NYU Poly Speech

A few weeks ago I hopped on the subway and headed out to downtown Brooklyn to NYU Poly, the engineering school that recently merged with NYU. I got there a bit early, went to Starbucks and wrote down some thoughts. Then I got up on stage at NYU Poly and explained why I had recently become a Trustee of both NYU and Poly. Here's what I had to say (15 mins):

#NYC#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. jason wright

    How many people were in the audience Fred?You speak well in public. Do you ever get nervous before going up on stage?

    1. Rohan

      10,000 hours ;-)I’m sure he’s exceeded that by now..

      1. jason wright

        It’s interesting. A while back I had a part time job as a stagehand back stage at a theater, moving scenery et.c. I got to know a few of the actors (not anyone particularly famous) and I can say from first hand experience of standing in the wings that some actors become incredibly nervous before entering the stage, even seasoned actors with many years of experience. It was amazing to watch some of them become contorted with a kind of fear and dread just before going on. 

        1. Rohan

          Here’s something that might interest you then Jason… there’s a very interesting book called First, Break All The Rules by Marcus Buckingham. It talks about the traits of successful sales people. And what they found is that successful sales people are not different from ones who don’t do as well. They suffer the same pre-call jitters, the same depression of a rejection.. they just take it more as a game and get on with it. In fact, the differences between the succeses and the failures was actually very less.There was, however, a marked difference between the successes and the mediocres. The mediocres just didn’t play..Interesting book. 🙂 You may quite like it.

    2. fredwilson

      Not sure maybe 150. I love being in front of a crowd. I used to get nervous but not so much anymore

  2. testtest

    i’m not impressed with people who have money, any idiot can make a bit of money, influence at city level is more impressive.- it takes scale to make big changes.- cross-fertilization^like

  3. David Semeria

    Wow, was that the first demo of their much rumored “backdrop changing to match the color of the speaker’s jacket technology”? Very impressive.Good speech, though I don’t think NYC will ever be huge in cleantech – it just doesn’t fit-in with the image of the city in my very humble and likely misinformed opinion.

  4. Rohan

    ‘And hopefully, some of you in the audience are inspired enough by this idea of creating companies and changing the world that you will make that your life’s work as I have made it mine.’Nicely said, that was Fred.. Humility and determination, it exuded.Inspired, we are. Speaking for many others here, I know I am.Do, we will.

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks Rohan

  5. Peter Sullivan

    Whats Starbucks?

    1. fredwilson

      Thats what I was saying. Bad coffee and worse vibe

      1. Peter Sullivan

        Right, Starbucks is so 2009 haha. I actually thing there is a market opportunity for a new franchised brand to re associate themselves with the Indie / Organic angle and get some new traction. 

        1. fredwilson

          I have a friend working on that

          1. Peter Sullivan

            Hey whats your feeling about the Ace Hotel. Power meeting spot? Cool place to mingle? or overhyped? 

          2. William Mougayar

            Hmmm. I went there for the coffee once and was a bit disappointed. I would vote on the overhyped side.

          3. fredwilson

            all of the above

          4. Peter Sullivan

            Yea I checked it once on our last visit, quite “the scene”. BTW we are about to push some new product that we did thanks to Gary and Christina’s product feedback sessions. Was really helpful… give them a nice Xmas bonus!

          5. fredwilson

            that is very useful feedback on gary and christina. thanks for sharing it.

          6. Peter Sullivan

            No problem. Gary said “make the users feel like they want to own their profile” which we found to be something we were really missing…

          7. JimHirshfield

            Steve Jobs: “There’s an app for that”Fred: “I have a friend working on that”  ;-)As a VC, I suppose you see everything that everybody is working on, right?

          8. ShanaC

            mm, details please?  i love coffee.

  6. Amy Bevilacqua

    I like what you said about the importance of building a learning community–of engineers working with those in finance, sales, marketing, etc. and the ability of NYU Poly, in its educational diversity, to model that kind of ecosystem.  So important in not only launching start-ups, but insuring their health and ultimate success.  The graduate school model of increasing specialization does not always allow for a “liberal” education, which is so key to problem solving–the heart of entrepreneurship.

    1. fredwilson


  7. Neal7799

    So why don’t you open a Seedcamp-like only for Poly-NY? (The student have the talent, you have the connection, and it can give a great boost to NY tech scene?);  And if it is only a time issue – why not recruit someone to handle it?

    1. fredwilson

      Owen Davis has done some of that aleeady with NYC Seed. We can and should do more

      1. rimalovski

        Love to discuss further…

  8. ErikSchwartz

    The subway is one of my favorite parts of NYC.

    1. fredwilson

      Me too. I love it.

