Talent and Bandwidth

When people ask me what the city and state government can do to help the technology driven startup community in NYC, I tell them two things.

First, there is not one tech ecosystem. There is the software, internet, digital media sector which is thriving and on a tremendous growth spurt. And then there are the biotech, bioengineering, materials science, and energy sectors. These sectors are languishing in NYC with very little commercial activity given how much research and science goes on in the city.

I don't work every day in the latter category and I don't have much advice for how to stimulate these sectors commercially, but I do know that much must be done.

I do work every day in the former category and I have some advice for how to continue to stimulate the sectors that are working. I would focus on two areas; talent and bandwidth.

NYC has a tremendous workforce advantage over most any other city in the world. With one exception. There is a dearth of well educated engineers coming into the workforce every year in NYC. We have a large exisiting workforce of engineers, but they are in high demand and there are scarcities in NYC like those that exist in the bay area. Talented engineers are expensive and are always being recruited away from companies.

So the obvious answer is to develop ways to bring engineers right out of school into the local workforce. One way to do that is to develop strong engineering programs here in the city. The Bloomberg administration has announced an initiative to do that. I am very supportive of that effort. But that will not be enough. We also need to support our existing educational institutions, like NYU, Columbia, Fordham, CUNY, etc, etc.

And we need to start recruiting newly minted engineering grads to come to NYC to start their career. If you are a 22 year old man or woman just starting out in life, would you rather live in suburbia and work on a campus or would you rather live in Williamsburg and work in Flatiron? I think the answer to that is obvious. We just aren't making that case to the best and brightest engineering grads. There are emerging programs, like HackNY, that need our support, both financial and emotional, to do this work. It is critical. Charlie O'Donnell has put forth a challenge to bring 250 new software developers this year to NYC. I think that's a good start but I'd like to see a bolder number, like 1000 a year, or even more.

The other area is bandwidth. I mean data bandwidth. I mean fiber to every school, institution, business and home in the five boroughs. Other localities have built community owned fiber networks. A good example is Lafayette Louisiana. NYC needs to do this and it needs to do this now. The fiber plant should be owned by us, the citizens of NYC, not some company that will charge us a fortune for using the network and potentially restrict what we can do on the network.

There is a company I know of that is one of the most exciting new startups in NYC. They are locating their new office in the emerging area in Brooklyn between DUMBO, Fort Greene, and the Brooklyn Navy Yard. This is a cool new neighborhood that could be home to a lot of startups looking for great workspaces at low rents. But there is no commercial grade Internet service in this neighborhood. TIme Warner Cable wants this young startup to guarantee them $80,000 in revenues so they can afford to dig up the street and lay the cables.

That is nuts. We need to wire up this city from Staten Island to the Bronx, from Harlem to Rockaway Beach. And we need to own this fiber plant and we need it to be the best in the world.

These two moves will do it. We have everything else we need. We have the capital to fund startups. We have the real estate to house them. We have the legal, accounting, marketing, and other service providers. We've got it all. We just need talent and bandwidth to keep it going. Bring it on.

#NYC#VC & Technology#Web/Tech

Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    “We need to wire up this city from Staten Island to the Bronx, from Harlem to Rockaway Beach.”I’m behind this completely. This would create a magnet for innovation. We’ve got the world’s stage, we just need to wire it with power!Sound a bit Woody Guthrie Fred, but it also rings very true!

    1. fredwilson

      every inspiration comes from another inspirationwoody is an inspiration to me

      1. awaldstein

        I’m with you both with Woody as a personal hero and the power of positive vision to inspire change.On a practical note, if there is a way to help push the Wire NYC cause, I’m in. Simple but big idea will drive huge change that I’d be proud to lend myself to.

        1. fredwilson

          I’m pushing hard on private channelsThis is my first public missiveI will keep you in mind if we need help

  2. David Semeria

    For people living outside of the U.S. it seems very odd you guys don’t have fast internet in many parts of your major cities.

    1. ShanaC

      I don’t know how the Italians are dealing with this issue, here in the US in major cities we have a digging up stuff to recreate infrastructure problem. It’s the main reason why we’re not massively disturbing people to recreate the subway in ny even though long term it would be extremely beneficial.

      1. David Semeria

        You don’t necessarily need to dig up the street. Just pull the fibre (sic) through existing conduits.When the World Went Mad around 1999, masses of dark fibre was laid all over the world – most of it was for backbones, but a lot went into cities.

        1. fredwilson

          i’d like the world to go mad in that way a bit more

          1. David Semeria

            If it’s any help, Milan was one of the first cities to embrace fibre. A startup called Fastweb partnered with a local utility (AEM) to lay a purely TCP/IP based local loop.Their solution was so fast and cost-effective, it forced the incumbent (Telecom Italia) to do the same.

          2. calabs

            Great case study, David. Do you have a link?Getting a lot of case studies, especially from foreign places, would do a lot to shame/motivate our government to actually DO something. It would also be good to get some case studies of bureaucrats getting absolutely *punished* for stonewalling.

          3. David Semeria

            Fastweb is a peculiar story, they raised around $3bn in the First Bubble with the aim of bringing fibre to the home (FTH) in Italy’s most densely populated cities.Cleverly, they partnered with a local utilities which gave them access to the conduits. This made it relatively cost-effective to install the local loop, but they spent a small fortune installing fibre-to-UTP routers in many apartment blocks.Ultimately, Fastweb was betting against advances in ADSL. This bet failed and a few years later they abandoned their FTH strategy.Nevertheless, the simplicity and elasticity of their local loop infrastructure forced the incumbent (and other players) to follow suit. It just makes so much sense to run POTS over TCP/IP rather than the other way round.I don’t have a link to a specific case study, but if you Google analyst reports for Fastweb (or E.Biscom as they were originally called) I’m sure you can get some background.BTW, if I’m not mistaken Fastweb/E.Biscom modelled its approach on what the city of Stockholm had done previously.

          4. Carl Rahn Griffith

            We need more Boldness, Leadership and Confidence.So much bloody pessimism and cynicism over recent years – suppresses so much talent and growth. Utterly negative.You get what you wish for, typically – Good, Bad or Indifferent.Let’s Chose Good!

    2. Nancyjpt

      fast internet comes after foiling little men wearing sheets and bomb-shoes.

  3. RichardF

    The far east is so far ahead of the West in terms of fibre deployment. They see it as a long term investment in the future, something the Western mind seems to struggle with.

    1. fredwilson

      Not this western mind

  4. Donna Brewington White

    Of course, I appreciate that Charlie recognizes that “skilled recruiters” may be part of the solution to the talent challenge. However, it sounds like this is more than a recruiting issue, but also — and perhaps even more so — a marketing issue. Obviously, the solution must be multifaceted.

    1. fredwilson

      Its a marketing issue for the most part

  5. DonRyan

    So in the last paragraph are you suggesting the city lay the fiber or the incumbents (TWC) do the work. I can’t see TWC doing it because, like every public corporation, they are short-term driven (quarterly numbers). I don’t think the city will do it either because of the financial commitment involved. How do you go about convincing a company (TWC, Comcast, Verizon) to make this massive investment? I think until that question is answered the US will continue to lag behind the rest of the world when it comes to broadband distribution and upload/download speed.Having said all of that, your premise is spot on. New York is a magnet for the best and brightest. This should be encouraged.

    1. fredwilson

      No way do I want the incumbents to do this. I see this as a publicinvestment like the Erie canal and the subway system

      1. ErikSchwartz

        I do not believe the subway system was originally built as a public investment. Interborough Rapid Transit Company was a private company as was Brooklyn–Manhattan Transit Corporation.Edit…OK, so I checked further, the city built the tunnels and leased them back to the IRT.

        1. fredwilson

          exactly, the subway system is a really good model for what i am talking about

  6. kidmercury

    lol, i love posts like these…..as the municipal bond crisis unfolds these types of requests without consideration for the budgeting aspects will be viewed in a different response. this comment is just something i can link to in the future so i can say i told you so.btw, how ya’ll liking that MTA hike? my favorite part is for those who buy the monthly pass, who are presumably NYC natives…..a 17% hike!!! 17%!!!!!!!http://abclocal.go.com/wabc…MTA had to raise rates for its budget deficit. good thing the city doesn’t have a budget deficit. or the state. or the country. or the world.oh wait a second…..

    1. JimHirshfield

      Dude, gotta have bandwidth in the subway tunnels – in the form of wireless. Ergo, rate hike? Maybe I’m wrong and the private sector is footing this bill.

  7. JimHirshfield

    We’ve got incubators, co-working spaces, and cool start-ups in NYC where young techies can work and evolve professionally. But what about outside of work hours? Yes, NYC has everything a 22 year old could ever want (and then some). But I ask, is NYC and/or the tech community marketing this city to 22 yr old engineers? Should we have “residential incubators” – aka dormitories – where young like-minded and cash-strapped entrepreneurs-in-residence (literally, *residence*) can share resources, build camaraderie, and a social network (no, I mean offline social). Or does this just delay growing up?

    1. fredwilson

      the young adults i know don’t want to live in dorms

    2. Andrew Wong

      Ha, it’s funny you mentioned that. I know a friend who works at the Varick Street incubator. He usually leaves after 1 am in the morning. So to him, incubator = dorm. I actually agree with a lot of folks here. I think companies should provide incentives and make resources available to engineers, such as housing and places techies and geeks can hang out outside of work. I had lunch today with a Startup founder and he mentioned he’d like to move back to the West Coast again sometime in the future (he is doing his fourth Startup now) simply because resources there for Startups are abundant. In any case, there is a lot to be done to make NYC the place we all desire. I simply like the fact that this article narrows it down to two simple facts.

  8. Elia Freedman

    “we need to start recruiting newly minted engineering grads to come to NYC to start their career.”Is you assumption that there are already companies to support these engineers, Fred, or is your assumption that they will be recruited and come to New stork and magically they will build companies and have jobs in their field? Strikes me as a chicken and egg problem. Without the high quality engineers you can’t build great companies but without the growth companies there is no incentive for the great engineers. How does that get worked through?

    1. fredwilson

      we have plenty of companies to work for. there were as many software/internet/digital media companies started in NYC last year as in SF and SV. each location, NYC, SF, and SV produced almost an equal amount of new companies in this sector last year

      1. Elia Freedman

        That’s exciti news for NYC! Aren’t these companies attracting qualified engineers then? I don’t mean to be rude but I have been curious about this issue for my own community for years now. What is your expectation from the NYC government to help attract these qualified engineers if the companies themselves are unable to do it?

        1. andyswan

          Might I suggest they could simply “Get out of the way”?

          1. kidmercury

            how dare you andy. one more comment like that and i’m calling homeland security.

          2. Tereza

            I just wrote a very long post. I don’t see this as a government role at all. I think it’s an industry role.The action is to reach into the best talent that already has a tie here. Start in High School. Need to connect kids to the ‘coolness’ while they’re impressionable.I just don’t think what the government could do here is very meaningful at all.

          3. calabs

            Tereza, I normally enjoy your posts, but this is wrong. Ideally, the government would provide bandwidth to all citizens: bandwidth would be as available as air.The government, however, is largely incapable. It didn’t always used to be this way, and it doesn’t have to be that way now. When The New Deal began in 1933, FDR managed to put 4 million Americans to work in *3 months*. Whatever your position on Keynsian economics, you have to admit that it was impressive outcome, and we at least got *something* for our money – we got some things that would have been impossible to get otherwise, like an interstate highway system that continues to more than pay for itself today, more than 70 years later.The real problem with government is *us*. We treat government like a nasty problem that we don’t really want to deal with. We can’t accept that government incompetence is American incompetence – we are a culture which has forgotten how to actually do things. This is largely the fault of people like Guy Kawasaki, who’s “passive income” mantra has convinced people that if you build things for a living that you are a loser, and indeed, have already lost.Government is populated with people just like us, who largely don’t know how to build things. And then people wonder why the government is so bad at giving us value for our money! What do you expect when you give an Art History major or a lawyer $1B to build a high-speed rail? You get a whole lot of delegation and not a lot of doing.But what if you got someone like Fred to head up the bandwidth effort, in a government role? New York, first of all, would be lucky to have him spend his time like that – it would be nothing less than philanthropy. Not entirely altruistic, because if he succeeded, it would be one hell of a legacy.

