contend with tech disruption. The desperate ones will throw their money behind anything tech and hope it sticks. The smart ones will focus on the areas where they're already strong.


It is cold and remote. As someone living in Seattle, why do you stay in the cold/dark and not go to Toronto/Vancouver/Victoria? Much better weather + much more tech $ + proximity to NY/LAX/Seattle..


> an incredibly tall smokestack visible everywhere in town.

That smokestack was a crisi-tunity: decades of acid rain made the soil incredibly favourable for growing blueberries.

Ignore those blue blobs they sell in supermarkets, they’re garbage.


If that means low col, than as someone who doesn't go site seeing much to begin with, I'm in (assuming the internet speeds up there are ok)


Their internet can be the best in Ontario. They have a local provider that overbuilt the incumbents with fibre to the home.


In seriousness I would totally consider it if it weren't for the fact that I hear getting a Visa is hell


Canada really isn’t a hard place to immigrate to if you have at least a half-specialized degree, a year or two of experience and can pass an English or French test.

There are a ton of immigration programs. The current fed gov is letting in a ton of people.

If you have a job lined up, go for it. It’s a better situation here than most places.


>> The current fed gov is letting in a ton of people.

No judgement implied, but this is primarily on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. There has been little increase to economic immigration quotas since the last government.

Also, very few new Canadians want to go anywhere outside Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, which is understandable to a degree but not where the need for skilled, employment-aged people is most critical.


Numbers/sources?

The official reports say that they’re expecting 60% of immigration growth to come from economic migrants.

And the proportion of new Canadians settling in BC/ON/PQ is down from ‘97. But who knows how many “settle” and move the next day.

They’re blaming processing times on any decline for economic migration, which I’d expect this government to rectify. People tend to vote for the people that let them in.

And if anything, the economic migrant categories have quotas. Less demand = less points required to win an invitation.

https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/co...


Would be interesting to know how they grow, and whether they open another office elsewhere, for this reason?

It often sounds like what SV lacks is good ideas for what to spend all the money and talent on. Maybe the residents of Sudbury have an edge there -- presumably everybody knows a dozen people in the mining business, and is well sited to figure out what their pain points are. You just need a few of those people also know enough about tech to see how to help... and then hire a dozen coders elsewhere once they are needed.


Most towns don’t have anything like that. What local economic activity there is fulfills inherently local needs: healthcare, education, construction trades, retail, etc. Maybe a handful of “legacy” players on the national/international stage still holding on from back when those things were less geographically centralized, with layoffs looming.

Places desperate to become “the next Silicon Valley” aren’t anything to outsiders, as far as I can tell. That’s why they’re desperate.


I'm a little late to reply, but most towns formed around some type of localized economic activity: mining, forestry, shipping, hunting... something. Towns generally don't form for no reason at all.

That's not to say that EVERY town has such an opportunity. But it strikes me as the place to start.


I'm in Calgary and totally agree with your strategy. After a decade-plus of crazy-good economic times the city and province have had a tough couple of years due to macro (lower demand, increased US production) and micro (no market access) events. They keep talking about diversifying the economy through dramatic shifts in the focus of our start-ups, but (a) we have an entire generation of relatively young, super-educated people who know how to build real companies (from financing through execution) and (b) we have a non-O&G ecosystem of companies that has always been overshadowed by the energy sector. We don't need to radically shift to something new, we need to double down on the companies that are already showing traction in new areas and, more importantly, the people who have already shown they can build something valuable the last time around. In my mind this is defined primarily by what governments (municipal through federal) don't due vs. becoming activist partners. They need to focus on the ecosystem by removing barriers not picking winners. This will also likely require them to trim the fat that's accumulated over the past decade like every private company has been forced to do...


> I'm from a small mining city in Canada (Sudbury, Ontario).

Yet you got fibre optic to the home (with phone and tv) years before those of us in the south.


Yup, it's great.


Your whole post missed the important part about what can get funded and where.

NYC is coming up, but the graveyard of quirky disruptors would still only be pursued in Silicon Valley. These non revenue generating companies acting as developer daycare need to be flipped from one portfolio to the next until you have a deal size big enough to matter, swap out the board and executive team and shop it to the public markets, ka-ching. New York VCs and other markets cant and wont chase developer daycare companies on a broad enough scale to grow these into deals.


Maybe I'm missing something, but why are you talking only in terms of massive funding and growth. The GP stated that they're seeing success in smaller (I don't actually know the size) companies due to capitalizing on a local or hyperlocal need. That's far from disrupt, fund, flip, and retire, and it's a perfectly viable way to start, grow and maintain a business.

Again, I could be missing the entire point of your comment.


The point is that disrupting local industries gives only a narrow field of what can get funded

The graveyard of seemingly pointless portfolio pieces is a key component which nyc cant replicate


I more or less responded to this in response to "etblg", but you'd be amazed at the amount of funding available from angels, local governments, provincial governments, and federal governments.

No, we probably won't be building the next Facebook up in Sudbury. We don't need to.

But we can do extremely well being "big fish in a small pond", as the saying goes. Our strength is mining. Very few communities have the concentrated resources and expertise that we do in this very specific sector.

I think your point of view is a little VC centric. If you're a community leader in any city like ours, your ambition isn't to attract billions of dollars of investment to build the next unicorn. I mean, sure, we wouldn't say no to it. But the actual challenge we're trying to solve is job creation. To create jobs faster than they can disappear.

If we throw all our money willy-nilly at any tech startup, we're not going to get a good return on that investment. Startups notoriously fail at a ridiculously high rate.

But we can look at our strengths, and build upon them.

You know, like any sane business person would.


non revenue generating companies acting as developer daycare need to be flipped from one portfolio...

I wonder what's going to happen when, at some point, the Saudi Arabia Sovereign Wealth Fund stops putting money into Softbank. They're currently the world's largest source of dumb money. That can't last forever.[1]

[1] https://techcrunch.com/2018/12/19/softbank-year-in-review/


As long as Trump is in power they should be OK.


Apologies if the point was sarcasm, but you never know. It isn't obvious to me that this behavior is in any way helpful for success or even that it's the only way for success. Sudbury can probably do just fine for itself with another approach.


Huh? Tell that to companies like Blue Apron, Etsy, and We Work which are about as destined for failure as any Silicon Valley daycare company.


True, lets do more of it


I realize the anti-Amazon movement was a limited (but loud) group of individuals, but if their level of influence has lasting power, NYC tech is in trouble.

Consider NYTimes' own article on the amazon exit. Half the people angry at Amazon were commenting that Amazon wasn't going to pay living wages (thinking that corporate HQ2 jobs are fulfillment jobs.) The other half were angry that Amazon was going to pay too much and would drive up rents. Which one is it? I don't know, but both sides banded together.