  9. Brandon Kessler

    Congratulations on this awesome investment to help our city and tech community.

  10. Tom Labus

    Thanks, good way to start the day.Will they have courses and mentors for creating, starting and running a business?  I think about the infrastructure of talent around Stanford.

    1. fredwilson

      Thats is one of the models i want to emulate

    2. Rohan

      Just an observation a friend made that rang true about Stanford…Stanford is a real world leader when it comes to study of human psychology. If you look at many of the best influence + human nature writers – Cialdini, Collins, Heath brothers, (Seth Godin?) etcNot sure how that influences it being a major center. But, I’m fairly certain it does.. in more ways than I can imagine.

      1. Tom Labus

        Thanks, Rohan.  I like the way the way the campus flows too.

        1. Rohan

          Awesome campus, it is.

    3. rimalovski

      We do have a ton of entrepreneurship courses across NYU (see http://bit.ly/vpIQPx) and recently rolled out a new mentorship program (see http://bit.ly/pLAt24). There is also a bunch of extracurricular workshops and programs for aspiring NYU entrepreneurs, which is growing daily (see http://nyu.edu/entrepreneur).

      1. Tom Labus

        That’s great.  So glad to hear that.  

  11. Dan Epstein

    Nice talk.  Thanks for sharing the vid.  I love your job description: I finance engineers.Anybody else recognize the intro music?

    1. fredwilson


  12. William Mougayar

    New York: No other better place in the world to imagine and make the future- Fred Wilson. What a quote. This should be New York’s slogan. Although any city could say that in theory, NYC has a lot more credibility to back up this statement. On that note, I just landed in NYC, and I hope to discover something about the future in the next 3 days of my visit. 

    1. JimHirshfield

      I see a taxi ride in your future.

      1. awaldstein

        If you want to discover NYC, my advice is two fold: Head underground to travel and look up as you walk around. Inspiration will follow.

        1. Carl J. Mistlebauer

          Yes, “look up as you walk….” I get to NYC about once a year and I always take a day just to walk around and I am always overwhelmed by everything in the city.You cannot help but be inspired by the energy of the people around you and the sheer size of everything.Upon my return I have to spend days dealing with the desire to just pack up and move to NYC.  

          1. awaldstein

            Make certain that on the next trip, we get together and go for a walk together Carl.

          2. Carl J. Mistlebauer

            Thank you so much for the kind offer! I would enjoy that; to admire a city from another’s perspective!

        2. JimHirshfield

          “…and look up as you walk around.” = a sure sign of a tourist.  😉

          1. awaldstein

            Hi JimAs a native New Yorker who has the advantage of moving back home, I take this gentle rib with a smile.I accept that I have a passionate and unabashed enthusiasm for this city. It’s just part of me.NY and Paris are the only cities that I can really navigate on foot by the buildings and the skylines. And of course you can’t do that unless you let your eyes wander to the horizon 😉

          2. JimHirshfield

            I knew you were a native, and admittedly, I love to look up often. Just y’day walking up Park Ave in the 40s, I was admiring the magnificent sculpture atop Grand Central Terminal. We live with art all around us.

      2. William Mougayar

        Oh No…Subway too?

  13. JimHirshfield

    I didn’t know Poly got married. Also didn’t know that you joined their family.Great stuff. Please keep us informed. I’d love to hear how entrepreneurship charges forward from these students.

  14. Mike Kijewski

    Fred is like the Ian Mackaye of NYC entrepreneurship. Love it.

  15. Eunice Apia

    If I had to choose between three…four schools to go to (bare with me, I think I have ADD) in NYC they would be Poly Tech, NYU Gallatin, Cooper Union or New York Film Academy.

  16. Ronnie Rendel

    Phish intro!!!!!!!  I love these people.  

  17. awaldstein

    Collectively imagining the future as the goal of educational institutions in partnership with business is a great vision.

    1. laurie kalmanson

      worked for sputnik era programs … no reason why it wouldn’t work now

      1. awaldstein

        I agree. It’s collective inspiration and I’m certainly onboard.

  18. Jason Gelman

    Thanks for coming down to BK…that was a fun talk. 

  19. AVCoholic

    Great speech. What about creating a Seedcamp or TechStars type program but make it like a college. Have certain requirements for a person to get in but charge tuition. Instead of it being limited to killer ideas and what the they think are killer teams, let’s flip it around and create a program that teaches people a strong foundation for them to launch their dreams off of. It should be a program that can help any persons dream no matter how big or small it is. You see so many entrepreneurs across all industries and spectrum make mistakes simply because they didn’t know any better. Let it be a program that’s sole purpose is to simply help these people achieve their dream and not to find the next superstar. 

    1. fredwilson

      really good idea. thanks!