          4. Tereza

            Hey Calabs — my ‘government get out of the way’ sentiment was focused on the talent side.So for talent, it’s because i believe if a place is attractive to the best and the brightest, it’s because the best and brightest work is happening there. And for that to take root and be sustainable, I think it has to come from industry.On the other hand — the bandwidth/infrastructure — that to me is a very legitimate role for “the government=us”. That’s akin to roads and the like. A public good.And if Fred has the desire and wherewithal to take on the role spearheading that, I think that would be superb.What I don’t like is the government trying to pick the business winners, because I don’t think they have a very good track record at it.Sorry I wasn’t clear.

          5. calabs

            Oh, well, I’m with you then. I’m a lot softer on the “talent” part of Fred’s equation, mainly because it is a zero-sum problem: there is a finite amount of talent, and while there is some benefit in concentrating talent in one place, there’s no reason why any one locality should benefit. Certainly I would resent my taxpayer dollars being spent just to move talent from one place to another! That’s not creating talent, that’s moving talent around.

          6. Tereza

            Yeah i just had my knickers in a twist in that we frankly birth and educate a sh*tload of very bright people whose parents are a commuter train ride away and would love to have opportunities to meet the other very bright kids.I just think high school is an accessible time to pull them into the local startup culture. They may learn code in school — but we learn startups by *doing* startups.I’m sure lots of our readers were very talented at something or another as high schoolers and maybe made All-State this or that or Nationals something or other. Anyone who’s experienced that knows the opportunity to see your peers, who are at a ‘level of play’ higher than what you see in your daily life, is highly motivating.BTW there could also be interesting ‘exchange programs’ with scholarships for kids from other countries to stay the summer locally and hack. Our local kids would see how damn good + motivated those kids are. Also eye-opening!

          7. uno

            I believe that is an “American” myth. In reality “utility” type services can be undertaken for a much better consumer value / cost ratio then private business.Do some research and you will fnd out that even in America, government run utility type services often out-perform the private sector. Yes there are exceptions on both side.ISP could very well make sense run as a utility.The absolute worse model is a quasi-government regulated / private monopoly wihich is the goal of many private US firms….a license to print cash.For example, cable compaines that have a monopoloy on certain locations, state where there is only one or two health insurance company “allowed”, Federal reserve banks (boy I’d like to start one of those, LOL)

          8. Tereza

            What I wrote was misleading, I was focusing on government not having much value to add on the marketing to attract talent side of fred’s post. That I think is better done by industry and generally govt will eff it up.As for infrastructure what you say well may be true. I don’t really have much enlightening to add to that side of the convo.

          9. uno

            Andy, I would agree – with no government intervention salaries of software engineers in America would be up there with Lawyers starting at $150 per hour……or my BMW mechanic that charges $150 per hour.The government is heavely involved already in helping American tech firms bring in overseas tech talent at cheap prices through H1-B visa programs and educations programs.No opinion on if it is good or not, just saying that that the reason we have an engineering shortage is because the government is involved – the last 20 years has basically been a trend against labor and for management – hence all talented Americans go into management (MBA) and none in labor (enginering).

        2. uno

          Elia, the typical expectation from government is to lower visa requirements so we can birng more cheap software engineering labor into Amerca. Not many talented American kids would be advised to go into an industry that has a 5 year pay and career ceiling as software engineering does.If companies really had a “shortage” then they would offer training programs to teach people to program as IBM used to do. Much cheaper to lobby the government uptick the visa programs and for the government to fund software education. This is done through scholarships to funnel immigrant kids that can’t afford college into engineering.How many kids in NYC Investment Bankers or Lawyers do you know that go into software engineering at Columbia? LOL!

      2. uno

        Fred, how about a survey of starting salary offers in NYC from digital media / Internet companies?I can easily find you a TON of .NET or LAMP engineers tomorrow if you are willing to pay $150 per hour (including paid overtime if evenings or weekend work is required).My BMW mechanic in NJ charges $150 per hour for labor, they probably charge $200 / hr in NYC and a no $100,00K Columbia engineering school dedt required. I think it costs 10-20K to become a certified BMW mechanic. LOL.

        1. fredwilson

          the BMW mechanic does not get equity thoughnot even google is paying $150/hour in cash compwhen you add in the value of the RSUs, they may well be paying more than that

  9. ErikSchwartz

    I do not want to see the city get into the ISP business.That said I propose this:TWC wants a guarantee return on an investment of $80K to dig up the street so hopefully this one company and many more like it will revitalize a neighborhood.The city pays the $80K. TWC will pay the city a percentage of the revenues generated from the infrastructure they funded until the payments reach 2X the original investment at which point TWC owns the cable free and clear.TWC gets their infrastructure capex funded. NYC gets a neighborhood revitalized and its tax base improved. A bunch or startups get a new home.

    1. fredwilson

      i am not suggesting the city get into the ISP businessi am suggesting they wire every home, office, and institution and make that fiber plant available to any ISP who wants to provision services on itthat is essentially how the NYC subway system was built and it is a model for what we need to do for our next stage of growth here in NYC

      1. Jake Howerton

        “i am suggesting they wire every home, office, and institution”What do you think being an ISP business is? Who is going to maintain the fiber, provide tech support, dispatch technicians to make repairs? Using the subway system as an example of what our internet infrastructure could be like is horrifying.I am all for community owned fiber, but the only way it could realistically work in NYC is if block associations were formed to build it and have multiple medium haul providers come to the edge of a block or neighborhood to provide service. Then the community actually owns it instead of a newly formed “Metropolitan Fiber Transit Union” or some such BS. There could be competition for maintenance contracts, etc. There are many commercial ISPs(100s) in NY who have essentially done similar things within buildings by utilizing Verizon’s fiber infrastructure already.

      2. paramendra

        Freeing up the bandwidth might be another option. But then that’s federal.

  10. William Mougayar

    Do any of the NYC universities offer a co-op program? Basically, the student alternates between a study semester (4 months) and a work term (4 months) where they get paid a reasonable salary. That would encourage more students to come to NY and study because they can also make good money while studying. And if the government wants to help, they can offer to subsidize part of that salary, so it makes it really affordable.Look at the University of Waterloo who has gotten that program to a T. They take career placement and recruitment very seriously. They work with all the neighboring tech companies closely. Everybody wins: startups recruit and pay affordable rates, students get experience, universities get more students that way, & the government helps.

    1. ShanaC

      No, none of the engineering schools in this area seem to offer Coops. Which would help a lot in numerous ways

    2. fredwilson

      the waterloo program is a model to copy, not just in NYC but everywherethey nailed it

    3. bsiscovick

      +1. We have seen fantastic engineers come out of Waterloo, all of whom got their start with the study/work program.Engineering is an applied art learned best by doing. Classrooms may help lay the foundation, but the education is far from complete without the critical work part.

    4. JLM

      Actually, co-op programs in engineering are quite common. They usually are focused after the second year of study because the first year of engineering is primarily math and only after the second year does an “engineer” know any engineering.I studied civil engineering and while there was no formal co-op program, I always got a damn good job working construction in the summer time. When I could run a transit and level and set forms square and other simple engineering disciplines, I started to make some damn good money.The guy who owned the construction company was a civil engineer and when he drove up one day and saw me setting up the transit and level and checking the forms for “square” I suddenly got a lot more work.Of course I got paid a lot less than the engineers but I got some damn good experience.

  11. gorbachev

    I’m wondering why you didn’t include reducing the cost of living in NYC to improve the talent pool?I know 22-year-olds don’t necessarily understand that $1K / month rent with three roommates in a dog house sized apt while getting $100K annually with the New York City taxes and other expenses isn’t quite the same thing as $600 rent for three times bigger apt/house at $75K in a state with no income tax, but they’re going to figure it out at some point.

    1. fredwilson

      you get what you pay for. if you want to meet, date, eat, drink, and party with lots of other like minded young adults, then you have to pay a little more for it.

      1. Sarah Moran

        I’m from Australia, I’m 26 and will live in a dog house sized apartment with 22 year olds and ridiculous rent – the adventure calls to most of us because it’s a life investment. You get what you live for.

        1. carlystrife

          Amen to that! It’s a worthwhile investment to live in a city of opportunity

      2. Carl Rahn Griffith

        You can also do all that in our Yorkshire village, Fred.Caveat: The gene pool is somewhat limited, however 😉

      3. kenberger

        Hmm, can’t agree w/ that as currently worded.I’ve heard all too often the argument that they’d get all of that, much cheaper, by staying in Gainesville, Austin, or even the Stanford campus…(I also just commented separately on the recruiting work/oppty we now have).

      4. Nancyjpt

        You mean vicious competitive nasty frenemies of a feather who flock together.

        1. fredwilson

          i don’t understand why you are so cynical about life in NYCit’s wonderful

      5. paramendra

        Yeah. It’s about all the people you meet in the city. Not the size of your apartment.

    2. Frymaster

      “…reducing the cost of living in NYC…”Lolz. That’s a good one.

      1. scyphers

        Perhaps, but it’s a non-trivial issue for quite a few people graduating from college. If you’re saddled with college loans and just graduating from a college in a smaller/cheaper place (say, Carnegie-Mellon), the idea of paying $1200 a month for a room

        1. scyphers

          And I hit post too soon.$1200 a month for a room (http://www.metroroommates.c… as a quick example) when you’ve been paying $200 is a big mental leap to make. Not to mention everything just costs more in NYC.So, if I’m a recent CS grad and I have two job offers — one in NYC and one in Chicago — Chicago may win out because the lower cost of living will allow me to build my personal capital faster (save & buy a house, invest in stocks, etc.) even with the lower salary that will go with the lower cost of living.I know that as a business owner, I’d rather hire high quality people who do not live in large cities because I can get access their talent at a much lower rate than the ones who live in major metro areas. And if I can get an Apache commiter who lives in KY (just as an example) for about 60% of what he would command in DC, I can pay him a 20% premium for his area and still come out ahead.

          1. fredwilson

            i’d like a shot at that young man or womani am certain i can get them to NYC if you give me a shot at them

        2. Frymaster

          I should out myself. I live Providence, RI, and I think there are a lot of “value metros” out there that offer various angles on careers and entrepreneurship. This is one. Portland, OR is another. I don’t have enough street-level details about Philly and B-more, but they smell like the same.The key factors are as listed in the main post, just scaled down.- Talent, generally centered around higher education- Communications infrastructure, aka bandwidthTo make up for natural disadvantage of _NOT_ being NYC, SF or SV value metros also need:- Human connectivity, not just people but connected, social people- Geographical connectivity to other metros, as Acela links PVD, PHL and BMO to NYC, BOS, DC and each other- A distinct culture or nicheProvidence, as it were, gave us a double dip in higher ed with both an Ivy Leaguer and the world’s most famous design school. The latter, RISD, skews the city strongly towards creativity and the arts, which actually drives the entrepreneur cluster. All work and no play, etc.Probably the ultimate expression of this is a fellow I know who’s both an engineer working in a start-up that makes the most awesome window-mounted air conditioner EVAH and also plays glockenspiel in the #2 punk-rock marching band in town. (Honestly, you can’t make this stuff up.)Our Maker community is strong, with Brian Jepson living here and all… We’re only now revving up the commercialization engines.The “value” part, of course, is that I could by a 4 bedroom Victorian w/ servants quarters on the 3rd floor (apartment) for around $250k. Pricey drinks are $8.50. Rents have fallen back to around $400 – 450 / bedroom on average.So, yeah, NYC. You’re pretty awesome. But there’s other ways to skin that cat.PS, FW. The train does stop up here, you know…

          1. JLM

            You make a lot of sense, how dare you! LOL

          2. gorbachev

            I used to live in the historic district of Providence, RI for some time a while back. Paid roughly half what I did in Manhattan for a room in a house built in the 1800s (fully renovated inside) and was within stone’s throw from what you just talked about. Great place.