One major issue AOC had with Amazon was the fear that Amazon couldn't guarantee they would only be hiring local NYers -- since when did NYC become a country? Where could/couldnt workers come from -- would it be only from Queens? Would Brooklyn be OK? What if someone commuted from NJ? What if someone commuted down from the suburb? At what point does someone who moves to NYC become a NYer? This type of in-city protectionism was shocking and completely ignores how local economies work.


Politicians (AOC included) represent their current constituents. Not future potential constituents who might move into their district, but people who live there now.

The key issue here is rising rent, and this is something Local politicians (AOC in particular) campaign on. A significant portion of people here would see their rents go up without seeing any additional benefits.

How would you expect an elected official, who campaigned against higher rents, to justify not opposing Amazon?


I am not an all a fan of how Amazon went about this farcical "search" and haven't deeply researched the deal NYC gave them.

That said, addressing rising rents by limiting the number of high-paying jobs in a city seems like one of the worst possible ways to approach the problem.


This assumes the higher-paying jobs would have gone to the district's representatives, instead of to out-of-town yuppies. I am open to being contracted on this, but my assumption is that Amazon's HQ2 would not have primarily created jobs for underserved Queens residents.

My own experience in NYC's tech scene is that a plurality of tech workers come from outside the city, and I am skeptical that their presence nevertheless "lifts all boats" via Seamless orders and bar tabs.


I'm pretty surprised to hear about the district-level focus here. I was born and raised in NYC and have always heard of the city as a single entity. NYC has a massive number of people who come from every district into Manhattan for jobs and leave at the end of the day.

Having a district-level focus seems like a poor resolution -- should queens residents then conversely be restricted from working in Manhattan? It seems pretty regressive since poorer districts would get poorer.


It's about people getting priced out of their homes, their neighborhoods. Just from the news of Amazon, people in adjacent neighborhoods were told by landlords their rents would be increased significantly upon lease renewal.

People grow up in their neighborhoods and are connected to them and proud of them. Their are ways to bring up a neighborhood without pricing its residents out of living there.

The main issue that progressives took with all of this is that Amazon pays $0 in federal tax, demanded $3 billion in local tax breaks, and offered very little enforceable things in return.

We can't just let huge companies run around asking major cities to bend over for them and offer up their money and their souls for almost nothing in return.


> Amazon pays $0 in federal tax

Citation to actual financial statements needed. Their most recent 10-K indicates they paid $1.2B in total taxes.

> demanded $3 billion in local tax breaks

No, they didn't. At least $2.5B of that is on the table for any company that wants to build and office for 25,000 people in LIC.

> offered very little enforceable things in return

Not sure what you mean here. The majority of the tax breaks are directly tied to headcount or construction. No hiring/construction == no credits.


> At least $2.5B of that is on the table for any company that wants to build and office for 25,000 people in LIC.

Right. Leaving $500MM in cold hard taxpayer dollars to build a building for the richest guy in the world so he could promptly compete with local businesses. Which, to be clear, was not something a lot of those taxpayers were happy about.


$500MM is not $3B, and you don't get to lie about the amount just because you think its still a big number.


Amazon paying $0 in 2018 federal taxes was widely reported. Here's one citation: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/feb/15/amazon-ta...


That article is citing the same ITEP report that was posted here, a report which does not cite its sources. I'm not trusting ITEP to be any more unbiased than the Tax Foundation.


An official is elected to represent her district, hence they there was a district-level focus.

No one is suggesting restricting anyone's ability to work but you can't be surprised when people elected to represent a district act with only that district in mind.


NYers are opposed to commuters now? The city with 1 to 2 million current daily commuters?


The median income of NY's 14th district is 52K. My mother in law makes about that working in a hotel in Manhattan and is an immigrant who has lived in the same apartment in this district for 20 years. In what way would Amazon moving in possibly be good for someone in her situation?

I also live in this district but work in tech and have a market rate salary. Amazon moving in would be good for people like me, but the average resident of this district is much closer my MIL.


Would your mother-in-law not rather work in a hotel closer to home? Not everyone has to work directly for Amazon in order to benefit from the investment. Increased numbers of high-paying jobs means increased spending and new businesses in the area, as well.


>> The median income of NY's 14th district is 52K. My mother in law makes about that working in a hotel in Manhattan and is an immigrant who has lived in the same apartment in this district for 20 years. In what way would Amazon moving in possibly be good for someone in her situation?

> Would your mother-in-law not rather work in a hotel closer to home? Not everyone has to work directly for Amazon in order to benefit from the investment. Increased numbers of high-paying jobs means increased spending and new businesses in the area, as well.

Sure, maybe she could work at a brand-spanking new hotel next to HQ2 in her former neighborhood -- after she's been driven out of it by rising rents caused by HQ2.


Not limiting the number of high-paying tech jobs in the Bay Area has been terrible for blue collar workers who don't own any land. People have been driven from their (former) homes by higher paid tech workers.

I think it's easy to understand why people in Queens would fight against a similar fate.


>> Not limiting the number of high-paying tech jobs in the Bay Area has been terrible for blue collar workers who don't own any land.

I'd say limiting high-density housing is really what has brought down the Bay Area. In contrast, New York has mostly embraced high-density housing. Take a look at LIC: https://www.6sqft.com/queens-new-skyline-a-rundown-of-the-30...

When you build upwards, the sky is the limit, literally.


I looked at the first seven of those; one was a hotel and the rest were all high-density luxury towers, not affordable housing for blue collar workers.

For example:

https://www.buzzbuzzhome.com/us/the-forge


You're absolutely right, but I dont see what is wrong with that. When you build high-density luxury towers, it creates capacity and fewer people "push out" into bordering areas. Contrast this with the Bay Area where the lack of high-density luxury towers causes people to push miles out and buy homes. Would the Bay Area have a housing problem if there were ~20 more luxury high rises Palo Alto? Seems to be that would greatly relieve the upwards pressure on the locus around Palo Alto.

Also, forcing people to move into low-density homes seems regressive. It can be an option.


I think that's probably true, and the Bay Area needs more high density housing, but lessening the impact is not eliminating the impact.

So perhaps it's less harmful for the current residents of Queens, but it's still negative. Why should they not oppose that?


If we're trying to oppose all gentrification, we'd also have to

- stop all jobs growth in Manhattan (10min subway ride to LIC)

- and/or we'd have to put a cap on salaries (what happens to doctors? minimum wage? how do they pay med school loans?)

- and/or ensure LIC residents dont commute to well-paying jobs in Manhattan

- and/or ensure only low paying jobs are created in LIC (how many mechanics jobs and other non corporate jobs can LIC support? Why havent they already been created?)

All of the above seem silly. At some point, you'd almost be breaking off LIC into a self-sufficient fiefdom in itself. The assumption would be that all the benefits that came from banding together as a city and creating a modern society were net negative to the residents of LIC. This seems quaint but doesn't feel right to me.