  20. Aaron Klein

    This was awesome, Fred. Such a great vision of the future. You sounded far more inspiring than any of our presidential candidates, or the President himself, for that matter. :)Last night at the meeting for the community college board I sat on, I spoke for a few minutes on this shift in how our job markets are going to look in the future.The old jobs aren’t going to come back. But there are jobs we can’t fill because we’re not preparing students with the skills they need to succeed. Instead, we’re focused on how many degrees we can issue.I blogged on that topic this morning: we’ve got to start focusing on equipping people with the skills they need to succeed for the future, not just checking archaic boxes.http://www.aaronklein.com/2

    1. laurie kalmanson

      fred for president, running on the awesome party

      1. fredwilson

        eight years of posting my real opinions daily insures that will never happen

        1. WA

          or assures us that authenticity will count for something really important, finally

        2. laurie kalmanson

          or it does

  21. laurie kalmanson

    So awesome. The strengthening of two great institutions via this merger is a great great thing.A track that would cross teach people: engineering for humanities majors — how things get built, how things get made.”The Great Bridge” is an epic history of the bklyn bridge that tells human stories and science.http://www.amazon.com/Great…”The Pencil” is a great history of culture and technologyhttp://www.amazon.com/Penci…People who are compelling writers who also do the hard sciences: awesomeAdd technology/venture/entrepreneurs … I guess my point is, Fred, when is your book coming out?

  22. ShanaC

    I have a friend who would love to do biomedical engineering – but we really don’t have the lab space.  And it hard to find space to develop into labs, because of the square footage and environmental issues involved.

  23. sigmaalgebra

    From my time in academics, getting a Ph.D. in applied math, teaching as a grad student at one university, as a lecturer at a second, and as a prof at a third and some significant contact with business, I conclude that there is a gap between academics and business that makes the Grand Canyon look like a sidewalk crack.So, yes, this gap is a problem the flip side of which is an opportunity — just cross the canyon. There is very little traffic.To close this gap more generally, there are several big, huge problems; I mention three:(1) Money. To do much, academics needs money. Some of the old schools have endowments from alumni donations. Recently student loans have let schools get more from the students. The state universities get money from their state governments. But over the past 60 years, there was just one Sugar Daddy for universities — research grants from the US Federal Government. Originally, starting just after WWII and Ike’s “Never again will US academics be permitted to operate independent of the US military” or some such (along with J. Conant, V. Bush, etc.), the purpose was US national security. Later a second purpose was progress in biomedical technology. So now the money comes from NSF, NIH, etc.At a good research university, maybe 60% of the operating budget comes from such research grants, and commonly 60% of the grant money goes to university ‘overhead’, e.g., the English department. Those grants are BIG BUCKS, the ‘lifeblood’ of a research university.That money is the main reason the US dominates in the list of the world’s best research universities. When you drive by the ivy covered halls of a good, old research university, you are looking mostly at your Federal tax dollars at work.Silicon Valley? It was ‘seeded’ by, was from the ‘critical mass’ from, US NASA and DoD spending for the Space Race and the Cold War, especially for electronics, in CA, around Stanford, led by Dean Terman.Or, remember Jobs and Woz: To get help with electronics, all they had to do was knock on some doors in their neighborhood, full of electronics engineers at Lockheed.Tough act to follow.(2) Research. The pecking order in academics is based on three things, research, research, and research. Call it ‘physics envy’, especially mathematical physics. The work is to be “new, correct, and significant” and published in good peer-reviewed journals of original research. Such research builds academic careers and gets research grants.(3) Non-academics. To do well in anything, ‘focus’. So, a prof who doesn’t focus on just research will have trouble at a research university. So, profs can’t get research grants, that is, can’t get paid, for spending time and effort on non-academic interests. In particular, applications, consulting, and entrepreneurship are tough to do along with the research. Reasons: Money and pecking order.So, for having a university help entrepreneurship, there is some hope via ‘computer science’ because of two situations:(1) Criteria. No one really knows what ‘computer science’ is, what the main problems are, or what “significant” research is. E.g., in ‘artificial intelligence’ (AI) the main goal is just the obscure ‘software that does some work that seems to rival that of humans’. So that criterion is broad enough to drive a truck through. ‘Machine learning’? Do some really sloppy statistics or just f’get about statistics and make some wild, intuitive guesses. Stuff in some ‘training data’. Then test the results with some ‘test data’. Tweak and repeat until get something that appears to work with more test data (yes, there’s a logical problem here with some progress available). Net, when it appears to work, claim success. Right: Sloppy stuff. More seriously, need a better ‘paradigm’ for much promise of big success.(2) Interest. The level of interest in computing is very high among students, companies, venture capital, IPO investors, and members of Congress who want to see the US economy do well. That is, there’s a chance of a ‘third leg’, ‘jobs’, in addition to the old two, national security and medicine to keep old members of Congress alive longer, as a reason for DC to send money.So, net, there’s a chance that there can be enough Federal research funding into computer science for, say, all of US national security, biomedical technology, AND ‘jobs’ to kick off some more instances of Stanford and Silicon Valley. But it takes MONEY, lots and lots of MONEY. Basically need what Silicon Valley had, big bucks from DC, a Dean Terman to bridge the gap between academics and applications, and lots of MOTIVATION.Even with money, easy it might not be: Imagine the intense pressure during the Space Race and the Cold War to get much, much more in electronics working much better much more quickly. INTENSE pressure. Really, money nearly no object. That pressure is what got us from vacuum tubes to one transistor per chip to, …, a billion transistors per chip. Decades. Billions of bucks. Great stuff? Yes. Easy? No. Second act? Not so easy to see.My view is that for significant progress in ‘computer science’, the new ‘paradigm’ needed is for computing to become a branch of applied math, yes, complete with theorems and proofs. So, in particular use math as more powerful and efficient than many passes in a loop of intuitive guessing followed by empirical testing. A lot of relevant math exists, and more can be created, but there’s also a huge ‘gap’ in academics between math and applications, especially to computing. In simple terms, for progress in academics, nearly all the computer science profs would need at least undergrad majors in pure math, and that’s not going to happen quickly.I believe that some of the desired entrepreneurship can flow, but I don’t see changing the universities as necessary, sufficient, or promising: Basically I see just leaving the universities alone to continue on; the best from the universities is terrific stuff. Instead of changing the universities, I see the success via individual entrepreneurs who pick and choose from the best there is, from the best in the best universities, the best in practical computing, and the best of the rest.Of course, that is a recipe for efforts by a lot of entrepreneurs, in teams of size 1-3, with funding from waiting tables, hacking code, or whatever, and not promising for another Silicon Valley. For the latter, need big bucks, a Dean Terman, and high motivation.

