Matt Turck has penned a “State Of The City” post about where the NYC tech ecosystem is right now. I get asked this question all the time and I haven’t been doing a great job of answering it. I will use some of Matt’s work the next time that happens.
Here’s some of my favorite points from Matt’s post. If you live and work in the NYC tech ecosystem, or care about it, you should go read the whole thing.
NYC as a leading AI Center:
The New York data and AI community, in particular, keeps getting stronger. Facebook’s AI department is anchored in New York by Yann LeCun, one of the fathers of deep learning. IBM Watson’s global headquarter is in NYC. When Slack decided to ramp up its effort in data, it hired NYC-based Noah Weiss, former VP of Product at Foursquare, to head its Search Learning and Intelligence Group. NYU has a strong Center for Data Science (also started by LeCun). Ron Brachman, the new director of the Technion-Cornell Insititute, is an internationally recognized authority on artificial intelligence. Columbia has a Data Science Institute. NYC has many data startups, prominent data scientists and great communities (such as our very own Data Driven NYC!).
NYC as a home to “deep tech”:
Finally, one trend I’m personally particularly excited about: the emergence of deep tech startups in New York. By “deep tech”, I mean startups focusing on solving hard technical problems, either in infrastructure or applications – the type of companies where virtually every early employee is an engineer (or a data scientist).
For a long time, MongoDB was pretty much the lone deep tech startup in NYC. There are many more now. A few of those are in my portfolio at FirstMark: ActionIQ, Cockroach Labs, HyperScience and x.ai. But there’s a lot of others, big and small, including for example: 1010Data (Advance), BetterCloud, Clarifai, Datadog, Dataminr, Dextro, Digital Ocean, Enigma, Geometric Intelligence, Jethro, Placemeter, Security ScoreCard, SiSense, Syncsort or YHat – and a few others.
The Diversification and Broadening of NYC’s Tech Ecosystem:
One way of thinking about New York’s tech history is one of gradual layers, perhaps something like this:
- 1995-2001: NYC 1.0, lots of ad tech (Doubleclick) and media (TheStreet)
- 2001-2004: Nuclear winter
- 2004-2011: NYC 2.0, a new layer emerges around commerce (Etsy, Gilt) and social (Delicious, Tumblr, Foursquare), on top of adtech (Admeld) and media
- 2012-present: NYC 3.0 – in addition to the above, just about every type of technology covering just about every industry
Certainly, the areas that put NYC on the map in the first place continue to be strong. New York is the epicenter of the redefinition of media (Buzzfeed, Vice, Business Insider, Mic, Mashable, Bustle, etc.), and also home to many great companies in adtech (AppNexus, Tapad, Mediamath, Moat, YieldMo, etc.), marketing (Outbrain, Taboola, etc) and commerce (BarkBox, Birchbox, Harry’s, Warby Parker, etc.).
But New York has seen explosive entrepreneurial activity across a much broader cross-section of verticals and horizontals, including for example:
- Fintech: Betterment, IEX, Fundera, Bond, Orchard, Bread
- Health: Oscar, Flatiron Health, ZocDoc, Hometeam, Recombine, CellMatix, BioDigital, ZipDrug
- Education: General Assembly, Schoology, Knewton, Skillshare, Flatiron School, Codecademy
- Real estate: WeWork, HighTower, Compass, Common, Reonomy
- Enterprise SaaS: InVision, NewsCred, Sprinklr, Namely, JustWorks, Greenhouse, Mark43
- Commerce infrastructure: Bluecore, Custora, Welcome Commerce
- Marketplaces: Kickstarter, Vroom, 1stdibs
- On Demand: Handy, Via, Managed by Q, Hello Alfred
- Food: Blue Apron, Plated
- IoT/Hardware: littleBits, Canary, Peloton, Shapeways, SOLS, Estimote, Dash, GoTenna, Raden, Ringly, Augury, Drone Racing League
- AR/VR/3D: Sketchfab, Floored
I like the NYC 3.0 moniker. It’s a very different place to start and invest in tech companies than it was even five years ago. Bigger, deeper, broader, and scaling nicely. Just like the companies themselves.