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Stanford Pulls Bid for New York Tech Campus (betabeat.com)
69 points by flahertyiv 1321 days ago | 49 comments



"we’re not exactly chomping at the bit to see New York squander its funding on students who spend their time building Star Wars simulations"

So, a New York based venture capitalist booster says that Stanford engineering students are "not tapped into the current tech scene", and ridicules that they know how to built robots.

Fascinating.

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Is that in the story? I can't find it.

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It's in this story, http://www.betabeat.com/2011/07/18/stanford-students-dont-wa..., which was linked.

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Oops, thanks, sorry about attributing to the wrong story, I must have just fluidly slipped into that other one.

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It wasn't said by a VC booster though. It was said by one of betabeat's writers.

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Maybe I'm wrong, my understanding is that betabeat is a NY tech advocacy site, their about page pretty much says that and admits they engage in boosterism. And it kind of follows that NY tech advocacy is pretty much all about the financing angle, hence my seeing their NY tech boosterism as fundamentally NY VC boosterism.

Anyway, I found the quote interesting and kind of highlights that there is something of an irreconcilable major cultural mismatch between the scenes on each coast, which may have been an issue with Stanford pulling out. I thing west coast entrepreneurs often don't realize the extent to which east coast people don't think the same at all about tech and business. As the author pointed out, he didn't see much value in Stanford seeding their point of view regarding technology and entrepreneurship to the east, he thought the greater value was in Stanford learning their perspectives about fashion and high finance instead. Those are things he sees as more valuable than using star wars metaphors for designing robots, not seeing that there is utility in research and research can sometimes be made fun. Star Wars is not the only influence on the west coast, there is also the very major influence of Star Trek devices on Apple's entire current business model since we've been seeing iPads on west coast produced TV programs since the 1980s and Siri since the 1960s. New Yorkers, as is evidenced by the comments, see that stuff as a bunch of stupid childish geek stupidity which they have contempt and disdain for. Getting bailouts, buying jet airplanes, and having servants are what proper adults should be interested in. Hah, I guess you can tell which coast I favor, I'm biased as well.

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A little over the top, no? You're quoting one dude.

MIT, not exactly a bastion of west coastism, also declined to bid for a campus in New York City. John Hennessy's Ph.D. is from SUNY for heaven's sake. I'm sure many people in California also enjoy "Seinfeld" and the New York Times without feeling like traitors, and nobody can doubt that NYC is sincere in wanting to emulate Silicon Valley's success in high tech.

In any event, a true east coaster from the right sort of family would know how to spell "champing at the bit."

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I'm not east coast but chomping is also correct and predominant in the US. Chomp dates back to 1645, champ to 1577. Both are centuries old. In the last 300 years chomp has been much more dominant. I suggest those interested peruse reputable dictionaries rather than rely on wikipedia and blogs as they are not authoritative sources.

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I suspect the insinuation was that said betabeat writer is a New York based VC booster. From his own bio:

Brooklyn born and bred. My writing on technology has appeared in the NY Times, Slate, Atlantic and Fast Company. Currently editor of this here BetaBeat.

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I think I misinterpreted the original parent. 'VC booster' might mean a VC who is a booster. It might also be a booster for VC money to NYC. Mine was the erroneous first interpretation.

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read it as a light-hearted dig, with a funny video of light saber fighting robots... touchy touchy

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Fun fact: Stanford President Hennessy is the same Hennessy who with Patterson wrote that great computer architecture book: Computer Organization & Design: The Hardware/Software Interface. Oh, he also co-founded MIPS

Although as my first job was doing MIPS related stuff I may be biased about usefulness of the book. Amusingly the first featured 5-star review on Amazon is from John Mashey whom older readers may remember from comp.arch on Usenet.

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I have that book!

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So does pretty much anyone who has taken a decent computer arch course :)

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That's good, I never thought Stanford made sense as a choice for NYC. Don't get me wrong, Stanford is an exceptional school, with great tech credentials, and has spawned a unique startup environment.