    1. fredwilson

      i think building connectivity between academia and startups is the key

  24. awaldstein

    @FakeGrimlock:disqusRE: UX comment.True…but I think more. It not just the experience with the product but the experience of the community. And the understanding of how to discover and keep the early community and build that into a market.

  25. David Smuts

    Fred…, you’re a great public speaker! Ever considered a career in politics?I saw you refer to your notes on your phone only once (in the beginning) and from there it was all free flowing and from the heart. No pauses, intelligent dialogue and great inspirational thoughts for your community.I LOVE IT!

    1. fredwilson

      i shouldn’t have had the phone in my hand when i walked on stage. i had just written the talk and it was all still in my head. 

      1. John Revay

        Youlooked at it only once at the beginning….you mentioned that you had notes onit…I was surprised that you did not pull it back out during the 15 min talk -great job – your heart seems to be in the right place w/ this effort. 

  26. RooseveltIslander

    New York City will become an even bigger presence in engineering and high tech start ups with the establishment of Mayor Bloomberg’s visionary NYC Applied Sciences and Engineering School initiative.Stanford and Cornell have both presented proposals to invest in excess of a Billion Dollars to build cutting edge graduate level engineering schools on NYC’s Roosevelt Island.In Stanford’s case, Sand Hill Road and other West Coast based VC’s have indicated they will follow Stanford to NYC should Stanford be selected to build the Applies Sciences & Engineering School.NYC is going to be a real exciting place to be for start ups, engineers, entrepreneurs and investors.

    1. fredwilson

      i highly doubt anyone from silicon valley will follow stanford to NYC. for one, they are already here. top silicon valley firms have invested in about a half dozen of our NYC based portfolio companies in the past year. and sadly, i think the choice of roosevelt island is not smart. stanford benefits from being right on El Camino Real, the hub of Silicon Valley.that hub in NYC is Broadway from 34th street down to City Hall then across the Brooklyn Bridge to Dumbo and into downtown Brooklyn. to recreate the magic that Stanford has in the bay area, you would want to put a new engineering school in downtown manhattan or downtown brooklyn

  27. laurie kalmanson

    green technology green jobs green economy

    1. fredwilson

      i hear carlota in those words

      1. laurie kalmanson

        i see green tech/green jobs/green economy like the 21st century version of the space program — govt support that creates an industry; the next wave of technology for a different and more sustainable future.the internet started as a govt program.i was driving through indiana for a ux project this week, past the cornfields — hydroponics in skyscrapers; a chicken in every cube. and a small cow, too.bridges, dams, subways, too.

  28. Cory L.

    Nice talk, Fred. Really hope you all make some progress. 1,000 Cory Points to whoever can tell me the name of the song that is playing during the opening/ending credits. It’s driving me nuts. Is it a Phish song?