> The assumption would be that all the benefits that came from banding together as a city and creating a modern society were net negative to the residents of LIC.

I suspect we could find many people who do think life was better before tech and finance took over. Not only in LIC, but in blue, pink, and even some white collar neighborhoods around the country.

Whether their opinion feels right to us here on Hacker News is only relevant to the extent that our political influence outweighs theirs (if it does).


I don't know, it seems pretty directly based on supply and demand. People move to jobs. Other places would love to have the jobs, but they're not NYC. Let them win. What's wrong with that?

It won't actually change much since Long Island City is still booming, but you could say the same thing about building housing; every little bit helps.


Nothing about the cancellation was a "limit". New York has not gone and closed up the gates. (That is illegal with a Constitution that guarantees free movement of labor.)

Amazon is welcome to expand without a deal, and in fact they still are, just not a brand new HQ2.


She represents them to the federal government. She has no legal authority and really shouldn't have any political authority to override or influence decisions that state and city officials make. She is a federal officer, and the deal with Amazon was a city / state initiative.

Her speaking out against Amazon was her speaking out against something that is not within her sphere of competence or within her elected sphere of influence.


> She has no legal authority and really shouldn't have any political authority to override or influence decisions that state and city officials make.

She's a citizen of the state and city and, as such, should indeed have “political authority” to influence decisions state and city officials make.


The backlash was mostly about the tax breaks and government subsidies that would have been given. The argument was that New York is New York and doesn’t need to bribe companies to put big offices here.


> The backlash was mostly about the tax breaks and government subsidies that would have been given. The argument was that New York is New York and doesn’t need to bribe companies to put big offices here.

If that is the case, where are the calls to end the Industrial & Commercial Abatement Program[1], the Relocation and Employment Assistance Program[2], and the Excelsior Jobs Program[3]? That is where the vast majority of the credits came from. The backlash was because it was Amazon that wanted to take advantage of those programs, and do so after that ridiculous and condescending dog-and-pony show they called a search.

Now, some subset of opposition surely is from people who think no company that wants to build a large complex in LIC with 25,000 employees deserves billions in subsidies. If that is the case, those people need to work against the root causes and stop acting like this $3B package was some special deal for Amazon.

[1] https://www1.nyc.gov/site/finance/benefits/benefits-industri...

[2] https://www1.nyc.gov/site/finance/benefits/business-reap.pag...

[3] https://esd.ny.gov/excelsior-jobs-program


This argument is obvious nonsense.

There was no outcry to prevent Amazon from using general programs that were open to all applicants, the problem was with the special extras they negotiated.

There's no reason to think that Amazon would have been facing opposition if they'd just announced a new project in LIC and applied for the normal programs.

They didn't do that.


> This argument is obvious nonsense.

No, it isn't.

> There was no outcry to prevent Amazon from using general programs that were open to all applicants, the problem was with the special extras they negotiated.

People were outraged over the $3B. Less than 20% of that was special extras for Amazon. I don't think anyone would have been any less outraged if the number was $2.5B instead. Particularly since most of the arguments boil down to "billion-dollar corporations don't need tax breaks from NYC/NYS".

> There's no reason to think that Amazon would have been facing opposition if they'd just announced a new project in LIC and applied for the normal programs.

Yeah, because nobody would have known. Look at all the people who assume other large companies in NYC don't get any tax breaks simply based on not hearing about said tax breaks.


> I don't think anyone would have been any less outraged if the number was $2.5B instead

I don't think Coldplay is very good. We all have opinions. If they wanted to see what would have happened in that scenario they should have tried it.

> Yeah, because nobody would have known. Look at all the people who assume other large companies in NYC don't get any tax breaks simply based on not hearing about said tax breaks.

Well yeah. They launched a massive national PR campaign to showcase that they were demanding the highest level of special treatment. They literally engineered an auction where they were asking cities to compete to see who could give them the most taxpayer dollars. A lot of New Yorkers weren't interested in "winning" that competition.

Not only could they still take advantage of the existing programs, it's almost certain that they actually still will to some extent. And as you'll see when it happens few will protest that because it wasn't the thing people were protesting against.

They were protesting special treatment.

Many New Yorkers felt, justifiably, like the richest man in the world and the most valuable company in the world should play by the same fucking rules as everyone else. I live here and I'm one of them.


Let's say that the special treatment for Amazon were eliminated. That is, only about ~%80 of the tax breaks were in effect. So now Amazon only receives ~$2.4 billion in tax breaks through the pre-existing incentive programs.

This is pure speculation, but I suspect the opponents wouldn't have altered their tone. At any rate -- I agree with you that Amazon shouldn't have received the special tax cut, and they didn't need it, and it was foolish of the State/city leadership to offer it.

I wanted AMZN to come here to NYC, but that whole charade they put on was a turn off. meh.


> This is pure speculation, but I suspect the opponents wouldn't have altered their tone.

There’s literally no evidence of this. Dozens of companies, including evil empires like Google and Goldman Sachs, have taken advantage of Empire State grants and EDC programs and whatever else without all that much drama.

Amazon literally shot themselves in the face with their arrogant, entitled attitude here. Consider placing the blame where it belongs.


I think plenty of people don't actually like the pre-existing incentive programs either. I certainly don't. And the mutual race to the bottom across jurisdictions that makes them a requirement to compete doesn't justify them either.


Even if this wasn't over the extras, this would still be an obvious indicator that _maybe we're giving away too much money with these programs_.


I don't think it's all that surprising that individuals are more motivated to protest something specific rather than the economic development programs that allow it to happen.

I (and many others I've spoken to) don't have a problem with the idea of economic subsidy to support businesses moving to NYC, but objected to a company the size (and success) of Amazon doing so. I can imagine there would be widespread support for a move to limit these programs to smaller startup companies, and maybe we'll even see some local politicians propose that.

But there's a city/state issue here. Few people would object to Amazon creating a massive HQ and 25k jobs in Albany, even if they would in NYC. So any answer would have to take that into account too.


See, that's the thing. Talking about the $3B in credits like it was all a special deal for Amazon hides the scope of these programs and blocks those conversations on what limits (if any) they should have. You won't see widespread support for limiting these programs arise at all if the people who would support it don't realize that they are hanging out waiting for the next huge corporation to come along and take advantage of them without the self-important bullshit Amazon pulled.


They definitely didn't need to bribe Amazon. There was a time to argue against that. True leadership would have been to have these protests when the incentives package was put together, not later when we already bagged the win and would lose everything.


> True leadership would have been to have these protests when the incentives package was put together,

Which is hard to do, since Amazon convinced most city leaders across the country to keep the majority of the incentives secret, and therefore no one could know how bad it was until it was already too late.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/05/technology/amazon-headqua...

There's a strong argument here that the protesters were the only people involved in this whole ordeal that actually did their job properly.