      2. Carl Rahn Griffith

        Cheaper than London.

  12. ShanaC

    I was dating an engineer (civil) and he enjoyed living in the suburbs (he liked to garden and build furniture and was a quiet guy otherwise) I think we need to make efficient public transportation system for this metro area so that people can choose where to live. (I mean, I would like to live on the East side, but that’s me, not everyone I know) I have another friend who is going back for the masters in bioengineering – the job market here isn’t great because people like him apparently need large(r) lab spaces.And I would personally crack up if somehow I ended up in Rockaway Beach…As for the engineers – it may sound like a strange thing to say, but there needs to be a more stable (other) engineering job market here that pays comfortably so that there are jobs to leave in order to create new jobs. That, and a strong professorship willing to work together. and getting NYU’s comp sci program out of the math departments hand (not the first time I have seen that.)

  13. Frymaster

    Somewhat surprised that I don’t see the initials BTOP in the bandwidth discussion. The Broadband Technology Opportunities Program – currently in its first round with money for 45 states – is designed to bring giant fiber connections to “community anchor institutions” like public schools, public safety, research univs, libraries, etc.This is what NY state got.

  14. Robert Owens

    okay so what not just live in the suburbs and do the job telecommuting? With the growth of technology why not just let them live where they want and do the job that they are paid for? 24/7 is heaven.

    1. fredwilson

      i missed that one Joni agree there is a misalignment, but we also have a marketing problemwe have to get young adults interested in the kinds of jobs we have for them to do

      1. jonsteinberg

        Yes the responsibility is ours…that’s why I’m trying to meet and blog about this to spread the message.

        1. Dave W Baldwin

          You are right Jon. This is probably due to a disconnect between age groups. To introduce writing code at the MS/JH age level is way above the head of any School Board member. So computer subjects in HS deal with using Power Point.This is why my focus (coming) regarding Education is related to everyone growing up (maturity), realizing with technology where it is and its quickening pace of evolution, we need to be looking at principles related to the use of formulas so the younger mind can solve more complex problems utilizing the machine.Otherwise we just sit spinning in the same spot.

  15. Sebastian Wain

    I think the key is focusing in high school programs. For example ORT (http://www.ort.org/asp/defa… made an exceptional work in this area. In countries like Argentina students finish their high school with 6 years of experience programming robots, developing software and some exceptional students goes beyond the standard program and develop their own programming languages or do AI with neural networks or support vector machines.If you follow that path you’ll have an earlier workforce probably working part time while they are in the University.

  16. fredwilson

    i need to go take a look at BTOP. thanks for pointing it out

  17. carlystrife

    I went to RPI (an engineering school in upstate NY). As a student, we heard very little about the opportunities available to us in startup communities. Career fairs were always the conglomerates/big name companies, and sadly thats where most people I know ended up after school. I think a structured recruiting and internship/incubator program for students would be a great idea to peak interest and at least give them an idea of what is out there so they are making an informed decision. Something like a summer Techstars program for undergrads. I’d love to see more students from my alma mater going big!

    1. Frymaster

      I’d bet dollars to donuts that RPI has a “technology transfer” or “commercialization” institution, if not up-and-running then in the planning stages. It’s a surging trend.

      1. carlystrife

        We definitely have a tech commercialization office at RPI. I’d venture to say that 95% of the undergrad population doesn’t know it exists.

        1. John Rorick

          The other issue: 95% of the faculty could care less about it.

    2. Derek Francisco

      Syracuse U is doing some cool stuff encouraging entrepreneurship among students, including an on campus “Sandbox”, integration with the Syracuse Tech Garden, and business plan competitions.

    3. fredwilson

      yes, that is what HackNY is building

  18. centernetworks

    Why not tie into the subway – we already have miles and miles of tunnels that could support more cables…the subway reaches every area you’ve mentioned including the SIRT. just an idea…

  19. ErikSchwartz

    On the talent side the problem is that if you’re doing the whole seed stage lean startup thing you pretty much have to work with the talent available. That’s the problem we ran into up here in Maine. We raised basically a seed round for my last company and we literally could not find any local talent.You have not really got the resources to relocate people if you’ve only raised a short runway. Add on top of that getting people to relocate when the company they’re relocating four only has 6-12 months worth of cash.

    1. Dave Pinsen

      I know a good iPhone developer in Maine if you’d like an intro.

      1. ErikSchwartz

        Thanks, but my new company is based out of Cambridge and I split time.

  20. bsiscovick

    On a more macro note, we need to encourage more young people to enter the field of engineering. To do this, we need to start exposing students early in their educational years. For one thing, I adamantly believe CS should be a mandatory part of the middle school and high school curriculum just as math and other sciences are.

    1. Aaron Gray

      Amen to that. I learned BASIC in my 7th grade computers class (on an Apple IIe), but then there was no curriculum after that. As far as I can tell, there’s no CS curriculum in the middle or high schools here in Portland, OR, either. We’re teaching kids to be computer-based media consumers rather than teaching them to create and innovate. It’s a problem.

      1. Dave Pinsen

        You touch on a broader issue here. When bright kids are young, they can learn a lot of interesting things (math, CS, foreign languages, etc.). But the people who are teaching them often have no background in those subjects.

        1. bsiscovick

          good point. tough to find, but possible.

    2. Nancyjpt

      We tried signing up for computer science at NY public high school for my student and the classes were held at the vocational building –several miles away with conflicting schedules making it impossible for my student to take college prep course subjects needed AND computer classes such as programming and certs! Amazing huh? CS is considered a vocational class for dummies sort of like auto mechanics was in the past.!!At the private state of the art version of high school in Riverdale another family member attended, CS was integrated into every class and many activities. It should also be noted that laptops and/or computer labs were available in every class at the private school while at NY state public, there were no laptops at all.Not even for IEP students.Where is Microsoft on this? Giving away vaccines in Africa….Meanwhile all of their US customers are still overpaying…CS should be open free to the entire community via high schools or libraries. I do see this happening faster on the outside of the public school system in response to the needs of older boomer types who need the skills for employment reasons. There is a significant segment of the population who believe that they are going to become rap singers after high school graduation as a way to make a living. And that anything that requires math is something that they cannot do.

  21. Michael Bubb

    Great points as usual. In the comments you said that in NYC you pay a premium “to meet, date, eat, drink, and party with lots of other like minded people”. Companies do that as well. It is amazing that companies put up with the substandard bandwidth to be here.Interesting to note Google’s acquisition of 111 8th Ave. You can greatly improve the power density and bandwidth density by driving 10 miles west – but the undeniable value of 111 8th is the ‘meet me room’.NYC really needs fiber infrastructure – the midtown bldg we are moving into has no fiber. Our options were DS-3 or extend fiber. We chose the latter (expensive) option. A fast backbone in the city would be a wise investment.

    1. Ron Feldman

      Agree, I find Google’s building acquisition interesting in this context. If they wanted to, they could start to turn that building into a start-up hub as other leases expire. Could be an interesting move for Google Ventures a la Polaris and Dogpatch.

  22. Harry DeMott

    Having lived around here my whole life – I wouldn’t hold my breath on the wirting NYC plan. I lived through the construction outside of the Midtown Tunnel when they were fixing the road – only took 10 years to repair a road! And this was a main artery. Heck – there are places on the outer boroughs that can’t easily get broadband now!NYC may just be the greatest place on earth – but our infrastructure is way outmoded – and as Kid Mercury reminds us – we are perpetually broke – and pay the highest prices (taxes, rent etc…) for some of the worst service.It always amazes me heading West in the U.S. to Salt Lake City or Boise or newer cities like that with great outdoor living, phenomenal new infrastructure and a lack of structural deficits and structural impediments for getting just this sort of stuff done. Aand yet – NYC remains the Big Apple!

    1. fredwilson

      you can pull wires through existing conduits

      1. Harry DeMott

        Forget investing:I’m getting into the NYC electrical contracting business.I predict those guys will be richer than Zuckerberg if the plan gets put into place.

    2. Keenan

      Harry remember, NYC has more people in a 5 mile radius than those states have in their entirety. That changes the economies and political scales tremendously.It’s a lot easier building something smaller for the first time, than rebuilding something bigger.

      1. Dave Pinsen

        Laying down bandwidth is nothing compared to building a massive subway system, and NYC did that 100 years ago. Between then and now New York seems to have lost the ability to build quality infrastructure in a reasonable time frame and at a reasonable cost.

        1. Keenan

          It was a lot easier to lay a subway a 100 years ago when the city was new and growing than it is to change or fix not that its mature. Building new is always easier than fixing old.

  23. Scott Barnett

    Just as big a problem is the marketing aspect of a programming degree. Somehow, programming became “uncool” in the US – I guess with offshoring/outsourcing it was deemed a commodity market. My wife is a middle school teacher and her class saw a robotics demonstration by some Engineers in Israel yesterday – they told my wife’s class that Israel, India and Eastern Europe are THRIVING due to the growing population of computer and electrical engineerings. You would think Facebook/Google would make programming cool again, but it doesn’t seem to be a growing major still at universities?

    1. Zachary Hanna

      Yeah, programming had already become very uncool by the time I was in school.Which is why I got out of it and into large scale systems, networking technology, security, etc.

    2. Zachary Hanna

      Programming is cool in the valley but in the rest of the world to normal people who want to have a life and have $$ to enjoy life – it’s simply not feasible.The market is doing its job – I’m sure if you offered programmers $250k base in cash (forget equity) or found a way to reduce the living expenses below 70% of their take home pay the scene would change.

      1. Scott Barnett

        So, what careers are appealing to college students now that offer $250K base and equity out of school? In fact, what other career(s) offers the opportunities, starting salaries and possible perks of a 4 year computer science degree?

  24. andyswan

    If the city wants to do it…go for it. I’m all for local governments doing what’s best for their citizens. Just don’t get my tax dollars involved….now or in the future when your munis face default.TWC isn’t nuts….they’re just not seeing profitability there. And why lay new wire when Julius Ceaser at the FCC is working unilaterally to seize it?My .02 is it isn’t about the wire….it’s about the cost of living and the alternative opportunities that exist in places that aren’t paved over.

    1. kidmercury

      andy, please don’t talk about the municipal bond default. it ruins the dream and forces us to think about reality. please behave like a mature adult and only talk about happy things.

    2. fredwilson

      of course TWC doesn’t see the profits in itthey mostly won’t accrue to themthey will accrue to what runs on top of the networkthat’s why its best for the network to be owned by the community who will benefit from it more

      1. andyswan

        Isn’t that “government in the isp business ” that you rejected earlier?I don’t care, as long as it isn’t Federal…. just confused what you’reproposing an rejecting.

  25. Benjamin Neuwirth

    I completely agree. When I was graduating from Columbia (2006) with a degree in computer science my classmates and I were swiped up by Microsoft, Google, Amazon, etc. In retrospective, it would have been more fun to stay NYC and join the start-up scene. But I didn’t even know it was an option.Here’s an idea: Start-ups can pool resources and recruit on campus at Columbia, NYU, etc. just like the big companies do. You gotta get the word out to the engineering kids through direct action.

    1. fredwilson

      “but i didn’t even know it was an option”we MUST fix this

      1. Donna Brewington White

        It seems that the sort of marketing needed to cultivate a candidate pool for the NYC startup scene is a lot like the marketing needed by startups in general — more grassroots and often educational/awareness-building based. You’ve already got a great product (albeit a little “product development/enhancement” is still needed) and a growing brand as well as increasing brand awareness — thanks to people like you. (Although the audience is pretty much the already initiated.)Side note: In reading Bussgang’s book, one thing that occurred to me (not sure if it was directly related to or just inspired by something he said), is that one thing larger VCs could do is to develop a college marketing/recruiting strategy that would begin to build a candidate pipeline for their portfolio companies, both present and future investments. And this goes beyond just recruiting seniors or at the grad level. Is anyone already doing that?