    1. rimalovski

      Yes.  Talk, by Phish on Billy Breaths.

      1. Cory L.


  29. sigmaalgebra

    Athttp://www.youtube.com/watc…is a nice, long, detailed video of a meeting at Stanford chaired by its President Hennessy. The last part of the video, and most of the video, is a discussion about Stanford’s view of having a campus on Roosevelt Island.Interesting question: Can the efforts of Mayor Bloomberg, President Hennessy, NYC, and Stanford via Roosevelt Island effectively bridge the gap between academics and entrepreneurship?After watching the clip, I have to conclude that the answer is no. Moreover, I have to conclude that if Stanford tries with their current conception, then the effort will fail.I should mention that with only rare exceptions, research universities, outside the professional schools of law, medicine, agriculture, etc. all across the US in word and deed solidly follow the norm of being bitterly against anything professional, vocational, or entrepreneurial. Bitterly.Strongly universities, and from the video also Stanford, like to follow their own norms and values and pursue their own interests in ‘the ivory tower’ independent anything off campus.It is true that Hennessy is, among university presidents, exceptional in his interest in entrepreneurship (Big E). Still, this Big E by itself in a research university is a dog that just won’t hunt because of (1) the need for money (not there from the usual sources for the Big E) and (2) the academic pecking order (which bitterly hates the Big E). Engineering in the research universities wants to be applied mathematical physics and not professional, vocational, or entrepreneurial. Tellingly, at the research universities, even the business schools want to follow physics envy and be bitterly against being professional, vocational, or entrepreneurial.With irony, in the video Hennessy emphasized that the Roosevelt Island effort would have to depend on generous donations. That is, the effort can’t work the usual way heavily from the usual Federal funding sources. Moreover, during the Q&A, it became clear that Mayor Bloomberg has been a major reason for the Roosevelt Island project but will soon be at the end of his last term thus raising questions about continued NYC and NYS support for the project.Further, the video made it clear that the Stanford faculty will insist that the Roosevelt effort be very much an integral part of Stanford and not something different. So, the usual research driven academic pecking order will continue to apply, and this will throttle any very energetic, direct, or effective involvement with the Big E.Part of how Silicon Valley got built was Dean Terman encouraging his faculty to do very applied, often classified, work for the US DoD, to work with companies, start companies, etc. That is, Dean Terman partly broke the usual academic pecking order. A big reason Terman was able to be successful was that US aerospace efforts had Silicon Valley just awash in cash, that is, there was MONEY, HUGE rivers of money.For the Roosevelt Island effort, there is no hope of such money. So, the academic pecking order will apply, and the Big E will suffer.We need to be more clear: There is a vague conclusion that somehow Stanford is just crucial to Sand Hill Road. Whatever the history of such a connection, it is not so clear now. In particular, there is the suggestion that somehow Stanford research gets ‘commercialized’ for information technology (IT) startups by Sand Hill Road, but, now and for the past 10 years, not really. Hmm …: And Hollywood owes a lot to research in the Stanford English department because Reese Witherspoon was once an undergraduate English major at Stanford?As we know, in IT VC, for a nutshell description, seed funding is based on a good demo, Series A on ‘traction’ significant and growing rapidly, and Series B on revenue significant and growing rapidly. Oh yes, and also need team, passion, big market, disruption, etc.Conspicuously absent is any connection with research. E.g., a good demo and some research might, on a good day, be nearly as good as a good demo alone! Indeed, the technology in VC funded IT projects is nearly always just a routine application of existing IT industry products. Here the technology is what a bright, ambitious middle school hacker can teach himself, e.g., as outlined inhttp://www.avc.com/a_vc/201…The usual classroom education at this level is actually in junior or community colleges and NOT a leading research university.When an IT project is for a new industry product, then the work is usually just a routine application of junior or senior level college computer science. E.g., invent a new interpretative language with collection classes, reflection, garbage collection, threads, and semaphores and use routine techniques for lexical analysis and parsing. Net, connections with recent Stanford engineering school faculty research just is not there. In Dean Terman’s time, yes. Now, no (count exceptions on one hand).So, the ‘key’ to Silicon Valley is that it got ‘critical mass’ in Dean Terman’s time and has retained it. Or, bright students interested in IT go to Stanford, and various law firms, restaurants, and Sand Hill Road are all right there. E.g., one Sand Hill Road VC said that he wanted to fund Stanford computer science graduate school dropouts!For Stanford at Roosevelt Island? My view is that too soon it won’t have sufficient political support, money, faculty quality, reputation, student quality, or critical mass.The blunt, bottom line, net fact is that (1) the big bucks are for leading edge research in mathematics, physical science, engineering, medical science, and biomedical technology and (2), except for a few established fields, there just is NOT much money for college or graduate school education aimed heavily at directions that are professional, vocational, or entrepreneurial.