To add to this -- even when it was a secret, they were still protesting the idea of providing those incentives.


Amazon figured this out already and took steps to prevent a backlash while the packages were being put together. This was why Amazon required NDA's from every single bid team, to prevent anyone outside from knowing what the package looked like when it was being put together. So they reaped exactly what they sowed: they look terrible and ineffective, because they tried to keep it all secret and present the public with a fait acompli.


I don't think any leadership in the world could have made it so that Corey Johnson didn't try to prove a point to Blasio and Cuomo. I went to both council hearings and it didn't seem to me like any incentives or tax breaks would be acceptable for big business, even the very same current tax breaks any company of that scale could apply for and get in new york state.


Except they weren't given a chance to be part of that negotiation process, it was done in secret with minimal public input


Yes, true leadership by Cuomo and De Blasio would have involved local politicians and the people they represent from the start. But they didn't. They negotiated the deal in secret then presented it to citizens as a done deal whether they liked it or not.

Really, can anyone be surprised that this was not met with enthusiasm? IMO the blame lies at the feet of Cuomo, who is used to getting his own way and dictating to others. This is one of very few times that it came back to bite him.


Given the withdrawal of Amazon, didn't that invalidate the argument?


See what happens to the lots Amazon was going to build on. If they're sitting empty in a year or two, sure. If another company (or dozens of smaller companies) snaps them up and builds similar amounts of offices to what Amazon was planning, nah. I'm betting on the latter.


Well you might be wrong, the land will now be redeveloped for condos 1,000 total.

" Patchett did toss out a scrap of news about what’s next for Long Island City. He said city land that had been slated for the tech giant’s corporate towers will instead become a mix of homes and businesses. That, after all, had been the original plan before New York decided to drop it and go a-courtin’ for the company. The new-old project will consist of a thousand residential units—two hundred and fifty of which will be affordable. The neighborhood will also gain 100,000 square feet of light manufacturing and industrial space, ground floor retail, a cultural center, a 600-seat middle school, and a one-acre park."

http://gothamist.com/2019/02/22/amazon_blame_game_patchett.p...


> a thousand residential units—two hundred and fifty of which will be affordable. The neighborhood will also gain 100,000 square feet of light manufacturing and industrial space, ground floor retail, a cultural center, a 600-seat middle school, and a one-acre park.

Those things sound like a much better addition to the area than one Amazon.


Given the state of housing in NYC that sounds like a far more desirable outcome than Amazon taking up all that space.


Amazon didn’t withdraw from NYC. They still have around 5k employees here. Meanwhile Google is significantly expanding their NYC offices and nobody had to bribe them to do it.


Are you sure about that? Giving tax breaks to large employers is pretty standard practice. What was unusual about the Amazon debacle was how public it was.


Pretty sure Google is eligible for the same Empire State development grants that made up $2.5B of the $3B that Amazon was going to get.


Actually, the city credits (which constituted about $1.3B) are not available for businesses in Manhattan south of 96th St. That said, Lower Manhattan has its own incentive programs.

That said, I'm really getting annoyed at the people who are both ignorant of how Amazon was going to get its $3B in credits and assuming that other companies, like Google, are getting none simply because nobody talks about it.


Amazon's still expanding in nyc too. But....not 25,000 employees. Does Google have 25,000 employees in NYC?


At its current rate of growth it will by the time Amazon would have.


That was one reason for the backlash, but it wasn't "mostly" about that. I guarantee that people like AOC would have been against Amazon HQ2, subsidy or not.

Edit to explain further: much of the backlash was about concerns like gentrification, or the inability of local infrastructure to handle 25k new residents.


No it wasn't. It was about giving them taxpayer money to do it.

Not that many people here care much about limiting development in general, especially in dense center city areas like the East River waterfront.

People were pissed that we were considering giving money to the richest guy in the world to do something that nearly every company seems desperately interested in doing anyways, namely locating businesses within a half mile radius of midtown manhattan.


> NYC tech is in trouble.

I don't see much support for your argument here. As I see it, the stance is NYC is a strong enough tech city to be able to say no to Amazon; to not need to bend to their every whim to bring them here.


I would agree that we didn't need to bend to their every whim. We could probably have given them no incentives or token incentives and still won the HQ2 deal. There was a time to do that -- when we were making the proposal, not after it was already agreed to by both sides.

But that isn't the my argument -- my argument is that the entire rhetoric is nonsensical. My shock is the dual narrative on "tech pays too much -- down with tech" "tech pays too little -- down with tech." This reeks of false excuses and clinging to some mythical perfect that doesn't exist and isn't driven by tech.

Inter-city import of workers is also non-sensical.

Finally, that the exit of 25,000 high paying jobs could be seen as some sort of victory is also alarming. NYC has really never recovered from the 2008 crash when ~500,000 well paying finance jobs were compressed/reduced/automated. NYC needs those jobs and the ecosystem they would create.

EDIT: In response to the citation request, i'll look for it. But rough numbers are: several broker dealers disappeared all together - Lehman, Bears, Merrill. UBS' building in Stamford is practically empty now. Legions of contractors, not on employee payroll but still working there, were also let go.

Their books of business were absorbed but the staff were mostly redundant. Secondly, 2008 was used (wisely) to compress unnecessary workers -- tons of stuff that used to be done by teams got automated by software.

As an example, i saw our own market data teams go from ~20 in 2006 --> 7 in 2010--> 2 in 2014 as more and more APIs and standardized software took over rote tasks like pulling market data, creating curves, etc. Other examples include Fax --> DTCC econfirm for operational work. Tear-ups for redundant contracts (e.g., TriOptima and other platforms.) Custom trade platforms per-firm cant compete in most cases to straight out of box Bloomberg POMS/AIM and again, technology made things more efficient.


>My shock is the dual narrative on "tech pays too much -- down with tech" "tech pays too little -- down with tech."

What's shocking about this? If you're uneducated and barely scraping by in LIC and Amazon moves in you have two problems: their low end jobs don't pay enough to improve your quality of life while their high end jobs are unattainable and will drive you out of the neighborhood. While Amazon might have been a net positive for the city it would have been actively harmful to a slice of the population. They spoke up.


> If you're uneducated and barely scraping by in LIC

LIC is already a 10m commute to midtown and home to nothing but shiny glass towers.


> NYC has really never recovered from the 2008 crash when ~500,000 well paying finance jobs were compressed/reduced/automated.

Can you expand on that, or provide a citation/link? It doesn’t ring true to me (a New Yorker who worked in finance in 2008), but I’d love to learn more.


Ok... I see that you edited rather than reply.

I'd be very interested if you could find that link.

Let me answer your anecdote with another anecdote: I worked for one of the banks that disappeared (Merrill), and it's not like they just locked the doors. Many, many employees (like me) just became workers at Bank of America. Even given extremely generous assumptions, your 500k number sounds off by at least an order of magnitude.

