Video Of The Week: NYC's Internet History

This is an oldie but goodie. I’ve posted it here before but not since I delivered this talk almost seven years ago. This is my history of the NYC Internet community from 1995 to 2008. It’s about 25mins long.


Comments (Archived):

  1. William Mougayar

    Goodbye letter D, hello letter H.

    1. fredwilson


      1. William Mougayar

        History….- but it seems you’ve got your mind set on E 🙂

    2. Richard


    3. Mac

      D is back. Disintermediation.

  2. Richard

    Kozmo failed because of _____ and ______?

    1. fredwilson

      we invested in Kozmo

  3. pointsnfigures

    An important point is that it’s not about who wins: Silicon Valley vs NYC (or anyplace else). It’s about making a bigger pie. At our first meeting of HPA in 2007, someone asked me if we were trying to turn Chicago into Silicon Valley. I said the exact same thing you said. It’s Chicago. It’s New York. It’s Boston. It’s Austin. It’s Chattanooga. It’s Toronto. It’s London. It’s Hong Kong. Every city exists for a reason and if you want to be successful with seed stage companies,start by building off the city’s existing strengths. It’s a great foundation. Once established, the community will grow and get into things that you never expected. Then everyone wins.

    1. LE

      Agree but “Winning” is engrained in every part of society. Olympics, Academy awards, Super Bowl, Forbes list of richest, seeking or chasing (whatever it’s called) alpha, list of top colleges, being named to some list of top doctors & lawyers (even if it’s a beauty contest and has no basis in fact) and so on.Business is a sport (and investing is business) so of course there is an element of “who wins” or runners up – silver, bronze etc. in the game. The only time I’ve seen that not be the case is when its clearly not in any way possible and not going to happen. If you can’t be Hollywood you most certainly want to be “Bollywood”. If you can’t be Silicon Valley you want to be Silicon Alley.So while it’s true that you may not be trying to turn Chicago into Silicon Valley you most certainly would want to be mentioned in some lists of places in the same news stories as Silicon Valley. So the key really is if you can become important enough to be on the radar and included in the discussion.

      1. pointsnfigures

        I blogged about competition today. It just depends on how you look at it. The top doctors, top colleges are different than growing a startup ecosystem. Agree on your final point. To be mentioned in the same breath with Silicon Valley would show that you arrived. But, even through the two places concentrate on tech companies they are very different, with different kinds of companies and strengths.

      2. William Mougayar

        Someone said this “You don’t need to be in Silicon Valley, but you need to have Silicon Valley in you.”

        1. pointsnfigures

          agree with that.

  4. Richard

    Seems like the tech is morphing from IPO based model to one mostly of a outsourced (corp) R&D model. Hard to argue about a bubble so long as startups are more efficient than ROI of traditional corp R&D. Interesting, how investment banks have taken a back seat.

    1. Matt Kruza

      Great analogy. Did you coin that? (being serious, I think at least VC funded startups as pretty much corporate R&D as defacto mode makes sense). I guess to some degree M&A has always been way more likely than IPO / independent company, but I think there is a lot of insight in that statement

      1. Richard

        Corps have a poor track record as of late of identifing and recruiting creative R&D talent.Current model solves this problem.

        1. Matt Kruza

          Why would great talent go work for a corporation and make 100-200k with no upside.. when they can found and make $5-50 million? obviously not everyone will make it, but that is the calculus that bright talent must make… and given how cheap / easy it is to start compared to even 5 years ago big corps will have a hard time getting top talent (besides banks / consulting / big law.. but these types are happy having clear path to 500k jobs)

  5. Deborah Newman

    You forgot to mention N2K — anchor tenant at 55 Broad St. We were the first NYC-based major online music service and we IPO’d in 1997.

    1. Richard

      Why is this IPO something to be proud of ?

      1. Deborah Newman

        I mentioned it b/c Fred was talking about 55 Broad Street, which was the first “tech” building in NYC, and also because he mentioned several IPOs in 1997 but not N2K, which was an important player from 1996-1999 in the early Silicon Valley ecosystem. (Why are you so nasty? I wasn’t bragging about N2K, although I should be since it was a very innovative company that actually launched the first digital download experiment in 1998 called eMOD.)

        1. Richard

          You are reading a lot into one sentence to presume that it is Nasty.My take is that the steroid era of the internet (1999) will be looked at like that of baseball, nothing to be proud of.

          1. LE

            Fwiw I took it as being a put down of sorts.

          2. Richard

            I should have have made the comment a little clearer. I was referring to the ipo, not the technology.If bankers and investors keep the quality bar high, we can enjoy a sustainable open IPO window for great entrepreneurs for many years to come, when they rush to the public markets with the greater fool theory we end up with 1999 Q.E.DCall it IPO Environmentalism

          3. JLM

            .Hectoring! Fifteen yards and go to be without supper.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          4. Richard

            Censorship 🙂

  6. jerrycolonna

    You provoked PTSD in me. Thanks a bunch. 😉 Seriously, though, it was great to revisit both the video and the memories.

  7. JJ

    Really great, I love how Josh Harris was only 15 or so years too early for We Live In Public. Brilliant. Do you still think NY scene will ever get to 70-80% that of SV?

  8. David Greydanus

    You look like you really need a nap, Fred…

  9. William Mougayar

    It’s a good thing to visit memory lane once in a while. I still have have an Internet World NYC conference T-shirt from 1997.

  10. pointsnfigures

    How much did 9/11 have to do with NYC rolling up their sleeves and going? Did the community use it as a catalyst, a rallying cry? Sort of, “Let’s do this”? We had the internet bubble burst, and then the nuclear winter. During the nuclear winter, NYC was attacked.

  11. Ann Greenberg

    I believe that the MIT Media Lab grew out of the Center for Advanced Visual Studies & Urban Planning, which was an Arts program where my father studied and taught. Taking nothing away from Red Burns – and that wonderful program, where in the very early 90s I saw a project that still influences me today. Also, BMG’s North American group (NY) funded my 1st company ION (LA & SF) in 1993. Cheers!

  12. Alexandr Kirikov

    Thank you very much for this historical survey! Are you going to continue? How the situation was changing between 2008 and 2015?