    1. Cam MacRae

      Yes. However, I’m of the school of thought that says the whole bloody thing falls apart when universities make feeble attempts to offer vocational education. But then, that’s not really what they’re for, right?The problem is that a university education has been wildly oversold, and the credence given to degrees by employers is rational only in certain circumstances.For example, in my limited experience (hired maybe 50 programmers – I know there are people here who have hired multiples more who might offer a different opinion), a graduate programmer with a degree in computing who doesn’t spend their spare time hacking is only marginally more useful than a smart kid off the street. And heaven help them when that smart kid starts hacking in her spare time. So what is important here? The hacking or the degree?The same patterns seem to repeat in other job functions.There are plenty of very good reasons to go to university. Plenty! Employability probably shouldn’t one of them.

    2. RooseveltIslander

      I interviewed Stanford President John Hennessey during his recent visit to Roosevelt Island.If you are interested, here’s a video of that interview as we talked during a walk on a rainy and windy Roosevelt Island day. Mr. Hennessey talked about Stanford’s plan for their new engineering school and their culture of innovation and entrepreneurship that he thinks can be transferred to NYC.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        Good interview.Listening past all the wind noise, Hennessy is clearly excited.  Hennessy and many of his ugrads ‘get it’ on entrepreneurship, but I doubt that many of his faculty do.

    3. fredwilson

      the location on roosevelt island is idiotic. it will be isolated and marginalized.downtown brooklyn, on the other hand, is already vibrant, well served by mass transit, and the borough of brooklyn is the desired place to live for most young people in NYC these days.

      1. Denise K Shull

        Why is is idiotic? And why would it be marginalized?The commute to RI is easy and jaw-droppingly beautiful if you take the tram.  An entire new retail strip is being developed in the middle and not one but two parks are opening on the the south end – a place that could be labeled as having the single most beautiful view in NYC. Then there is LIC right next door – a bicycle ride away. Most importantly, there is lots of land to build an incredible campus and incubator space. What is idiotic about any of this?

        1. fredwilson

          Its not anywhere near the tech community in NYC

          1. Denise K Shull

            …And there are 10 open acres to build a 21st century campus plus incubator space “near the tech community”?

          2. fredwilson


  30. Carl J. Mistlebauer

    Boy, it looks like the issue to everything is a lack of money!Wouldn’t it be great if people that made astounding wealth in tech, such as Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, would fund a college, like Cornelius Vanderbilt did funding Vanderbilt University?  Or maybe implemented a program to fund public educational facilities like the Carnegie libraries?What if all universities and their alumni could not spend a dime or donate a dime to their sports programs for 10 years?I cannot help but believe that maybe our real issue isn’t our educational system or our government but rather that we lack a belief in putting back.  I can’t help but think about farming, we all want to harvest the crop but none of us want to amend the soil…..I am not being critical, and I think everything Fred says is spot on, but I cannot help but step back and realize that the AVC community while a large internet based community is actually a minority within the bigger picture.  

  31. Joseph K Antony

    Times have changed.When the epicenter of growth is shifting eastward, to China, India etc wouldn’t it make sense to take a look at what their needs are ? There is a nascent paradigm, of developing in the emerging economies, market it initially there and then reach out to the more developed economies. You can see elements of it in the area of wireless and even engineering ( ..hmmm ..would the Tata Nano be an example?). There are quite a few companies who have recognized this from HP to ABB who have major development efforts in China and India.In this fast globalizing world wouldn’t it make strategic sense to look at the world as the market, not just the US?

    1. fredwilson

      that’s why the NYU Global Networked University is so exciting. they will have major campuses in the middle east and china within the next few years

      1. Joseph K Antony

        I feel compelled to explain a bit further from my experience.As an a Algo Trader based out of Chennai, India, my coding development is outsourced to a very small team on the East Coast. I am charged US $ 72 per hour and I am completely satisfied. For almost a year I tried to find substitutes in India, but it was impossible to get a combination of both domain experience and programming skills in my specific area. It actually works out much cheaper overall to outsource some high end activities to the US.My hunch is that there are far greater opportunities in US companies selling/transferring/using the huge expertise embedded within it to the emerging economies. Companies have to be flexible and get the “packaging” right. And by packaging I do not mean payoffs etc.

  32. Trish Burgess-Curran

    Great chat!  Literally not a presentation but a personal chat.  So simple and powerful!I always love it when you post any sort of presentation / chat.  Anything with video / audio / graphics always adds depth and brings concepts / ideas to life.Thank you!