The statement "NYC has never really recovered" still doesn't seem right to me.


> Finally, that the exit of 25,000 high paying jobs could be seen as some sort of victory is also alarming. NYC has really never recovered from the 2008 crash when ~500,000 well paying finance jobs were compressed/reduced/automated. NYC needs those jobs and the ecosystem they would create.

NYC unemployment is like 4%. I don't think it's in need.


There is employment (96%) and then there is good employment. I'd argue the Amazon HQ2 jobs were good employment -- good salaries, benefits, training, etc.

I understand that too low unemployment (<3%) is bad since it constricts movement and creates inflation. However, aren't high paying high benefit jobs always a good thing?


>My shock is the dual narrative on "tech pays too much -- down with tech" "tech pays too little -- down with tech."

People can be upset that 1) developer salaries are large enough to disrupt the local real estate market, and 2) that fulfillment center and delivery positions are churn-and-burn jobs that are paid like shit.

Neither of those positions are contradictory.


  My shock is the dual narrative on "tech pays too much --
  down with tech" "tech pays too little -- down with tech."
  This reeks of false excuses
If my office was 35 Fahrenheit in the mornings and 100 Fahrenheit in the afternoon, would I be justified in complaining it was both too hot and too cold?


I get the spirit of your argument...and probably there is a "right" temperature. But what is the "right" salary -- if ~$150k is too high, what salary should Amazon give to their workers? Who decides? Should they also cut benefits just as an added way to reduce gentrification? What happens when someone gets promoted...do they get fired because their salary is too high now?

I understand the issue of gentrification is real. But this is the first time I've heard a progressive argument against good paying good benefits jobs -- usually the argument is that jobs don't pay enough and the benefits are too little (that can be regulated.)


> the exit of 25,000 high paying jobs

When did that happen?

> NYC has really never recovered from the 2008 crash

Um, what?


Anecdotal, but I'm a tech worker in NYC who was firmly against Amazon coming to LIC. I know many other people who were too. NYC tech isn't in trouble — people just want it to be A) ethical companies that B) support local communities and C) don't rely on corporate welfare.

I also don't really understand why AOC is being scapegoated for this — this wasn't her district and she's not a state or city politician anyway.


>>I also don't really understand why AOC is being scapegoated for this

Because she's being billed as a socialist boogieman by the media? She's extremely visible and vocal on the national stage that this whole HQ2 debacle has played out on. People in Seattle and DC don't know NYC's lower level politicians by name, and this is being billed as a national story because so many spurned cities and their populations have a viewing interest.

Had this been done differently, it would be a much smaller story covered by some segments of the tech media and local NYC publications with limited national coverage. In that reality, it likely would have been local community organizers and district pols being named in articles and scapegoated.


> I also don't really understand why AOC is being scapegoated for this —

For the same reason the purple-haired woman screaming into Logic Man's face fuels millions of "SJW cringe" video views.

AOC for many people is a symbol of "snowflake socialist millennials who want the world to be handed to them". This is a narrative that persists even when it is Amazon that pays no federal tax and demands extra concessions despite already being highly profitable.


It's weird to me that there's so much attention given to AOC. She has no hard power in domestic NY politics. She didn't stop the deal. State politicians threatening the permitting process stopped the deal.

If NYC has a problem it's with Byzantine building codes and zoning.


Google is in the midst of a large expansion in NYC. Amazon themselves are even still expanding in NYC, just not to the levels (and location) of the HQ2 plan.

NYC tech will be absolutely fine. It's still a very desirable place to base a company, and IMO people won't even be talking about the Amazon deal in a year's time. I mean, think about the level of resistance big tech companies face in San Francisco, or Seattle even. This is a pretty uniform thing.


I'm born, raised, lived most of my life (though not now), and still vote federally in NYC. As a NYer by almost any definition, I agree with AOC that this was a bad deal, and partly due to the influx of new people. Maybe not for her reasons.

Particularly, they picked a part of NYC where neither the housing market nor the neighborhood's transit infrastructure can handle that extreme rapid growth. The 7 and G trains would be overwhelmed, lots of residents would be priced out disruptively fast, etc.

They also don't need billions of dollars of subsidies from NY. They are among the most valuable companies in the world, already have an office in NYC, and will still be growing that.

By contrast, I have no problem with Google doubling it's NYC office from 7k employees to 14k, because it's in a different part of the city which can absorb that just fine in all regards. And no subsidies involved, as far as we the public have been made aware.

(Disclosure, I used to work at Google NYC for Google, but I really would be saying the same thing about the locations and growth plans if the company labels were swapped. I have no inside info on either company's real estate plans and don't work or speak for either now.)

You and I agree that the people who thought Amazon's NYC HQ would pay below living wage are misunderstanding - at least for directly employed workers. Not sure how their office contractors are treated, but I expect the answer would match whatever's true in Seattle.


The transit infrastructure argument is moot. Here's transit reporter Aaron Gordon making the case far better than I could:

> The G, 7, E, M, F, R, N, and W are all within a reasonable walking distance from the proposed HQ site. In the short term, Amazon will occupy one million square feet of 1 Court Square, which sits directly above…Court Square on the E, M, 7, and G lines (the other aforementioned lines are not far away). While they’re all crowded during rush hour and Court Square itself will strain under the ridership (but less so than during the L shutdown) the G and M have additional peak-direction capacity. Also, they’re all well below the current crowding levels on the L and 4/5.

Further, there’s good reason to believe many Amazon workers will follow non-traditional commuting patterns. For starters, a number of them will probably live within walking or bicycling distance from HQ2 given the housing construction boom in the neighborhood. For those who don’t, many will reverse-commute from Manhattan (Hudson Yards, the other NYC neighborhood experiencing a housing construction boom, is straight down the 7). For workers looking to commute from the suburbs, LIC has two LIRR stops, although they currently don’t have very attractive service patterns. Some might even choose to live in Metro North country, given that LIC is one stop on the 7 from Grand Central. It’s also worth noting that East Side Access service, which would bring the LIRR to Grand Central, is slated to begin in December 2022, making Long Island a more attractive option.

The point is not that any one of these options will be most attractive to future Amazon employees, but all of them will attract some and the load will be dispersed. This is the beauty of a robust, healthy transit network: it can absorb even the biggest of shocks.

40000 people across 8 lines with a bunch of countercyclical commuters is a drop in the bucket in NY transit.


Most of that sounds like it would have a hellish impact on the 4/5/6 line. I commuted to LIC In 2007-2008 from the Upper East Side, and that was already quite crowded then.

As for Hudson Yards, that commute isn't countercyclical at all until after it gets east of Grand Central. Whee more crowding.

Also, the NYC transit network hasn't been healthy since at least 2012, much to my chagrin when I returned there from the West Coast in 2013.


Which one is it?