    2. uno

      That is because they can pay much more than a start-up can. It is very simple. A talented computer grad would be crazy to go to a start-up unless they are part of a founding team.Yes, of course there are exceptions in hindsite if you luck out an land at the next google but that really is simply playing the lottery and is not type of career plan of any sort.A package from Google or Microsoft out of college for your first 5 years is great: training, free soda pop, and ping png tables and then after 5 years you should have an MBA done and be start your own company or headed into senior management if you want your career to progress.Almost impossible to remain an engineer your entire career if you except to progress. Microsoft used to allow that career path due to lucrative stock options so after 5 years you basically had a $ million bucks.

      1. fredwilson

        i totally disagree with that first paragraph. you get way more responsibility in a startup. the equity comp is way more valuable. and you can push code the first day at work

        1. Stephen Purpura

          I’m curious how you are determining the value of the equity comp to state that it is more valuable. Are you calculating expected value from all of your portfolio companies? All venture funded startups in NYC?I’m really just curious, because I don’t know what data you’re using to make the judgment.

          1. fredwilson

            i know what our companies pay developers in the way of equity, i knowthe probability and distribution of success of our portfoliocompanies, and i believe that when combined with cash comp, the totalpackage is highly attractive

    3. Aneel

      I graduated from RPI (2003) upstate (Troy), hellbent on coming down to NYC. IBM offered me the job and location. Like Benjamin, I didn’t even know there was a vibrant startup-scene with jobs aplenty in NYC. The word certainly isn’t getting out in the region, either.

  26. Dan Spinosa

    Two hackers with laptops could start (and run) a company in the middle of Williamsburg’s McCarren Park if the city was blanked with wireless Internet access. Ubiquitous high speed (> 5mbps up & down) Internet access would draw the talent and ramp the pace of innovation (not only for business, but individuals: see crowd accelerated innovation http://www.ted.com/talks/ch….I shouldn’t have to even consider Internet access when deciding where to meet somebody, where to work, etc., in NYC.

  27. markslater

    you just wont get people wanting to ‘start out’ in your great city. The economics and living conditions just dont stand up to SV or even boston on a $ for $ basis. Your best bet is to attract engineers who are several years and possibly a win of some description in to their careers.

    1. fredwilson

      that is simply not true mark

      1. markslater

        whats not true? that New York is not one of if not the most expensive city to live in in the US? i dont think anyone needs data to support that surely.A rental in brooklyn starts in the $1400 rangehttp://newyork.craigslist.o…A rental in an equivalent borough in Boston – say south Boston is at least $ 500 less – i know this as i live between downtown and southie.the start up scene also happens not to be in the urban boroughs – its also out at 120 or further meaning that you aren’t forced to live in the city to be in amongst things.i have many friends who have moved from boston to NY and to the man they say cost of living is a good margin higher.the reality whether you like it or not for a newly minted engineer on $65-80K per year is that the standard of living at that level is very different when comparing the two cities, and until you break through 100K its not too pretty in the big apple.someone tell me how this is wrong – i am certainly open to being proved otherwise.

        1. fredwilson

          you said:The economics and living conditions just dont stand up to SV or even boston on a $ for $ basis.first south boston is not even close to brooklyn. brooklyn is about the most awesome place in the world. you get what you pay for in life.the living conditions in NYC make up for the cost. it is all about supply and demand

          1. markslater

            ok – Brooklyn may be ‘awesome’ when compared with southie. then why make the argument in the first place? i interpret what you are saying as ‘newly minted engineers should be running to brooklyn as its a hidden jewel’. But they are not…so why?clearly NY is going through somewhat of an innovation rennaisance (a great deal by what i can see thanks to you and your colleagues and friends) – how many hires within these startups require engineers to move to NY? i’d be interested to know that.there seems to be a disparity between the growth in opportunities and the talent bench to feed the machine.why?i dont buy that a talent pool collectively missed the opportunity to live in ‘awesome’ Brooklyn.

    2. Zachary Hanna

      do you have any supporting data for that?SF is yet another $1200/mo frenemy roommate city,.

      1. calabs

        “frenemy roommate city” that’s precious.

  28. Joseph

    Most of the cities, large & small, in northern European countries have community owned/financed networks for white-label by ISP. Definitely doable. I.e., Amsterdam: http://arstechnica.com/tech

    1. Nancyjpt

      Amsterdam is so happening.

      1. Zachary Hanna

        I actually met quite a few entrepreneurs at the Quora launch party (in SF) that were from Amsterdam and stated they didn’t have the sufficient startup ecosystem and thus moved to SF. Same thing at SuperHappy Devhouse, etc.

        1. Josephmayer

          I moved to Amsterdam immediately after college, from Silicon Valley/Stanford bubble, and did a startup there for ~4yrs. I actually think it has all of the attributes, frequently discussed on AVC, which make it an ideal startup env’t. I’d be happy to discuss further if you’re seriously interested in doing something over there – though I moved back to NYC to attend medical school, which had always been the plan/passion, I’ll continue to spend large chunks of time in AMS & participate in the startup community – great engineers over there are easier to find & can have a much better qual of life than in NYC.My guess is that the folks you met at Quora suffer from the whole silicon valley “penis envy” thing…tech just isn’t the only thing in Amsterdam, so the many succesful entrepreneurs aren’t lionized like in the Valley, and many Euro cities are constantly trying to be the “Silicon Valley of [insert city country/continent]”. All that said, I will admit that it can take a bit pushing initially to get Dutch working the typical startup hours/product cycle.

      2. Zachary Hanna

        Please tell me more about your experiences in Amsterdam? I have always wanted to go back there.

  29. Rob Sobers

    I think the talent piece is the more important one, at least for the immediate future.http://adgrok.com/new-york-…To sum it up — there aren’t any good engineering schools in NY, the cost of living is ridiculously high, and Wall Street–which is bouncing back–pays far better than risky start-ups. To most grads, SF is just as cool as NY. And the weather is better.That said, I grew up in NY and work for a software company downtown. I love it here and I’m definitely rooting hard for the NY startup scene.

    1. fredwilson

      i think the cost of living in brooklyn and queens is not as bad as many in this comment thread are making it out to be

  30. Craig Plunkett

    Hi Fred,Your young Navy Yard startup can choose from three wireless providers to bring high bandwidth services to their location. Probably better performance than TWC and faster provisioning.

    1. SF

      I am glad BNY has progressed so far. I co-founded a start-up based there in 2001, and as much as we loved the place, *everything*, except electricity was a major pain to get there.Still – loved working there. Just going in every morning and see those large cranes gave me shivers and a jolt of energy.

    2. fredwilson

      that’s what they are doingbut i’m concerned about how much bandwidth they can get and also reliability issues

      1. Craig Plunkett

        Theoretically they should be able to get 100Meg up and down, but that will be at a prohibitive cost for such a small company.Reliability really depends on operational execution of the WISP. YMMV, but generally smaller providers are more responsive than those that have scaled up.Fiber to the premise is the ultimate answer. The current last mile constructors of this, Metro Ethernet providers are undergoing a rollup phase right now. The enablers of new Metro E entrants, Ethernet Exchanges, are proliferating. What is really needed is patient money and cooperative local governments to allow the buildout of provider neutral dark fiber. Access to streets and poles and capital for the buildout is the only thing that is holding this back.The public doesn’t need to own the dark fiber, the public needs to permit access to the streets and poles. It is the same thing as making more spectrum available to private builders of wireless networks.

        1. Zachary Hanna

          Has anyone used Towerstream in NYC and has feedback on their reliability?Fixed wireless broadband is the elephant in the room here.

          1. Peter Mullen

            While everyone seems to point to Fiber as the holy grail of bandwidth, the prospect of this happening anytime soon is effectively zero. Fixed wireless or Metro Ethernet (over copper) should be more than viable, available and very cost effective options. Companies like WebPass, TowerStream and WiLine (Fixed wireless), Sonic.net and Telekenex (Metro Ethernet over Copper) offer very high bandwidth and very cost effective options where fiber does not exist or cost prohibitive. Where are these counterparts in NYC? Cmon people, do your homework.

  31. Eric Harper

    I work at the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education. We have a large network of Liberal Arts Colleges spread around the country (http://www.nitle.org/networ…. I could see us building some type of partnership to expose talented computer science students to the startup sector. Let me know if there is any interest in exploring something.

  32. Elie Seidman

    RE: Bandwidth. We moved into a new office on the corner of W 13th and 8th Ave about a month ago. We ordered “high speed” (15Mbps) from Broadview in early November. They still have not delivered it. Because the infrastructure to the building is so poor (no FiOS, Cogent fiber, or Time Warner) Broadview has to deliver it as “Ethernet over copper” (Actelis is the main hardware maker) by provisioning 6 clean copper loops to our office from the Verizon central office. Broadview is operationally incompetent so that’s no doubt part of the problem but the fact that we can only get 15Mbps and it takes months to get it is really a sad statement about where NYCs technical infrastructure is at.

    1. Nancyjpt


    2. fredwilson


      1. Elie Seidman

        Thank you – looking now. We’re currently using CLEAR which is a good backup plan by the way. But it’s terribly slow – it maxes it at about 3Mbps down and they add about 80ms of latency; I’m guessing that latency is an artifact of the wireless aspect of their service since any wireless service I’ve used (e.g. Verizon EVDO in my laptop) has a lot more latency than the wireline services. What’s nutty about all of this is that I get 25Mbps down on my home Time Warner cable connection.

    3. Peter Mullen

      I would suggest that big VZ has little to gain by enabling their copper loops in competition with their FiOS rollout. They won’t be required by law to share their FiOS local loops with competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs like Broadview). So I doubt it’s Broadview’s fault in provisioning new briadband connections. In fact, VZ is cutting local copper loops and not installing new ones so they can leverage their monopoly position with their local FiOS rollout. This does not favor consumers nor the startup ecosystem in having to rely on VZ rolling out their FiOS when and where they see fit, while strangling the local copper loops and competitive offerings. There are many areas in SF that are not served well with broadband options thus paving the way for fixed wireless service as an option.

      1. Elie Seidman

        In the macro, I definitely agree with that assessment. However, in this case Broadview was moving our service from one location to another. The location they were moving us from – the Chelsea Market building – has Cogent in the building and we were using Cogent for 100Mbps internet access over fiber (awesome, by the way) and Broadview for a T1/PRI for voice. Broadview delivered that T1/PRI over Ethernet Over Copper by connecting a Cisco VoIP gateway box (converts TDM PRI/T1 to VoIP) connected to the back of the Ethernet Over Copper Actelis box. Our new location – 13th street and 8th ave – does not have Cogent, FiOS or Time Warner Cable so we asked Broadview to not only move our voice service (which is effective VoIP but masquerading as a T1/PRI) to the new office but also augment our service with their “high speed” Ethernet Over Copper Internet access. Broadview spent about 30 calendar days moving our service and on the day of provisioning realized that they had “moved” the service from the original location (Chelsea Market) to guess where? If you guessed that they did not move it to our new office, you guessed right. In fact, they “moved” the service to the location we were moving FROM. Yes – that’s right, they installed the new service – or so they claimed – at our old address at Chelsea Market.So it’s hard to know at this point whether or not this is Verizon’s fault or just incompetence on Broadview’s part. Clearly the incompetence is pretty impressive. I guess in a few weeks I’ll know the answer. My expectation is that Verizon will eventually deliver some or all of the needed copper loops to our new office. My real plan is to pay Cogent to install fiber to the building and our office. If I guarantee them a long enough contract, it’s affordable on a monthly basis though it will probably take them 8 to 10 weeks to install from the time I sign the contract.But broadly speaking, my take is that the CLEC model is basically broken and the likes of Broadview are going to have an increasingly difficult time staying in business is my sense. I say all of this having worked in and around the telecom and CLEC space from 1998 to 2006. It was an interesting space at the time. I kind of wish I had left it (for the internet space) a bit earlier than I did but it a very interesting sphere to be in for those years.