  33. rbrke

    Haven’t listened to the talk yet but we’re now underway recruiting from Poly for the second year. Great candidates but we’ve never, not once, received a resume from a native born American.  How is it that candidates from China and India and Pakistan can find the Poly, but folks here can’t find it in their own backyard?  It says something about our culture (this is from a Poli Sci major).

  34. LGBlueSky

    Please don’t forget the hot bed of tech in NYC at Columbia. The city should support expansion of their CS and Engineering programs in NYC. Columbia is synonymous with NYC, rather than the other programs that have submitted proposals.  Just a thought from a former Lion. I also think your public speaking skills rival some of the best out there….perhaps you have another career in your future. 

    1. fredwilson

      I love Columbia too. We just backed two Columbia students who built Codecademy.comAnd Chris Wiggins, a CS prof there, is doing amazing work connecting Columbia to the NYC startup community

  35. Oliver Bremer

    Great talk!I especially much like the part on cross-fertilization of ideas and people that lead to ground breaking and game changing ideas.And that start-ups require teams: engineers, designers, product managers, finance people, execs, sales, marketing people, etc.Thank you.

  36. vankula

    I love the Phish Billy Breathes “Talk” intro – Fred are you a Phish fan or did they add that?

  37. Austin Clements

    Finally got a chance to watch this. Got me excited about New York and NYU all over again! Looking forward to the NYU Entrepreneurs Festival, hope to see everybody there Friday and Saturday.

  38. Wesley Verhoeve

    I couldn’t help but hope that you’d uncharacteristically insert a Rick Perry joke when you started the sentence: “Poly has picked three areas to really make a bet on in the future. Information technology, Urban Engineering and…”But seriously, great to see you continue take a big picture and long term view with reads to New York’s start up community by investing time and energy into the foundational aspects. Thank you.

  39. Seenator

    I am at the NYU Poly incubator on Varick St. I was quite skeptical of incubators like this before I joined & thought of it as just another cool office space. But after joining, I can really appreciate the value of these spaces. Its made a real & tangible difference to our business. A lot of fellow entrepreneurs have made very important advise & connections to help building our businesses together. We help each other & are there for each other. Hopefully, if our firm grows to be big enough, we will be able to make a sizable contribution back to the NYU Poly & NYC community.

  40. Eduarte

    Amazing speech Fred!Congratulations!Greetings for you from Dominican Republic

  41. JL Shane

    Fred, great speech.  You mentioned the three areas NYU and Poly are focusing.  Who in NYC can/should focus on the fourth — energy?  As the August blackout showed, intra-city energy “independence” at least for critical infrastructure is the greatest vulnerability of all the growing urban concentrations (this is true globally).

    1. fredwilson

      NYU Poly’s Urban Sciences effort, CUSP, will do some of this worki will ask around and see where the centers of excellence in energy R&D are in NYC

      1. JL Shane

        Thanks.  I will look into CUSP, and ask around to some of my energy industry contacts as well.  Also, the meetup in NYC last week was terrific.  Thank you very much to you and Joanne for a great idea.  

  42. John Rorick

    Maybe this trustee appointment will inspire a disruption of the very, very broken higher education model concerning both cost and delivery. I wonder if Khan Academy has a board of trustees…

    1. fredwilson

      i doubt it. although Poly does have a ton of lower income scholarship students.

  43. fredwilson

    NYU Poly has a super strong dept in that. Nassim Taleb, author of The Black Swan is a prof at Poly

  44. fredwilson

    NYU has a ton of them. Which is good

  45. testtest

    anyone who hasn’t been told how the world works has basically been screwed over. it’s not nice finding it out the hard way.

  46. Tom Labus

    My comment to Fred was for you,

  47. Rohan


  48. ShanaC

    Pity the campuses are far apart – it would be a lot easier for Undergrads to take classes at the other schools if they were near each other.And occupying your old room after graduation is now the new norm.  Money issues.

  49. Cam MacRae

    I love what Harvey Mudd College does in marrying the humanities with science and engineering.

  50. Tom Labus

    I love that the Khan Academy has a Humanities section.  Good videos for history.

  51. awaldstein

    As one of the English/Philosophy majors in this community, I’m a big believer that understanding behavior and people is key to building great products and brands.The current revolution in the marketplace is as much about the changes in people and culture as it is about platforms and technology.

  52. testtest

    this isn’t a good thing fred! they’re lambs to the slaughter in our info heavy world. it takes years to acquire the skills needed to run a technology company.there’s a reason for certain qualifications — because they’re the backbone of business!