The fact that some people may have been misinformed about one aspect of the issue (the number of fulfillment jobs) does not -- in any way -- diminish the perfectly legitimate concerns that others had about rising rents and displacement.

What if someone commuted from NJ?

The concern is not about commuters from the metro region.

But rather for the expect large numbers of transplants from many thousands of miles of way -- in exchange for massive subsidies positioned as "necessary" for the benefit of local job creation.


> since when did NYC become a country? Where could/couldnt workers come from -- would it be only from Queens? Would Brooklyn be OK? What if someone commuted from NJ?

This question is coming up because moves of this scale aren't common, especially in big cities. NYC is very densely populated, and affordable housing is already a huge issue.

Nobody worries about Foxconn hiring non-Ohioans because most people aren't going to want to move to Ohio to work for Foxconn.


This is such a ridiculously bad take. NYers were against Amazon for the same reason Seattle residents were against Amazon taking over SLU. Nobody wanted 15k gentrifying jobs in LIC, half a mile from the Queensbridge Projects. Nobody wanted 15k transplant yuppies who don't want to contribute to culture at all. Nobody wanted Greenpoint, Astoria, and Williamsburg to turn (even more into) a gross similacrum of the Mission, where all the black and brown people get kicked out in favor of boring ass FAANG employees who only leave their 3k a month railroads to go to Soulcycle.

NYC is still a tech town. But it's not _only_ a tech town. You don't have to only be one thing in order to succeed.


how are the yuppies not contributing to culture? we invented avocado toast.


The diversity of Seattle has increased with the number of Amazon employees:

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/data/seattle-is-le...


Racial diversity != economic diversity. I can see why you thought I meant that, and for that I apologize.


Note that by "nobody" you mean actually mean a majority of New Yorkers, according to polling. Only 35% of New Yorkers were opposed to the plan.


The anti-Amazon movement wasn't about hating Amazon specifically. The anti-Amazon movement was about the world's richest company and the world's richest secretly negotiating three billion dollars in subsidies with the governor.

New Yorkers have no problem with technology companies. Google just bought a third of the West Village. No one cares. The Times is running trend pieces about hapless Facebook employees moving from Palo Alto to the East Village and paying 7800 dollars in rent. No one cares.

One thing I'd encourage you to do is think of New York as a system instead of focusing on the storylines of the individual players. NY is a grossly corrupt city with a non-functioning democracy. The story of NY for the last two hundred years is a series of big companies making shady deals with the government to get big handouts while public infrastructure is failing, housing supply is unaffordable and neighborhoods get structured by real estate developers instead of people.

Unless the system attracts too much attention, it's mostly stable. That's why Google is on a multi-billion real estate buying spree and the subways have gone sixty years without signaling upgrades. The problem is that Amazon made a huge show out of their arrival and pushed for concessions beyond what their peers asked for. That created a lot of attention and organizers harnessed long standing grievances with the government and housing policy along with it to push Amazon out.


> At what point does someone who moves to NYC become a NYer?

10 years, or if you were here on 9/11.


Who gets to decide this 10 year magic number?



Amazon realized they need to be outside SF/NYC to keep out of the bubble.


This is, unfortunately, how popular/populist political movements tend to work.

First, agree on the enemy/problem. Then, work out why they're the enemy. This can be xenophobic: migrants, jews, black people, brown people, chinese people, etc. There have been massive popular movements against all these in recent history. They all followed this pattern.

Jews were simultaneously accused of being behind banks and capitalism and bolshevism. Migrants are almost always accused simultaneously accused of stealing jobs and living off the dole. Others chime in that they're destroying or diluting native culture.

It can be more abstract. The problem is capitalism, socialism, monopolies, "corporate greed," the monetary system... Everyone will have their own definition of whichever enemy emerges, and their own reasoning for why its the problem.

Those are extreme and indefensible examples. But, popular movements can also be right about things, while being irrational about reasons.

What we are when we gather politically is... not our best selves.

^btw: I don't know enough about the nyc-amazon affair to have an opinion. Also, not comparing anyone to Nazis.


The NYC tech sector is indeed growing quite strong and is also quite grounded in the realities of business because of the diversity of NYC’s overall economy. Few cities in the world have the economic diversity that New York does. That drives the mindset to be noticeably different, mostly in a good way.

At several meet ups recently the moderator wasn’t shy about warning Silicon Valley companies “I’d advise you to be clear about how you plan to make money and be profitable because if you don’t the audience here is just going to grill you on how you plan to make money and be profitable.”


The irony of this is that attitude has created pretty much zero startups that have transformed into sustainable, profitable, medium or large companies. While there have been a couple successful exits that later crashed and burned like Tumblr and Blue Apron, and a couple TBD like MongoDB and Jet (Wal-mart acquisition), many of the NYC startup IPOs and exits seem to be playing a game of hot potato by selling to the next sucker with completely veneer metrics. Having had an early stage startup in NYC, I would say there was way too much focus on "you need metric X to be Y right now" even if doing so was detrimental to getting something off the ground.

That said, NYC is a good environment for established tech companies opening large satellite offices like Facebook, Google, etc.


> that attitude has created pretty much zero startups that have transformed into sustainable, profitable, medium or large companies.

You are looking at modern day Amazon and comparing its profitability to startups, when Amazon itself consistently lost money every year until around 2004.


I just mentally built this list, but I have:

Here to Stay: Facebook, Twitter, Square, Netflix, Salesforce, Workday

Likely Strong Businesses: Airbnb, Stripe, Slack, Palantir, Twilio, Trade Desk (profitable), Zendesk, Automattic, Squarespace, One Medical, Juul

Profitable: Stitch Fix, Yelp, I'm sure there are others.

Maybe: Cloudera, New Relic, Dropbox, 23andMe, Robinhood, Plaid, Opendoor, Instacart

We will see, but big private valuations: Uber, Lyft, Pinterest, Coinbase, Instacart

Then for NYC I would have:

ZocDoc, Warby Parker, Classpass, and probably also Harry's, 1stdibbs, Lemonade, Compass, and Betterment. I'm sure I missed a few interesting ones, but I still think the current crop of SV companies established after 2004ish are on a different scale or tackling a bigger addressable market than the ones in NYC. Wallstreet is probably an even worse critic when a company is in its own back yard. I was at a Bloomberg event where the founder of Blue Apron was absolutely annihilated by the interviewer, and you could tell it was taking a toll on him mentally. Meanwhile, Evan Spiegel is in a similar situation and doesn't appear to have a care in the world out in LA.


Which is why it will never really be Silicon Valley. No risk, no reward. NY is too expensive for anyone to sit around and take risks, likewise, it will never see the real reward.


Implying Silicon Valley is affordable compared to NYC is silly.

The Californian "Try It" attitude is basically the equivalent of throwing shit against the wall while using other people's money. It works sometimes, but it's a terrible strategy that only works because VCs hit a unicorn that wipes out all the mistakes every so often.