But the thing that makes the SF area great for startups is the proximity (and thus density) of startups and tech in general. While long-distance networking has come a long way, it's still no replacement. If NYC's goal is to build a stronger tech community, I think they're better off building their own East Coast tech culture vs. trying to import a culture from SF.

Disclosure: as a Cornell grad, I'm definitely biased and psyched about it getting more involved in supporting a tech community (a $350M donation didn't hurt either)

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Cornell received a $350M gift to build their campus. It looks like Stanford withdrew in response.

Source: http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/16/stanford-drops-...

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The Manhattan Project was so named because of Columbia's involvement. Yet somehow NYC never landed the geek culture, almost as if it is squeezed out by squishier disciplines.

Good call Stanford.

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Sad. It would be refreshing to get some west-coast culture to NYC.

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I ask sincerely, what is west-coast culture?

(I have lived in New Hampshire all my life.)

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The stereotypical San Franciscan gets up at 7am, wears business-casual to work, and his or her hobbies include biking and wine/food. The stereotypical New Yorker gets up at 9am, wears a suit to work, and his or her hobbies include alcoholism and chain smoking.

I'm joking, but only kind of. I spent this summer working in both NYC and the Bay area and it was like a night and day difference. NYC is so much more hierarchical, image conscious and anxiously intense.

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Hmm, the only people I know who wear suits are corporate lawyers and wall st folks. everyone else is probably more dressed up than san francisco, but that's because there's fashion industry presence in the city more than the requirements of their respective jobs. San Francisco is a beautiful small town.

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A fairly large department here at Google in MV has "business Fridays", where people dress up in suits for a laugh.

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I do enjoy generalizations.

Wall Street check. Biking check. Wine/Food check. 9AM wrong, but 8:30 is close enough. Suit wrong. Alcoholism wrong. Chain smoking dead wrong.

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He did say it was a joking generalization. Do you have a different joking generalization of what New Yorkers are like?

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Heh, it's funny how that matches my perceptions of the west coast as well. The only difference is in getting up at 7am--nobody at work gets there before lunch. Of course, it's a tech startup, but even the medium-sized (~600 people) enterprise software company had plenty of people coming in around 11-12.

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Here's my favorite example of how it's not really so different, at least among status-conscious people:

I live in California and work with someone who recently moved here from Baltimore. He's kind of an older gen-X guy, and he likes to go to thrift stores, buy old suits for < $10 and wear them ironically, like with dress shoes but ankle-length white socks and the sleeves pushed up, and the front end of the tie shorter than the back end.

Every few months, a manager will pull him aside and say in a trying-to-be-friendly way, "You know, you really don't have to wear a suit around here." To which he'll respond, "Yeah, I know, it's just my thing, man." And then there manager will stare at him a little harder and say something along the lines of, "No, I mean you really don't have to wear a suit around here." Eventually the manager gives up and writes him off as an incorrigible free spirit.

TL;DR The West Coast is a place where you can wear whatever you want to work, as long as it's a Hawaiian shirt.

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Huh. I thought the counter culture of suits was well understood. Though honestly, why would a suit have to be worn ironically in the first place? I love how suits look. Was I the only guy who watched Gattaca and found myself wishing that it were more socially acceptable to wear a suit to my job? ;) I wouldn't want to emulate much about that world, but man did they look good in their suits.

Anyway, I agree with you that the tech industry, especially in the west, rigorously enforces the presence of the absence of a dress code. Even PG said "Nerds don't just happen to dress informally. They do it too consistently. Consciously or not, they dress informally as a prophylactic measure against stupidity."

Bummer, cause I actually kind of like it when people dress with some style.

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I think he meant that the quirky individual was wearing frumpy "1980s English professor"-style suits, not some sleek expensive architectural thing.

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That's f'ing hilarious. I am an east coast person who has lived in California for 10 years now. One of my first comments about this place 10 years ago was:

"Wow they take being laid back VERY SERIOUSLY."

Your anecdote is a perfect illustration of that!

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Yeah, but he ended up being able to wear a suit anyway, right? Do you think the equivalent scenario of a guy wearing a Hawaiian shirt at a traditional law firm in DC would've worked out? Correct me if I'm mistaken, but I suspect our free spirited DC lawyer would have been forced into a suit at the end.

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That's true, but the partners at a DC law firm don't go around talking about how they're so <insert positive adjective of choice here> that anybody who want to can wear a suit to work.

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I think West Coast enforcement of dress codes is still the lesser of two evils. You can still wear what you want; you'll just be weird, as opposed to fired.

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I grew up in the north east and then relocated to the west. Almost without fail when I met someone new on the East Coast (especially NE), one of the first questions they would always ask is "where are you from?" I cannot recall ever being asked that as part of an introduction while I've lived out west.

In my experience there is a lot of focus in the northeast on where you come from, and what your background is. I've found out west (and I'm not even in the bay area) there's a lot more focus on where you want to go and what you can do.

And I think related to this, I've generally found people to be much more open and friendly. People are generally much more willing to let you into their social worlds than on the east coast.

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As someone who grew up on the east coast and migrated here for grad school, I have noticed that west-coast culture tends to be less judgmental, more free spirited, and more novelty-seeking.

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The State of New York has a notoriously dysfunctional state government run by a tiny cabal of powerful, albeit corrupt, legislators. The State of California has a notoriously dysfunctional state government run by the Californians.

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In my recent two-day visit to California from New York City I drove more than in the previous ten years, cumulatively.

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Personally, I thought it a bit of an odd idea based on the large geographic and cultural distances between Palo Alto and NYC. It just didn't seem like the right ecosystem for a transplant. On the east coast, even Boston would seem better suited from a cultural standpoint - there is much more of a public emphasis on technology.

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Surprising, given the amount of time it's taken to get to this point.

As a New Yorker myself, I'm not sure what I should think of it. Someone is going to make a campus, be it Cornell or NYU.

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Doesn't NYU already have a "New York tech campus", since the merger with Brooklyn Poly and its subsequent rebranding as NYU's engineering school?

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Surprising indeed. It seems strange that they would take the proposal this far before withdrawing for financial reasons, or fear of losing.

Surely there is a more interesting bone of contention here that didn't become evident until late in the process.

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Maybe the data from the online courses came in during the meantime and Stanford realised that they could grow the university exponentially without opening new campuses?

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Why not Columbia?

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Why not Columbia, indeed? As pointed out elsewhere in this thread, let's not forget where the Manhattan Project - an project that spanned multiple countries - got its name!

Columbia's always been a top-tier research institution - in fact, it has more Nobel laureates than any other university in the world. As far as computer science is concerned, let's not forget that a number of great achievements in tech & computer science (past and present) are the work of people who are or were in some way affiliated with Columbia. I can't find a comprehensive list at the moment - unfortunately the Columbia CS department website doesn't brag about itself enough for that - but it's not too hard to think of examples.

Columbia already has an engineering school (the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences). The school is known for the strength of its graduate and undergraduate programs - its selectivity rate for undergraduate admissions, for what it's worth, is lower than any other school in the country except MIT.

Is there room for improvement? Absolutely - I can think of a number of ways. But the tech scene in New York is young and looking to grow quickly. It makes more sense to me to take advantage of the tremendous resources already here and amp them up, rather than start from scratch.

Unfortunately, for reasons that are more political than they are logical, I'd be surprised if Columbia actually won this contest. But it would be a pleasant surprise, knowing that they made the right decision.

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Because they're already building a new campus in West Harlem. Bloomberg's competition would just add more goodies.

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It's interesting how schools expand their reach to the other coast. CMU has a SV branch and Wharton has SF.

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I really don't see Bloomberg standing on stage announcing a choice with anyone else but Stanford. He would consider it a personal failure and embarrassment. The project is basically dead at it's original scope. Maybe something much smaller will be announced but it will be low key and with a deputy mayor filling in.

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Too bad. I thought the Roosevelt Island renderings looked pretty cool.

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Maybe now Stanford and MIT can consider a merger ^_~ j/k

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Someone offered a $350,000,000 gift to Cornell, at which point Stanford decided to drop out.

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