  53. Rohan

    Comment from below on Stanford.. Couldn’t agree more. Just an observation a friend made that rang true about Stanford…Stanford is a real world leader when it comes to study of human psychology. If you look at many of the best influence + human nature writers – Collins, Heath brothers, (Seth Godin?) etcNot sure how that influences it being a major center. But, I’m fairly certain it does.. in more ways than I can imagine.

  54. sigmaalgebra

    Yes, but from all I could tell, at a college that emphasized ‘liberal arts’, etc., “English/philosophy” are from not very good down to actually seriously misleading about “people and culture”.  Instead, go for some parts of some of the ‘social sciences’. 

  55. SubstrateUndertow

    Of coursebecause people & cultureare the bedrock platform

  56. ShanaC

    Cialdini I thought was associated with UT Austin?

  57. Rohan

    Mea culpa. removed. I see he is ASU now. For some reason, I thought he was Stanford. No idea why I made the mistake.

  58. Jason Gelman

    Taleb wrote a really interesting piece yesterday for the NYT titled “End Bonuses For Bankers”http://nyti.ms/rFx3OA

  59. sigmaalgebra

    Also Courant of NYU.  

  60. Aaron Klein

    Same here, totally agree. Especially if you’re riffing on stuff you know stone cold and have talked about before.

  61. ShanaC

    why aren’t those departments merging?

  62. awaldstein

    Well said.And that platform has changed. There’s a culture shift underfoot  that is socially infused and powered.

  63. awaldstein

    There is no question that the categories and the educational structure has to change.My point is simply that there is a new intersection of engineering and human understanding, marketing and product design that is just finding its own way and a new language is developing around it.

  64. sigmaalgebra

    Courant, merge?I have a friend who got his Ph.D. from Courant and may ask him!Before then, I notice that Courant was the transplanted math department from Goettingen.  That’s Courant as in Courant and Hilbert, ‘Methods of Mathematical Physics’.  That’s Hilbert as in Hilbert space, a complete inner product space, and Hilbert’s 23 problems for math for the 20th century.Since then Courant has had J. Schwartz of Dunford and Schwartz, ‘Linear Operators’, H. McKean of Ito and McKean, ‘Diffusion Processes and their Sample Paths’, D. Strook and S. Varadhan of ‘Multidimensional Diffusion Processes’, M. Avellaneda as in M. Avellaneda and P. Laurence, ‘Quantitative Modeling of Derivative Securities:  From Theory To Practice’. 



  66. sigmaalgebra

    Your point is correct.Good news!  The situation for progress in the objectives you mention is better than you mention!E.g., my wife’s Ph.D. was in the now much maligned field ‘sociology’.  The maligners want to claim that sociology is really easy compared with a real man’s subject like, uh, ‘computer science’!  Not the way she and her department did ‘sociology’!  Too bad there were no opportunities to place some bets!Two of her profs were J. Coleman and P. Rossi, both President, American Sociological Association, and both basically applied statisticians.  She was a good expert in analysis of variance and experimental design (listen up, Web site designers).  That approach to sociology takes seriously all of multivariate statistics, distribution free statistics, and categorical data analysis and, especially, (the difficult subject of) construction of scientific theories, finding ’causes’, and testing of scientific hypotheses.  Listen up ‘computer science’, ‘big data’, ‘machine learning’ people!The ‘sociology’ she pursued was the science of groups of people.  Listen up ‘social graph’ people!  A “large network of engaged users” as a topic for scientific study via sociology?  Viral growth?Science, especially a mathematical science, is a (the?) powerful way forward and not just in physical science.People ARE important, but I had to conclude that the humanities such as English literature have not been good fields for people interested in humans. 



  68. Cam MacRae

    They’re a science and engineering based liberal arts college that require 1/3 of your course load to be science and engineering outside of your major, and 1/3 of your course load to be humanities. The outcome is well rounded people!Those graduates and faculty I’ve met have been exceptional, and I’ve seen some presentations on their approach to teaching at conferences which have been quite inspiring.I don’t think employability is good reason to attend university, but it appears I’m in the minority these days. Thus I’d like to see the parents/advisors/colleges of people attending under that premise to push double majors or major/minor pairs that marry the humanities, applied sciences, and business as more often then not they go together incredibly well e.g.:Philosophy & Comp. Sci.Linguistics & Applied MathematicsEnglish & MarketingSociology & StatisticsPsychology & StatisticsHistory & CommerceBusiness & Operations Researchetc. etc.Still, I think the only thing that prepares one for work is actual work.Of course those attending for other reasons, say beer, girls, an edu-ma-cation of their choosing, and (needless to say) the dreamers should naturally carry on as they were.

  69. fredwilson

    five minutes from the west 4th to Jay Street on the A/C train

  70. ShanaC

    if the trains run on time + walking time. If you have a total of five minutes per class…