> it's a terrible strategy that only works because VCs hit a unicorn that wipes out all the mistakes every so often

The "only" part of that doesn't actually invalidate the fact that it works. What you said is: it's a terrible strategy that has worked extraordinarily well.

It's a great strategy that has been shown to work across five decades of tech upheavel, precisely because it does pay for itself over time and keeps generating returns for institutional money. That it works so well is why it has all kept getting bigger as the positive results roll forward. It also produced the greatest concentration of tech dominance and invention the world is likely to ever see in one place.


Maybe it's time for some daring innovators to disrupt this rickety archaic model?


Your argument is that Silicon Valley is an economical place to do business relative to NYC and that New York, with its centuries long history of immigrants turning up with nothing and “making it,” don’t take risks? Tell me more. :-)


It is dramatically easier to live on a budget in the NYC metro area than anywhere in the Bay Area...


New York doesn't want to be Silicon Valley, though.

New York is an Alpha++ world city. When New York looks to compete with other cities, it competes with other Alpha++ and Alpha+ cities. New York doesn't even think about SV. It thinks about London, Hong Kong, Paris, Tokyo, etc.


Similar properties to those suburban bungalows where HP, Apple, and Google where founded are easily selling for $1.5 million now.

My Brooklyn apartment is about the same cost per sqft. I don’t have a yard but my access/commute to the metro core is much better.


What is this “real reward”? Housing is cheaper in NY (though certainly not inexpensive). Last I checked, we still have theaters, museums, clubs, etc too. Ok weather is a problem.


NYC has far better museums then SF.


I've been wanting to move to NYC for years. I love big cities, and since I was a kid I loved NYC. I went on holiday there a few years ago, and it only reinforced the idea of living there.

In practice, finding tech jobs as a Brit has been horrendous. I've applied for countless roles, including roles at all FAANG companies, startups crying out for people with my experience, and established medium-sized companies hiring (and offering sponsorship of work permits)...and nothing. Either immediate rejection, or emails saying "actually, we don't sponsor visas".

I don't know if this is an America thing, but I've had other companies more than happy to fly me over in other parts of the US California and Washington). Given how mixed the culture is in NYC, with so many immigrants throughout the city, I have been very surprised that it's so hard to get a job there.

This is purely from my experiences, and maybe it's just that all these companies hate me for some reason, but IMO you can't be a tech town if you're not willing to bring talent in, at least in the same ways other worldwide tech hubs will.


What kind of Visa sponsorship are you expecting? An L1 visa for transferring from an international company location to the US? That would rule out startups. An H-1B? That takes months, and has less than a 30% success rate. An O-1? Do you have documentation that would support "extra-ordinary" abilities?

An E-2 visa is kinda neat though--have you thought of taking matters into your own hands?

https://workpermit.com/immigration/usa/e2-visa-investors-and...


Isn't the low success rate for H1B down to how it is used for consultancy roles, whereas large companies looking for full-time employees tend to have a very high success rate for "straightforward" applications? If not, then why do the likes of Google and other FAANG companies even bother interviewing people?


So!

Like I said, the visas in play are, L1,O1,H1B

L1--a common option for large companies, that can accomodate having an employee first work in a European office, before moving them to a US based one. So perhaps you get hired, and you work in Zurich, or perhaps even Canada, for a year, before moving to the NY office. Also abused by large offshore consulting firms, who move employees between countries. Obviously, not an option for most companies.

O1--are you well known in your field? Published? Won awards? Print articles about you? Then you have a good shot at an O1. Possibly, FAANG have the ability to hire those top ~5% people disproportionately...

H1B--for "specialty" occupations. You HAVE to apply through a lottery (and be sponsored, etc). The applications are ONLY accepted first few days of April, for work that begins October 1 (six months later). Last year, 190,098 people applied. There were 65,000 regular openings, and 20,000 openings for people with Masters degrees.

After you get selected in the lottery (if you're not chosen, your application is returned, UNOPENED) your application is reviewed. Google etc. has about a 100% acceptance rate during review, body shops do much worse (it's basically a disqualification process..applicant is not sufficiently skilled/experienced/educated, doesn't have a job waiting for them, etc.)

https://news.bloomberglaw.com/daily-labor-report/it-consulti...

So the upshot--

Google wants you bad? They will work with their immigration lawyers (who are skilled, and do this routinely,) and Google may not care if it takes months or years to complete the process to bring you over to the US.

Small, or even midsize company company? A lot of overhead, and expense, and waiting, and it may not work out. Hence the lack of enthusiasm... (Caveat--already here on a legal work visa? Then lots of smaller companies would be happy to take it over.)


Thanks for the detailed post!

To be honest, I've always viewed the H1B visa as the "default", since it's the visa type associated with FAANG type interviews. As far as O1 goes, I'd be interested in how many developers make it over on a O1 visa to see where the bar is for being "known" in your field.

The L1 visa sounds interesting, though! I've looked at a few jobs in the UK where companies have offices in different cities, but I often get the feeling that few of them want to hire someone in their office when they have an eye on their sister office. As suggested in the other reply, banking sounds like a good idea, but the downside is that...you're working for a large company on (I assume) boring corporate stuff.


You can google for people's experiences with O1. You can move the needle a bit by writing articles and getting some awards...you can also apply for an O1 and H1B.


You might want to look at other corporates esp banks. There are usually lots of people moving from London to NY and back again.


Watching from afar, it seemed to me that the catalyzing event for NY's startup scene was the collapse of the banks. The big banks had a lot of very strong tech talent, for whom it was a huge financial risk to leave and join a startup (because the salaries were so high at the banks). It wasn't until the banks collapsed that that talent was released. Prior to that, NY had tech companies, like any major city does, but was not one of the leading centers on the east coast at all.


I remember raising money in mid-2004 and having VCs lose interest when they heard we were based in NYC. One offered to invest on the condition that we move to the Bay Area or Boston. Around the same time, post-9/11, a lot of the big banks were moving their engineering operations (at least, as much as they could), offshore or to cheaper parts of the US. It was difficult at the time to envision NYC becoming a real tech city.


One of the reasons for this is that NYC is very livable with a tech salary.

I’ve never been in the Bay Area, but here you can make just above $100k and live comfortably with a <60 mins commute to work. I know that because that’s what I do.

You won’t be able to buy a house and having a kid without a spouse with a similar salary may be tough, but for a single person it lets you enjoy the city and actually be able to save money.


You can do the same in the bay area. People who are complaining about how unaffordable the bay area is on six figure salaries are either wanting to be much closer than one hour from hot spots, owning a house, having a kid, or some combination thereof.


I think the point is that in NYC, you don’t have to be over an hour from the hot spots if you aren’t making lots of money. It is totally possible to live in Manhattan on 30 grand a year (hell, I’ve done it). To do so in San Francisco or the Penninsula would be much harder.