        1. Peter Mullen

          Ah, my condolences. That sound pretty effing bogus, coming from a service provider that is supposed to know how to do those things. I agree the CLEC space is a difficult space that must be deftly managed, especially with the changing regulatory environment that seems to more and more favor the giants. It works better here in SF as AT&T not rolling out and defending FiOS turf like VZ back East.

          1. Elie Seidman

            Thanks. As Fred said, you know that the situation with infrastructure in the US is in a bad place when you can’t easily get high speed (= 200Mbps plus IMO) at 13th Street and 8th Ave in Manhattan.

  33. John Rorick

    Alright you pulled me out of lurker status…I am a refugee of the university world (worked for a large NYC college that rhymes with “BYU”, amongst others). I even have the Masters in Higher Education to prove it. Why did I leave this arena for the private sector? Because the university model is broken, and I realized I wanted to build programs and drive growth at the speed of “corporate”, and universities, particularly the tenured faculty, move at the speed of…well, whatever they prefer. I note this because the efforts that Charlie O’Donnell recently posted (250 developers) and your mention of the city efforts to drive an engineering talent pool will never accomplish a thing if reliant at all on the academic world to drive any point of execution. Many academics (in my experience the vast majority) do not see private sector needs as compelling. The only exceptions are the top tier business schools. Co-op programs exist as one-offs in certain college departments but that will not change the metro area developer talent pool.What is needed is a technology sector cooperative supported in the same way that businesses pay into local business district upkeep and chambers of commerce. Consider it developer talent fertilizer.You secure large industrial space in an outer-lying borough (solving some of the cost of living issues mentioned), design a Y-combinator-esque environment where you convert it into THE hub for young technicals who want to be part of a vibrant growing tech scene in NYC. You go BIG, you ask for city support in the vein of tax breaks and infrastructure support and eventually it becomes the destination for early stage VC’s to seek the next idea, eager startups, and post undergraduate engineers looking to launch their own career (they would emerge from their time at the cooperative as “fellows”). Then university technology programs will want to be aligned with you, as much as you will want to draw from their talented PhDs for a knowledge base.My only request is that this be named after me…If you look toward universities at the outset, this problem never gets solved.

    1. JLM

      What an interesting, candid and thoughtful view. Made all the more so by the authority of your life experience.There are large universities who are doing just thing — the University of Texas — through the efforts to commercialize research and through the private endeavors of their faculty.An example of this is the Institute for Creative Capitalism founded by the late Dean George Kozmetsky (co-founder of Teledyne) of the UT Grad School of Business.The challenge on many of these efforts is the decision to either focus on start ups or people who can drive start ups.I suspect the right answer is both.

      1. John Rorick

        I agree the university connection is needed. Many Cali area universities thrive and drive tech entrepreneurs and the underlying developer talent. But waiting on the university community to execute the vision means it will never launch (in NY at least). Most academics have chosen NOT to go into the private sector. And the most high-minded leaders in academia see little reason to meet the needs of corporations. They view their vocation and mission as quite the opposite.

        1. JLM

          Yes, I see and agree with your observation as it relates to the typical college PhD prof.Some graduate business schools have taken a bit of a turn toward the pragmatic reality of becoming a “trade school” by attracting faculty who have actually done what they teach and by consulting actively.Many business grad schools have active internship programs which place students with local companies — paying internships.Some business schools have completely jumped the track — the Acton School — and are basically entrepreneurial boot camps with the education delivery system being entrepreneurial in its own right.

        2. Frymaster

          Dude, when the guy down the hall moves out of his office and onto his lavish corporate headquarters, a prof might reassess the mission.As for getting the brass on board, spin-offs generally kick back to the university, too. The regents take their end without a beef!Particularly understated OH: The prospect of significant funding tends to have a galvanizing effect.

          1. John Rorick

            The guy down the hall moving out and into a lavish office is the exception (at least in NYC, and most start-ups are lawn chairs and card tables in the beginning). I understand the compelling economic kick back theory but in my surface level exposure to the NYC tech scene I have yet to stumble across any meaningful tech ecosystems that aim to solve the talent gap issue and have been started by a university.I personally feel you are overstating the enthusiasm that faculty leaders (or even associates) would have to execute on a spin-off even with the promise of strong financial returns. Administration is another story, but it is these computer science thought leaders that you need. It is not really the prevailing DNA of a tenured faculty member, or those seeking tenure. These are individuals who are driven more by white paper and research accolades (or research funding, something they also get to take a %$ of) than private sector rewards. It is why they are professors rather than lead developers (I can not emphasize enough the benefits of a tenured faculty members work schedule…let’s just say the flexibility far exceeds the needs of a hard charging software/tech firm).One last dirty little secret: faculty at large Research “1” level universities typically have a percentage cap on the additional portion of their base salary they can draw from research grants and university programs outside of their faculty responsibilities. This typically hovers between 20-30% of base salary. If so, faculty working with a university spin-off program have a cap on their financial incentive. That also hampers their motivation to put forth these efforts as the economic benefit would be limited personally.Again, there are faculty exceptions and a university connection is needed, but the private sector is where it needs to start. Call it the Field of Dreams approach: Build a leading edge technology cooperative, and the university alliance will come.

    2. Frymaster

      But this, really, describes the current-practice commercialization space. It’s a continuum that starts in the classroom and lab, then goes to commercialization space as a kind of clearinghouse where private sector practitioners help steer primary research into commercializable areas. It’s a lot like how NHS sends primary research to the pharma companies who “medicinize” the breakthroughs.Then these ideas find their way into the incubators like Y-comb, etc.The uni’s are only part of the solution.

      1. John Rorick

        I politely disagree. The Bloomberg initiative is a call first to universities and research/applied science entities (nonprofits I presume). Do they know best what the science and technology sectors need or are focused on? A starting point of government requesting university ideas on commercialization is misdirected. Bloomberg should ask the private sector, maybe in the form of a business “caucus” what is needed. If the end game is developing tech/science talent and research that can drive product development and new industries then you should start with the companies that bring product to market and need this talent, not universities.I think the tech/research private sector should develop and drive this eco-system and turn to local government to support future growth. Waiting on government entities who are waiting on essentially nonprofit academic submissions is no way to jump start further grow in tech and science for New York. These groups do not move at the speed of corporate, and do not necessarily know what the sector needs. I think it was a Charlie O’Donnell tweet that I saw when Bloomberg first announced this initiative (I am paraphrasing): “Great, turn to the very institutions that have failed to do this thus far for help on this issue”Just my two cents. Appreciate the debate. Now back to this day job thing…

        1. Frymaster

          I think the Disqus widget is a little squirrelly for me running Chrome on OSx. Nesting has been, um, varied.I did not get the bit about BB admin going straight to the unis. Maybe not so great. My experience is that gov acts as a convener, connecting private companies with research.In all, my take away is that, yes, NYC has some problems. Like this one, which really is different where I am. Granted, this is more life science than computers, but Brown Univ medical school has spun out several medical device companies, a hot-as-hell vaccine shop and a gene sequencing equipment maker. Those are just the ones I know of.Brown is currently building a new medical school in a neighborhood where we’ve demolished a highway. It’s also much closer to their research hospital. Both the commercialization office and the incubator space are nearby. But to get from there back to downtown, you have to go past all these restaurants, bars and clubs. It’s awful. Definitely stay in New York.

          1. John Rorick

            lol. I am a bit older and live in the ‘burbs. From my understanding Providence is a great area socially and for business. Enjoy.

    3. SF

      Is not the previously mentioned Brooklyn Navy Yard (BNY) exactly the kind of environment and space you are talking about? City has been running it at a loss for years and years, trying to attract tenants that were creative+interesting+green with tax breaks and investments in the infrastructure of the BNY. Technically, it is even next to a large-ish university – Polytechnic, lately absorbed into the NYU machine.My issue with such incentives is that it uses my tax dollars to do things that seem to be nicely doable by themselves – i.e. creating profitable companies.Look at DUMBO. Real estate owners there spent years leasing space to artists at low rates until a critical mass – and overcrowding in Manhattan – was achieved. Then they quickly switched to renting at above-average rates to “real” companies and kicking the artists out when their leases expired. No need for major tax incentives, just nice old-fashioned greed (which we all know is good :))

      1. John Rorick

        I think we agree more than not…I do not think the city needs to run any part of it (like BNY), just partner down the line to aid the growth and success. It should all begin with the private sector that has the need filling the void.

      2. fredwilson

        the Navy Yard has a mass transit issue, unfortunatelyit could be fixed and should be fixed

        1. SF

          In my days companies used to send shuttle vans to the train station. And to get lunch for people – silly problem when you are about a mile from the thriving DUMBO.

    4. sigmaalgebra

      The connection between formal education and biomedical or information technology (IT) startups is not easy to see accurately.So, here I discuss this “connection”.My background to opine:I’ve had one or both feet in IT for a long time. My Ph.D. is from the engineering school of one of the world’s best research universities and is in some applied math. I’ve been a B-school prof, a researcher in a corporation, helped start what is now a blue chip company, and am starting a Web 2.0 company.K-12K-12 has their plate full of various struggles that have next to nothing to do with the connection. Even if the struggles went away, the K-12 system really does not know anything very valuable to teach for the connection. Next, even the best people in K-12 education leadership will not have any very good ideas on just what to teach for the connection. Next, fundamentally, to take the K-12 teachers and administrators, necessarily a broad cross section of the US population, and have them teach high excellence for the connection to the next generation is not promising. Or as in J. Dewey, each generation passes down what it has, both good and bad, with, hopefully, a little improvement at each passing. That is, he was not hoping for a lot more.The key to excellence for students of K-12 age is independent study with good motivation at home and, hopefully, some good guidance from some very bright and well informed people. In time there should be some really good materials on the Internet although so far I have looked and seen none at all. Sorry Khan. Bill Gates, listen up and get serious.Research UniversitiesResearch universities regard their main mission as research. Period.There’s a point here: Each year or two, it looks like the contributions from research are meager and that better use could be made of the resources. But look back 20 years and can see some major results so that a university without those would be out of date.For the learning, the attitude is, the material is on the shelves of the library; if you want to know some of that, then go for it.The graduate courses are supposed to be well organized introductions to fields of research by experts in those fields.In particular, for the Ph.D. students, the main requirement is just the research. Commonly at the best research universities, and at mine, there is no official coursework requirement for a Ph.D. Again, the emphasis is on research, not courses.For the professors, a good research professor is usually a very hard working person. The academic research is very competitive, and the better professors get the top universities to bid for them.Tenure usually keeps a prof from being fired but says nothing about salary keeping up with inflation. To keep up with inflation, a prof has to do well enough in research to have other universities bid more.Research universities look down on ‘vocational training’.All this is well understood by the NSF. Of course, a huge fraction of the money comes from Congress: Nearly all the world’s best research universities are in the US, and there is little doubt that Congress is willing to allocate funds to maintain this situation. Congress sees the history of the importance of research: The record is clear and overwhelming, especially in the US since WWII for national security, medicine, and the economy. The NSF won’t ask the research universities to be more ‘vocational’ or even more ‘professional’.Community CollegesYes, community colleges are willing to provide vocational training. But only a tiny fraction of the important knowledge in the ‘trades’ that keeps the US going was obtained in a classroom. That is, the community colleges should be making a good contribution, but I fear that they are not and, instead, are being mostly remedial or irrelevant.These issues of the connection are commonly understood with crystal clarity in the leadership of US education. E.g., one of my dissertation advisors is now the president of a world-class research university with some of the world’s best programs in engineering, computer science, and technology: On such issues, he is a very bright and determined guy.In my case, the most advanced course I took in grad school has proven to be by far the most valuable in my career and is crucial for my startup. That is, courses that were more ‘career oriented’ would not have helped.Generally it is true that all of deans, professors, students, teachers, parents, and employers could be better informed about the connection, especially for startups, but likely the Internet is one of the best solutions we could hope for.I have a tough time believing that leaders in biomedical startups should want more in vocational education or even career education instead of the best in biomedical research.For ‘software engineering’, as I already explained on this thread, I believe that my startup easily can teach what is needed. So, I see no big reason for formal education to emphasize more in what is now commonly regarded in business as software engineering.It is true that workers in some fields get a big advantage from their field being a ‘profession’ with, say, licensing, professional and ethical standards, professional peer-review, professional liability, certification, etc. However the most promising work in the research universities is likely too new to be the basis for such ‘professions’. So, students who want to have such material be much of the basis for their careers will likely have to do without the advantages of such a profession.Finally, yes, I see the connection as possibly important but, still, not easy to understand. Or just what benefit USV, RRE, etc. will get from Columbia and NYU may be significant but, still, subtle.Here’s some of what’s difficult:For the startup, pick a good problem. E.g., in Web 2.0 want to give some hundreds of millions of people something they don’t have, that they will like a lot, and that no one else or nearly so can provide. For this, one advantage can be some ‘secret sauce’ from some research. Generally this step is tough to do.Okay, good research, as in the universities, that’s tough to do. Of such research, only small fraction will be good as a basis for ‘secret sauce’ soon.So, we have two things that are tough to do. That’s the rub. There’s no royal road there.

      1. John Rorick

        “Research universities look down on ‘vocational training'”Exactly. And when a conversation is had at an NYU, Columbia, etc about these types of industry programs you inevitably hear the chorus of “we are not a trade school” from large factions.

        1. sigmaalgebra

          The promise of getting much attention for ‘vocational education’ from NYU, Columbia, other Ivy League universities, etc. is not good. Sure some professors are hard at work being competitive in ‘pure’ research, but nearly all the profs in applied math, applied physics, and engineering are interested in ‘applied’ research. For such profs, problems from outside academics are candidates for research projects, and commonly such profs are starved for contact with good non-academic problems.If a Web 2.0 site has a tough nut they can’t crack, one approach is to contact some promising profs and ask for help. If there is a promise of some research there, then they might get interested.Of course, the community colleges are eager to offer vocational education.

    5. fredwilson

      awesome idea”my only request is that this be named after me”i love it!

    6. calabs

      Rorick Talent Farm

  34. Deirdre Wyeth

    NYC has an amazing public high school called High School for Math, Science and Engineering at City College. Getting the students there internships in startups would be win-win. They’re really great kids (my daughter graduated 2 yrs. ago) who had to pass the Specialized high school test to get in. They could be free labor at startups while learning real-world skills. Of course, paid internships would be better….

    1. fredwilson

      do they teach CS at that school?i thought the only public HS in NYC that taught CS was Stuvesant

  35. SF

    Without becoming emotional on the topic of scarcity of engineers, MTA, or quality of education, I would comment on the “young engineers” mentality…Why does not anyone want to encourage 40 and 50-year olds to stay/move into the city. The price difference, if it exists is not that large for a 120K 40 y.o, and he (or better *she*) would have 15-20 years of work experience. They are more likely to actually have been around real businesses, learnt a few things – etc?One of my customers made exactly this bet – hired a few just-out-of-school Carnegie Mellon grads AND a 60 y.o guy IBM Research laid off. Guess who was 4x more productive at 1.2x the cost?What happened to IBMers that were let go upstate? All the people who worked for the larger firms shedding jobs like dogs shedding hair? If you want to know why few young people want to pursue careers in CS or any other engineering – it is because they see what happened to their parents, and how they get treated if they do not move on to executive positions by their 30s or early 40s.

    1. Mike Hart

      Your observations are partly the reason for the rise in entrepreneurship amongst the younger generation. They have seen what has happened to their parents and want to control their own destiny. Boomers are the most highly educated and experienced segment of the population, yet are increasingly being kicked to the curb.

      1. SF

        Mike,But my point is that it seems like there is an opportunity to attracttalent that is just as good, and possibly better in some ways to thecity by targeting an underserved population of 45-55 y.o engineers whohave grown children, tons of experience, and desire to spent theiryears before retirement doing something meaningful. After all, if youare supposed to develop for the segment you *know*, the 50-65 y.osegment is the largest one in the country, no?

        1. Mike Hart

          excellent point

        2. fredwilson

          if they are happily ensconced in rural suburbia, it’s going to be hard to get them to NYC

          1. SF

            If the goal is 250, or even a 1,000 people – surely there are enough who would love to trade their empty nest for a pied-a-terre in Manhattan or Park Slope and a chance to do something meaningful before retirement.

      2. fredwilson


    2. sigmaalgebra

      Yup, the flip side of those problems is an opportunity:Conceptually software and nearly all of applicable computer science is simple, dirt simple, even childishly simple. It can be learned quickly.The problem in becoming good as a software engineer is just one point, and it is simple: The documentation sucks.In a particular organization, given some GOOD documentation and a teacher who understands it, and given some students with reasonable levels of talent, interest, motivation, and attention, it is quite possible to teach them to become good ‘software engineers’ as needed in the organization easily, quickly, efficiently, and inexpensively.Next, one of the biggest opportunities is to teach people well past 20 years old: It’s clean indoor work with no heavy lifting and can be learned very widely. So, the pool of potential employees is nothing like just recent college graduates, in computer science or not.Another opportunity is just to hire people well past 20 years old who already know a lot of computing.Yes, I fully intend to exploit this opportunity ASAP.

    3. Rwingender

      Great post SF. I agree. I don’t like hiring young people. Then you have to deal with: 1) Attitudes. 2) All they want to do is play ping pong and read FB all day.3) They have no real business acumen. 4) They don’t have the same motivation to work hard and really be productive.I’d take the 60-year-old IBM guy over the 22-year-old every day of the week, and twice on Friday.

  36. Carl Rahn Griffith

    So true of so many regions/cities.Rockaway Beach. Lol. I bet The Ramones never thought it would have been cited in this context! 😉

  37. Matt A. Myers

    You’re firing on all cylinders in this post. 🙂

  38. kirklove

    I’m all for this. Plus, I like saying Dark Fibre in a sinister voice.

  39. karen_e

    I love these ‘megatrends’ posts. They are the most applicable to those of us in a different business. Keep up the great work. Where are we now, into your 8th year of daily writing? Sheesh!

  40. Nate Westheimer

    I’m thinking that what would really disrupt things (and do a better job of attracting new talent) is if all our “business people with great ideas” learned to code. Wouldn’t an engineer be more attracted to a city that culturally embraced engineering in a big way? (More thoughts on this over on my blog)

    1. ShanaC

      It is rest hard to learn to code by yourself. people are thrown off by the learning curve.

      1. Nate Westheimer

        people are throw off the learning curve for sure, and i have been in thepast, but it wasn’t because i couldn’t learn. it was because i couldn’tlearn with the mindset i had about learning at the time. the whole time, itturns out, i had it in me.

  41. Michael

    Fred,I totally agree with your post, but I’d like to add one thing. You wrote: “If you are a 22 year old man or woman just starting out in life, would you rather live in suburbia and work on a campus or would you rather live in Williamsburg and work in Flatiron? I think the answer to that is obvious.”I think part of the problem is in the attitude expressed in that sentence. I love NYC, lived there 11 years and miss it nearly every day. But now that I’m on the outside I can say definitively that some of the best & brightest I’ve met, even if they’d consider living & working in NYC, feel repelled by what comes across as NYC hubris and/or an outright insult to their current way of life.Your next sentence was, “We just aren’t making that case to the best and brightest engineering grads.” I agree; how you do so is vital.

    1. andyswan

      Agree with this. NYC is great…I love visiting….but the answer is NOT obvious.New Yorkers’ arrogance that everyone else is living like rubes is part of what makes NY great, but it’s also delusional and makes for a good chuckle for the 22 year olds in Austin and those of us kickin it in suburbia and lovin it.An extreme rebuttal, full of classic lines: http://www.youtube.com/watc

      1. sigmaalgebra

        With that video clip, and with considerable irony with respect to the issue of bandwidth on this thread, note what Chattanooga has done with their city-owned last mile!Yup, those hillbilly, white lightening, NASCAR, red-neck, Dollywood, 14 year old cousin-wives, pulled-pork Billy Bobs now have last mile bandwidth to blow away nearly every other town in the country!”Just ‘cuse they tawk slow doesn’t mean they’re stupid!”

        1. andyswan

          Funny things happen when you’re digging through dirt instead of concrete!Sent from my 50 Meg suburbian connection.

      2. Rwingender

        Andy, I couldn’t agree more. I read your post AFTER I wrote one of my own, where I also mentioned Austin. I will add this: I lived in the Washington DC area for awhile, and HATED, HATED every second of it. Yeah, Georgetown and the touristy stuff was nice, but everyday living sucks there. Too much traffic, too much crime, too much terrorism (I was right in the middle of anthrax and sniper attacks), and the cost of living was much too high. Yet, the natives there love it. So, I always ask: Well, OK, but where else have you lived”?The answer was almost always….”nowhere”….I’ve been to NYC a few times…and yes, I do think New Yorkers are arrogant…not to mention oblivious.

        1. fredwilson

          i plead guilty as charged. but the good news is we have a lot of arrogant and oblivious people who love to live and work here

      3. fredwilson

        i tried suburbia and hated iti’m glad someone likes it

        1. andyswan

          That’s what makes the world go round.PS I don’t think I’d go for suburbia in NY either. My commute tolerance isaround 12 minutes lol

    2. Nancyjpt

      People who do not live in NYC— do not idolize it.Esp Williamsburg.Yech. The place needs a bath.NYC is what it is: a big fat residence for financial services professionals.And their service providers and landlords. (Emphasis on “LORDs”)”Engineering” is such a broad term. Are you talking about bridge builders or mere code writersand”I can do math” people.Economic Development is about to become a Statewide event in NY.Because it has to. And all of the Hudson River Towns are the best region in the state to develop in every way for new economy commerce because of the quality of life and balance of resources–agricultural and urban. The Hudson is an underdeveloped resource for transportation, the towns are already there and just need to be brought into the new century with jobs and infrastructure.And close Indian Point.Attract talent? Manhattan Style just doesn’t appeal except for day trips and tourism. Give me organic farms and orchards, The River, the small town values and culture and natural inspiring beauty of the Hudson River Valley! A high speed train would be nice too.

      1. fredwilson

        different strokes for different folks

    3. fredwilson

      i love NYC the same way the boston fans love the red soxsorry i come across the same waybut i’m not gonna change

  42. Mike Geer (MG)

    Amen, Fred! Will be discussing this with a couple Digital Dumbo leaders over a beer this Friday. Excited to do my part to make this happen.MG

  43. Stephen Purpura

    As a data scientist about to graduate with a PhD from Cornell, I watch the younger people that I invest time in training go off to GOOG, MSFT, AMZN, Facebook, and the financial industry. A few have started companies. And a few have gone to NYC to work as software engineers.Of our students, a small percentage of them are well situated for the startup lifestyle. Of these, convincing them that they’ll have opportunities from NYC that give them a comparative career advantage is perhaps the most important selling point. Right now, most people believe that comes from the Valley.

    1. fredwilson

      we must change thatit’s a marketing job i think

  44. Mike Hart

    NYC could not fiscally handle an expansion of bandwidth you are suggesting. The private sector has to be involved. Just look at the recent trash issue.

    1. fredwilson

      i think you are wrong. verizon is pulling fiber to every home in the five boroughs over a five year period and that is costing them between $2bn and $4bn

      1. calabs

        A functioning government and a supportive public could get it done in 6 months. A non-functioning government and an unsupportive, cynical, lazy, selfish public get monopoly laid fiber in 5 years.Great outcome.

  45. Josh

    My First Post.Hey Fred. Thanks for the great blog. I read it is as someone interested in the healthcare VC space and yet I still learn from it. Thanks JLM too, whoever you are.In terms of infrastructure, there has been land commissioned in red hook or one of those areas in the south-west part of Brooklyn to be built into a life science incubator. The land is mostly unused hangers and old industrial space that is supposed to be refurbished into livable/workable space, so that ideas generated in academic labs at NYU, Columbia, Rockefeller, Sloan Ketting etc. can be developed into products and companies. It has taken an amazingly long time to develop and is still barely making it through, so if you have connections to political people, you should ask around.The original post on Academics is spot on for the biology world. It is slow and usually not that interested in innovation other then a place like MIT or Stanford. Professors, suffer from a “having made it” mentality that would never fly in the business world. Most of my bosses were generally not that interested in the going ons of their workplace, eventhough if I mentioned most of their names to people in my field, I would be told what a privelege it was to have worked with such a wonderful mind. Really unfortunate considering the massive waste this is of intelligent, young and driven brain power.I have also worked in biotech start-up company and although the people were not as talented or as ambitious, at least at the one company I worked at, the platform was run so much more smoothly that more data and results were generated due to the overall pressure of market forces and subsequent organization of the companies leadership.After transitioning out of a PhD program, I have managed to find a place in the NY world of healthcare companies, but this is not the easiest place. San Fran and Boston are both much better aligned for someone like me, something I think New York needs to address considering the amazing amount of research and money floating around the city. I hope with time, as my career develops, I can be involved in this process and it is refreshing to hear IT people interested in its importance as well.Thanks for all your work.

    1. fredwilson

      sounds like you have ideas on how to spur a commerical biotech sector here in NYC

  46. Tom Hughes

    I actually think the bandwidth problem will get solved as real estate comes back. Whenever a building is built or re-developed, they put fiber in now. I think we’re near the tipping point where broadband access will be as routine as POTS and 120V AC. Landlords will see it as necessary to compete, and it’s actually quite cheap to install.What is much harder is to grow the engineers we need. The NY Public School system, which has some strength in science and math, with world-class specialized selective high schools like Stuyvesant and Bronx Science (albeit they could be better and more numerous), doesn’t have a solution for engineering. I wonder if the new Chancellor, coming as she does from a publishing business — Hearst — making the transition to online, and therefore a huge employer of IT talent, would understand this better.

    1. mstearne

      There are engineering schools in place, I don’t know that there is enough of an engineering culture in the city though.I don’t agree with your idea that bandwidth problem will be solved from the construction of new buildings because:a. The vast majority of buildings in NYC are greater than 50 years old and aren’t planned to be knocked down.b. The new buildings that are created are designed for the already rich, not a lot of 22 yo engineers are living in those places.c. The real estate marketing won’t be “coming back” for a long time. Hopefully, we won’t see 2006 hubris for a while.

  47. JLM

    This is an interesting discussion and I think it turns on the issue of who is going to provide the leadership? There is no question that consortii of like minded folks can come together and forge a future which none of them can get to by themselves.Witness the success of Sematech which was founded in 1986 and headquartered in Austin, TX. A few years later, Austin is home to IBM, Motorola, AMD, Samsung, etc — all with huge physical plants, huge payrolls and a long term commitment to the location.Sematech was a “green field” approach and has now about run its course — but it was hell on wheels for 25 years.The challenge of NYC is primarily one of “adaptive reuse” in which existing physical plant must be adapted to a new mission. In some ways, it should just be a real estate play.When I was building tall buildings, I often included a modern distributed phone system in the building, if the building was big enough. I always made my money back and I often made a considerable profit.But I did it to attract tenants and to fill the building. I probably got more than a few tenants because I had this capability — a cherry on top kind of phenom not a core phenom.It is difficult to believe that if there is old under utilized real estate lying around that some smart developer would not have gotten it exquisitely wired and made it into attractive real estate.

    1. fredwilson

      yupgetting the bloomberg administration to wire the city is going to be hardgetting them to get a fiber plant to the brooklyn navy yard, the area around the jamaica/jfk/LIRR station, atlantic yards, long island city, willets point, etc, etc should be relatively easy

  48. kenberger

    RE wiring NYC, agreed that it MUST be spearheaded by municipalities. Ignore the incumbents and their CLEC heritage at all costs if possible.We learned a lot from the early 2000’s with all the “wi-fi everywhere” startups. I ran a consulting team helping big VC’s look at all these deals. We never gave a single thumb’s up. And to this day that battlefield is paved over with bodies. Even Clearwire, Meshnetworks, Intel– look behind any supposed “success stories” for the belying truth. Just like streetlamps, and subways, many benefit but neither an all-public or all-private solution tends to work.And actually, whatever happens will probably be to a large extent *UNwiring NYC*. That’s exactly how it’s been done successfully w/ wimax and newer wireless backhaul tech in China, Russia, and a growing list of places where the last thing you’d want to do is get local approval or drill holes in ancient structures. I am sure it will be a key part of a larger solution in NYC as well (the Empire State Bldg antenna already transmits some of it).

  49. kenberger

    “I think the answer to that is obvious. We just aren’t making that case to the best and brightest engineering grads.”Exactly– many of *us* might think it’s obvious, but many brilliant minds i’ve known would think obviously *not*. And I too was that way until recent years. I’ve been through this before trying to bring talent to NY, and it was tough. (This was a major inspiration for founding my current business, but that’s another story)BUT, I really think that’s changing in an exciting way for NYC to succeed now due to some key factors that have really changed, including:1. Safety. Huge change from previous times. Tough to find a dangerous ‘hood here these days.2. Wages/cost of living. The expense part is true, but manageable once you live here, and wages are way up for engineers.3. De-Manhattanization: these days, you really can work and/or live well in the outer boros. Who in their right mind would have shlepped to Brooklyn 15 years ago?!4. Decline of Wall St / rise of a real startup tech economy: latter truly booming for the first time. Plenty of like minds to cross-stimulate.

    1. fredwilson

      the de-manhattanization issue is hugea lot of people who don’t live here have no idea what is happening in parts of brooklyn and queens

  50. Tereza

    To meaningfully move the needle to fill Charlie’s numbers:Identify the brightest students who are highly likely to be ‘connected’ or attracted to New York. You MUST include outreach to the suburbs. Reach out to this talent EARLY.Get the lists of all the National Merit Scholars/Regents Scholars, not only in the City, but from the suburbs of Westchester, LI, NJ and Fairfield. Isn’t this public info??Create positive, life-opening experiences that connect their minds to NYC. Keep them so busy with cool stuff that they don’t have time to dream about Silicon Valley. Create roots here so they’d give something up if they went somewhere else.The suburban kids have been watching and dreaming about “The City” their whole lives. No matter what college across the country they go to, there’s a good chance they plan to be back here for their first job (and you can guarantee their parents would love to have them back). Make “Tech in New York” top-of-mind for them while they’re away in college, so they see this as the end destination.Host College Break hackathons in DUMBO (Thanksgiving, Winter, Spring Summer). Invite the kids sitting in Westchester bored out of their minds at their parents houses and partying in the woods all summer long at the Pound Ridge Reservation. They are damn smart, near the city, and don’t have enough to do. Offer them social glue to NYC.Send invites out to the top college CompSci depts in the country so their NY-area students drop by when they’re home (“In NYC this winter break? Come!)In parallel, create meaningful connections to NY-Metro-wide high schools. They are your farming program. Host highschoolers to hackathons in DUMBO, similar to Chess tournaments. This means sending invites to the Physics and CompSci dept heads at Horace Greeley, Staples, Scarsdale and Fox Lane high schools. (I use those as examples, not definitive lists). Have them pick out delegates. These kids need to get to meet each other while in high school. Need I say that we should be mindful to get girls going to these too. Maybe even try for mixed-gender teams.So the kid from Scarsdale buddies with one from Bronx and the one from LI. They pull an all-nighter at a hackathon together. They become buddies. One lands at Harvard, one at MIT, Buffalo, CMU or Rice. They stay in touch. They reunite at the College Break hackathons, because now these are their peeps. And they plan their first post-college startup together.Otherwise, what happens today? They tap into their parent’s networks for the first job. Today they think “Banking!” and “Hedge Funds!” Need to break that cycle.Their (affluent) parents are likely to be co-signing their Williamsburg lease, whether they’re going into Tech or Financial Services. Through education, excitement, events, and lead time, their parents will know enough to be supportive.Naturally NYC should and must be open to all kids, the best talent, from anywhere. But I think local kids are the easiest pickin’s. 250 from this group should be very achievable.

  51. FotoFuze.com

    The heart of this is: Things grow commensurate with their resources.

  52. Sanford Dickert

    An idea someone suggested: I created a page on the nextNY.org site and suggest that people commit to their coding process. As in – tell people what you are looking to learn and share it. We can set our own milestones and begin to learn together:http://nextny.org/w/page/34…I also bought http://www.commit2code.com and http://www.committocode.com and will be pointing to this page. You should be able to edit the page directly. If you can not, send me an email.

  53. calabs

    I very rarely say this, and I’m not even from new york (I’m in LA), but that was an inspiring post. I’d like to see you expand on it, though, and explore the possibility of using stimulus money to accomplish the goals of talent and bandwidth in the new york area. How would such an effort be structured? A task force? A non-profit?Whatever it is, it needs a good name. The reason is somewhat machiavellian, but necessary: if the effort is opposed (as it inevitably will especially by bureaucrats who live in existential fear of change) there needs to be an easy way to tag them for removal in the next election. I’m thinking about something like “One Laptop Per Child”. There are two things that motivate people to help in a cause, inspiration and fear, and they can be used together!

    1. fredwilson

      “hires and wires”??

      1. calabs

        The Cyber City Iniative.

  54. candice

    Oh wow, the Lafayette fiber project is known outside of the state. Cool.The Lafayette kids showed up to our barcamp in nola over the summer. They have great bandwidth (50mb to the internet, 100mb inside lafayette) and no developers. Then again, it’s a very small city. ~100k or so. New Orleans’s mini startup community is bigger – but bandwidth is mad crazy expensive here. Like 500+/month for a T1 kind of outrageous. The film industry is actually pushing to get us better backbone infrastructure into town so they can upload movie takes to NY/LA for editing instead of fedex’ing hard drives.I pay ungodly sums for 10mbit fiber at one of my offices and waited two months to get it.

  55. uno

    I completely disagree. This constant drumbeat that there are not enough software engineers is, excuse my french, absolute BS.The correct statement is that there is not enought talented software engineers willing to work for X$ in NYC.There are not enough talented engineers willing to work for peanuts. Yes it is easy to get to 100K basically out of college or dropping into the U.S.A. on a H1-B visa, but then what?NYC city is a place where talented lawyers pull down 500K to start and talented quants pull down 300K not problem. How may software engineers in NYC make more than 200K salary (please do not through in options, ect..)?For example, I “was” a talented software engineer but now can make 200K in software sales in NYC “IN MY SLEEP” be home by 6pm everyday and skiing every weekend.A close friend of my pulls down his 200K by recruiting software engineers “IN HIS SLEEP” and has tons of time to have fun in the city.I believe in the markets with passion…and the market DOES NOT LIE. The markets states that if you are a talented young kid in the U.S.A. then you DO NOT want to going into engineering. PERIOD.In general, you want a career that is protected and from global wage arbitrage and where you can extract “rents” so to speak because of limited labor supply (kind of like a union) and software engineering wages are capped, to much upward pressure and the doors open for the flood of talented engineers waiting to enter.Sometimes a protected market arises such as SAP consultants (not really software engineers either) where you can easily make a truck load of money in your sleep but that games is now ending.Finanally there is an issue with “career” in that after 5 years a talented software engineer has 90% of the expertise required. An engineering with 20 yrs C++ skiils is not valued much more than a 5 year C++ engineer. Contrast that with an 70 years old lawyer or investment advisors or software sales or CEO or .. where “experience” and so value $$ builds over an entire lifetime.I enjoy your posts and I’m started a company and also looking form some “cheap” and “talented” software engineers like everyone else…would laos like a “cheap” lawyer in NYC is know anyone?Thanks for letting give me opinion and if you are a young talanted engineer in Columbia then do not stop and go start through to your MBA and then start your own company.

    1. fredwilson

      you are not factoring in the value of the equity in your math

      1. Zachary Hanna

        What is the likelihood of my equity becoming worth cash? Unless the company has already gone public?

        1. fredwilson

          A public offering is not required. A sale of the company candor it. Andsecondaries like facebook yelp Zynga and Groupon have done can do it too

      2. Zachary Hanna

        I’d have to work for 500 startups in order to make sure I got the right amount of exits necessary to be overall profitable.

  56. TyDanco

    As always, spot on, with one caveat–your advice to NYC is not universally true for others on wiring up a municipality. It will work for NYC, but it has been lethal to my hometown of Burlington, VT. Burlington has an active history of being a progressive city, owns its own electric company, has a big college population and is home to Dealer.com, a quickly growing community. I, like others, voted to support spending $5mm to wire up parts of the city that would serve our city government and “downtown”, as it were, in Burlington.However, the move has virtually bankrupted the city, which mismanaged the situation so it is now stopped payments on $50mm in debt to CityCapital, (estimated value of system now $13-14mm), secretly ran up another $18mm in quiet IOUs to the city treasury, and managed to only partially wire the city at a cost of over $10,000 for each installed household.http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com… The real shame was that this was in a town which was already partially covered by Comcast, which then did everything it could as a competitor to make sure the City didn’t succeed. The debacle mixes the worst elements of “Music Man” shysters and political coverups.Clearly Mike Bloomberg knows how to run a company, and the economics of wiring a town like Burlington differ from even the least dense of the five boroughs. I’m in favor of wall-to-wall broadband, but who and how does the job matters. Burlington would have been better off encouraging Comcast to finish the job, even if that granted a de facto monopoly. Broadband is great, but you have to ensure that the plan and people are up to the job. Little municipalities take warning.

  57. Rwingender

    Fred, you want 22-year old engineers to move to NYC? LOL…the reason that doesn’t happen is because: A). It’s too damned cold. B). It’s too damned expensive.When I was in my twenties and early thirties, headhunters were constantly calling me about jobs in NY and SF/SJ. I told them to stop calling, because I couldn’t afford the rent, unless I wanted to spend half my waking hours on a train. Forget about buying your own place close to where you work.All of the population growth in this country is happening in mid-sized cities, like Madison, WI, Richmond, VA, Austin, TX, etc etc etc. These cities are cheaper to live in, and you don’t have to piss away 50% of your money on rent.I know you LOOOOOVE NYC, but if I were starting up my own company, there’s no way I’d do it in NYC, and definitely not in NJ. Too hard to attract and keep talent.

    1. fredwilson

      read Paolo’s comment belowyou have no idea what you are talking abouthave you ever lived in NYC?

  58. braker1nine

    Well, I’m just one person. But I just graduated in Computer Engineering and a couple of my top targets for grad school (in Computer Science) are in NYC because I’m interested in getting involved in the startup scene there.It certainly seems to be growing as I never would have thought I’d be doing that a few years ago. I probably would have said California or bust just 2 years ago.

    1. fredwilson

      awesome newssend me an email with the kind of company you want to work for

      1. braker1nine

        Done 🙂

  59. paramendra

    The city needs to get on with the fiber part right away. No excuse not to.

  60. paramendra

    This is the best call to action post to date here at AVC. And some amazing comments. I feel like, these are the people in power. Why not go do it? Or is the gulf between this crowd and the political class in the city too wide? That is sad because this is the crowd that will create the next waves of jobs the city so desperately needs.

  61. Pete Griffiths

    IMHO there is a factor that works against NY. The financial industry is a sink for engineering talent. It is too easy for talented young engineers to end up working for a company like goldman. The $ is huge and there is no risk. So the golden handcuffs are very hard to escape. Build up a big nut, family, kids.. and before you know it the goldilocks period when you have a lot to offer but not too many commitments are behind you. This is exactly the same problem they have in London.

    1. fredwilson

      that was a huge issue five years agomuch less so now

      1. Kevin

        Fred,Why much less so now? Sure, more of one’s compensation in financial services will now be locked up and subject to clawbacks as you get more senior, but one still makes far more money in finance than tech, especially in risk adjusted terms.

        1. fredwilson

          yeah but the mood in the finance industry is sullen while the mood intech is bright and sunnyi see so many engineers leaving finance and working for less cash plusequity in tech these days

          1. Kevin

            are those engineers who are working in the IT depts of financial firms? i think the real challenge is for getting the quantitatively minded kids to choose to be engineers versus financiers, rather than engineering in finance vs engineering in tech.i majored in cs at stanford and even in the heart of silicon valley there were a substantial number of top cs kids who chose to do ibanking rather than being engineers. the long run risk adjusted compensation is simply just too good

  62. Aruni S. Gunasegaram

    It is hard to build a community where all the pieces come together. It takes time and luck. CBS just did a piece on Austin, TX and our unique confluence of organizations that have contributed to one of the few cities in the US with great job growth. I work at the Austin Technology Incubator and they interviewed our Executive Director and a few of our companies for the piece as well. Here’s my post on it: http://www.entrepremusings….

  63. mstearne

    I am not totally in agreement with your assessment that given the chioce a 22yo engineer would rather live in Williamsburg than suburbia. Moving to NY, LA, Valley, etc. is not what the vast majority of students of any sort are willing to do. Very few Americans move away from where they were raised.Lowering the cost of engineering higher education specifically may attract college students to NYC which are much more likely to take the chance of moving to NYC than those who’ve already graduated. Affordable education in NYC is not available in NYC. It may be there but students from the outside only hear of the name brand schools (NYU, Columbia, Hunter (?)) and they are very expensive.I do wish that Bloomberg would have the vision (isn’t he a “tech” person after all) to light up all the dark fiber in the city. As great as NYCWireless and other community orgs are unless the good government powers that be stand up and see bandwidth as fundamental as streetlights the incumbent providers will get the $100/month from those who can afford it and and the rest of the potential talent in NYC will be disregarded and hopefully get a job at Abercrombie or Starbucks.

  64. Rick

    I agree more needs to be done to attract talented engineers to NYC, but it seems to me the reason there is little biotech startup activity in the city is about the same that there are no tech behemoths in the city – in addition to talent its simply lack of space and like of privacy. The suburban campus setting offers that – the space and privacy that is. Somehow I think it’s harder for companies to stay mum on proprietary stuff in the hustle and bustle of the big city, but somewhat easier in the seclusion of a big campus. But more than that is the space thats required of these companies – for R&D etc. There’s a reason, after all, that big pharma ended up in NJ. And there are no real large tech companies in downtown SF or Boston either, they are out in suburbia. So if you are suggesting the NYC needs engineers to develop a bunch of small startups that can be flipped – well that may be good from a VC standpoint, but I feel a company should do whatever is in it’s own best interests, not the city’s.

  65. ifridge & Company

    When following the debate here I would like to remind all of you that consider NYC too expenses to include the network effect into your equations. There is no place else you have such a amazing opportunity to connect with great minds. Yes, we are all digitally connected but that is not enough.For all the talent out there: The value of your first job is not defined by your entry pay but by the opportunity your job offers. I started as Power-Point-Slave and Late-Night-Pitch-Book-Printer at long gone investment banking team BUT I meet 200 CEO in the first three years of my career. It was absolute worth it.NYC is not cheap but offers a great ROI

  66. ifridge & Company

    When following the debate here I would like to remind all of you that consider NYC too expenses to include the network effect into your equations. There is no place else you have such a amazing opportunity to connect with great minds. Yes, we are all digitally connected but that is not enough.For all the talent out there: The value of your first job is not defined by your entry pay but by the opportunity your job offers. I started as Power-Point-Slave and Late-Night-Pitch-Book-Printer at long gone investment banking team BUT I meet 200 CEO in the first three years of my career. It was absolute worth it.NYC is not cheap but offers a great ROI

  67. Daniel Kraft

    When following the debate here I would like to remind all of you that consider NYC too expenses to include the network effect into your equations. There is no place else you have such a amazing opportunity to connect with great minds. Yes, we are all digitally connected but that is not enough.For all the talent out there: The value of your first job is not defined by your entry pay but by the opportunity your job offers. I started as Power-Point-Slave and Late-Night-Pitch-Book-Printer at long gone investment banking team BUT I meet 200 CEO in the first three years of my career. It was absolute worth it.NYC is not cheap but offers a great ROI

  68. Mark Essel

    You mention publicly supported networking.Not long ago I wrote about adhoc mobile and home networks and its high time we broke out of the confines of official pipes. If we all constructed adhoc nodes we could build a ubiquitous free network. The technological challenges of having it all work together is certainly surmountable (dynamic routing, IP addresses, etc.)

  69. mrcai

    Community built broadband in Penrith and the Border (rural Britain) http://www.rorystewart.co.u…I love that they discovered tax money was already being spent delivering fibre to a local school, so they just tapped into that, stuck an access point on a dead tree and pumped it out to a bunch of farm.

  70. Jason Evanish

    Fred,Great thoughts. Many ecosystems are thinking about how to better engage their student populations.  Here in Boston, it’s been a topic of discussion for quite some time. Unfortunately, until recently, not much had been done for A simple reason: it takes a lot of effort with not much return.It wasn’t until a bunch of recent grads decided to do something that things have started to change. First, Cort Johnson and Jake Cacciapaglia decided to form a group for the under 30 entrepreneur crowd, which included going to schools to have events to directly engage students.  That group, DartBoston, ran with almost no funding for about a year and now both guys work at startups (they needed a paycheck and were looking to move their startup careers forward). This move has led to the group having to dramatically reduce their activities; for much of the first year they had 5 or 6 events a month, but now have only one and don’t visit schools.  Meanwhile a couple of other groups have tried to help. Bostinnovation, also started by a bunch of 20 somethings has set up campus reps at many schools to both get a beat on entrepreneurship at the schools as well as try to have evangelists on campus. They have since had an event called ShutUp and StartUp where over 200 students came with ideas and questions about startups and bostinno got local mentors to come and help out for the weekend and offer advice.I run a site called greenhorn connect, which I started out of my own challenges and frustrations in trying to navigate the ecosystem as a young person. Since that time we’ve helped with a career fair we tried to connect students with companies, but with venue costs, we ended up being unable to help early stage companies recruit (we had to charge companies a lot to cover costs). Just like in the valley and NYC, Boston is short on developers and so now in a few weeks were having an event I encourage folks in NYC to model: http://developersdevelopers…. The key to this event is that we are giving students both an education on what they need to know to work at a startup that they may not learn in school as well as introduce them to some really smart industry leaders and companies that can hire them. The event has over 200 developer and designer students registered from over a dozen different schools. Many of these schools have been reached only because of meeting students from the schools that DartBoston visited.  The importance of these connections cannot be underrated; we have gotten many more sign ups due to emails by these students to their classmates than any message from administration or school departments.The key point to all of this is that there isn’t a lot in it for those working to engage students; it takes time and effort and is not very profitable. That combination coupled with the fact that the average startup employee (founder or employee) is already buried in work a their startup is why it’s so hard to do more than talk about engaging students. …and that doesn’t even account for the fact that you have to constantly engage new students as ones you win over graduate.I hope this help. I think about the student engagement question quite a bit.Thanks,Jason

  71. Sanford Dickert

    Fred -I have been musing this issue for some time – and spelled out the strawman of an idea to grow developers in the city. I am going back to the drawing board for my education on python and django – because I have a product idea and I love to learn. Others interested should consider the opportunity as well.http://sanford.blogspot.com

  72. allubarbosa

    I run a site called freshman in connection with which I began my challenges and disappointments in trying to move the ecosystem young. Fairs Since then, we’ve helped, we tried to connect students with companies.Motorcycle Parts

  73. Anthony Townsend

    Right on. the Mayor has sat on his Economic Development Corporation’s own 2005 broadband infrastructure plan (here’s the full PDF http://dl.dropbox.com/u/797…. we’ve fallen behind even second-rate European cities in terms of access and capability of small business broadband.i’d love to talk with you about organizing some kind of roundtable to get this on the city’s agenda again.