The point of the grandparent was that you could live "less than 60 minutes" from work on over 100k a year.

I don't doubt that someone can live in Manhattan on less than 30k per year -- my wife worked in nonprofit when we met and I saw lots of people she worked with managing to live in salaries that were half of what people on HN regularly decry as being effective poverty for the area. However, when you do a simple search for apartments for rent in Manhattan, studios are routinely around $2k/month.


People wanting to raise a family? How preposterous!


> People wanting to raise a family? How preposterous!

I know! People should be satisfied with the opportunity to change the world (and make me rich) at my startup. Asking for more is kinda greedy. /s.


If not one of those three things are indepdently attainable on a six figure salary, then yes, the Bay Area is massively unaffordable.


The bay area is certainly very high cost of living. But not massively different from New York, which is also very high cost of living.


New York is not a tech town.

It is a finance town. It is a marketing town. It is a fashion town. It has so many things that dwarf it's tech industry.

It's not a tech town, and I honestly don't expect it to become one.


Yeah, my sense is that tech in NYC is tech as an enabler of finance.


When a city is dominated by one industry, particularly finance, that can spell ruin for its inhabitants. Good for the wealthy and the people in the industry, mediocre for many others. Tech might smooth things out a bit, but there is no reason we need to give anything to a behemoth for coming here. Many are already make NYC home.

Although not the only one, NYC has some of the best universities, many top-tier companies, pools of talented people, and the best cultural amenities. There was no reason to kowtow to a behemoth to come here. NYC is big and innovative, and it will stay big and innovative for the foreseeable future. Tech was here before and will it be here after, without being dominated by a single company.


People forget that Bloomberg himself owns a major financial technology company.


One point, not mentioning if big companies like Amazon are a problem or not, is that this is a market with higher income, coming to a city with a very high living cost. So in my view these companies are moving to NY because they can afford paying employees that want to live in NYC.


I too am concerned that this point is often missed. The choice of where to live, for those who will find well-regarded (and paying) positions in any case, is one given as much weight as the organization for which one will work.


Part of the story with the rise of tech in NYC is that finance has become a large consumer of technology, data, and statistics. This helped create a talent pool that other tech companies could draw on.


I really expected this to be about a hacker movement and JOLT cola


Same. Jolt, apparently actually from New York [1], was the first hacker drink I learned about. The best one though, is the German Club Mate.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jolt_Cola



"The company’s leaders didn’t have high hopes, assuming all the best software engineers were in Silicon Valley. But they told him he could go ahead if he could find “Google-worthy” talent in New York" - Major city of couple million won't have "google worthy" talent.


makes you wonder how the south is transitioning


[flagged]


It's true, it's awful over here. We all work for banks and write java. Probably best if you stay in SF.


CA is the home of so many venture capitalists and hence Silicon Valley because non compete clauses are declared null and void in the State constitution.


Google? DoubleClick? Perhaps the more accurate headline would be: New York Became a Tech Town (Because SV Ran Out of Space and People)? Not a criticism, simply an honest observation.

But what industry doesn't have outposts in NYC? Why would we expect tech to be any different? Where is the story here? Where is the news?


DoubleClick was founded in New York.


I sit corrected. Thanks. None the less, don't cha think we need more than on such entity to declare "victory"?


New York is the most important city in the history of world civilization, this shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone.

Everything genuinely important in this country ends up run from New York City eventually. People forget the Rockefellers made their money in Cleveland.

But that aside NYC has always had a serious tech community since the electric grid was invented in lower Manhattan, or the transistor in suburban New Jersey.


That's a very US-centric world view, not shared by much of the rest of the world


I wouldn't even go that far. It's a NY centric world view. The rest of us outside NY (especially those whom moved from there) regard it as an outdated and overhyped.


> New York is the most important city in the history of world civilization, this shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone.

I wouldn't even consider New York to be the most important city in the history of the US, much less world civilization


Found the guy from Jersey! Kidding...

But, I agree. Obviously NYC is an important city, but to say it is the most important city in the history of world civilization is a bit outlandish and US-centric.


It seems like a very "New York" thing to say, though.

Everyone else in the US knows to enthusiastically agree, quietly raise prices by 40%, and wait to roll their eyes until after the New Yorker's back is turned.


Not a problem, we can afford it.


And even before that, the steamboat was invented here, the Manhattan project was called that because it was originally in Manhattan. Edison was over in Jersey and Tesla on Long Island. Republic had it's plant out on the island too where they built the LEM. IBM's Watson lab is just north of the city and Bell labs a bit west. New York has always been a tech hub but it wasn't as obvious since there was - and is - so much else going on.t


And lest we forget, it is where Jesus made its most infamous miracle, waltzing over the Hudson.


I love New York but I’m pretty sure if you consider the history of the world, London, Rome, Istanbul/Constantinople, and Jerusalem (maybe Beijing/Peking too) are almost certainly more important.


Agreed. One could maybe make a case for NY as pre-eminent city of the 20th century, but Rome held that title for at least 4 or 5 centuries. London maybe for 1 or 2 centuries (I'd say 18th and 19th). Maybe Madrid at the height of the Spanish Empire. From an Asian perspective, a case could be made for Beijing.


NY is like 400 years old.


You are funny. What you state isn't true for most of the world population currently, and certainly wasn't true through most of the mankind history for nearly every human that ever lived.

There are many aspects of this stupid topic, but for me personally I would rank Rome much higher when looking at the history. London too. And few other places. But this is highly subjective topic


That must be why Manhatten smells like poop and garbage in the summer.

When I was in NYC for an internship. I remember sitting in Central Park enjoying a warm humid breeze that smelled like being at a garbage dump. Blech.


> People forget the Rockefellers made their money in Cleveland.

We do? I mean, I live in Cleveland and grew up in Ohio, but this is surprising to me.


How on earth do you think we got Severance Hall? The Orchestra, the Art Museum, all those bougie old Tudors in Cleveland Heights?


> New York is the most important city in the history of world civilization

Uh huh. You and New York just keep telling yourselves that.


NY is not a tech town.

Google is not tech, it’s advertising. Amazon is a mail-order company. Uber is a taxi company. Stop calling “tech” technology. The revenue generated by those companies is not the technology itself.

A semiconductor fab, a satellite construction facility, a defense contractor; those are “tech”.

/rant


Language is forged by consensus, and consensus won that battle a long time ago.

Besides, that's an extremely narrow view of what those giant companies do. Cloud? Hardware? AI? Car/drone autonomy? Natural science research, even?


Semiconductor fab isn’t tech, it’s manufacturing. Satellite construction isn’t tech, it’s manufacturing. A defense contract isn’t tech, it’s an arm of the military.

If you define words however you want you can say whatever you want, but it doesn’t mean it’s worth saying.


They're all software companies. Software is "tech".




Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: