Yesterday was the launch of a new organization in NYC that I have been working on since last fall. This new organization is called Tech:NYC and will be led by Julie Samuels. It will be co-chaired by Tim Armstrong and me.

For years the tech sector has been represented in the city and state and with local civic organizations by a loose and informal group of well known entrepreneurs, CEOs, VCs, and engaged members of the tech sector. I have been one of them.

Lately, as the tech sector has grown in importance in the local economy, this approach has become unsustainable. The same small group of people keep showing up at meeting after meeting.

We need a formal mechanism that allows the entire tech sector to be engaged with local government and civic organizations and we need to get the right people to the right meetings instead of the same small group meeting after meeting.

Tim and I explained all of this in a blog post that aired yesterday on Tech:NYC’s website.

Tech:NYC will be member supported. We would like every tech company, large and small, to join and be represented and engaged. Membership details are here and startups with less than 20 employees can join for free.

If you run a company in NYC, we hope you will sign your company up to be a member of Tech:NYC. If you work at a company in NYC, we hope you will encourage your leaders to join Tech:NYC.


Comments (Archived):

  1. William Mougayar

    That’s like putting some muscle into the NYC Tech community.

  2. awaldstein

    This is just goodness.Thanks for the leadership Fred!

  3. kirklove

    Strong move.

  4. JimHirshfield

    Great news. I particularly like the idea that groups like this across the country can work together – leverage best practices.

  5. reece

    good stuff, but have to be a company or an investor…?no option for individual free radicals… ex: me and/or the many consultants/freelancers/not attached to some org… ?

    1. fredwilson

      The NYC Tech Meetup has always been the grassroots organization in NYC representing the individuals in the tech sector

  6. Jeff Judge

    Smart idea. This feels like something the tech community in every large city should be doing.

    1. JaredMermey

      The name lends itself to that. Tech:Chicago, Tech:LA, Tech:SF.How/will/should/can orgs at city levels come together for broader lobbying efforts?

    2. DJL

      Exactly what I was thinking. Tech: Houston. The 4th largest city in the country has a a lot of tech with poor representation.

  7. cavepainting

    That is really cool. A network of nation-wide local advocacy groups will be a very big deal. Especially in driving engagement with local govt, legislatures and congress, and helping politicians make tech-friendly decisions.

  8. rich caccappolo

    Great move. Important initiative.

  9. jason wright

    is this lobbying, like in politics?

    1. Matt Zagaja

      We have a saying in politics: “Decisions are made by those who show up.”

      1. Matthew Zadrozny

        “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”

        1. jason wright

          an unpalatable prospect

      2. jason wright

        the self selecting few, the conspiracy of elites. where’s the transparency?

  10. ZekeV

    Great! Do you think you can finally convince Albany to eliminate the LLC publication requirement?Just as a basic litmus test, I’ve always thought it says a lot about our elected representatives that forming an LLC in Manhattan requires a $1000+ kickback to the NY Law Journal.

    1. Matt Zagaja

      In CT it’s always been fun to watch the newspapers spar with the municipalities over the public notice/meeting requirements.

    2. panterosa,

      No kidding! I formed an LLC after divorcing a LJ journo and asked if he could slide me thru. No dice.

    3. LE

      This sounded onerous so you might want to read this (dated 2008):http://www.newyorksmallbusi…However, since the penalty does not revoke the right to contract, clients may be made aware that the only direct penalty for not complying with the law is the loss of the right to bring lawsuits within the state. As a result, if a noncompliant LLC should ever need to file a suit in New York, it must take into account the time required to bring itself into compliance with the publication requirement before filing its claim You know being an entrepreneur is about taking things like this in context to what the stick is for non-compliance. If you follow every rule you will never make any money (or get elected to office, ask the Clintons). You clean up the mess later on if you have to.Bottom line is this: For the average non venture funded business in NY I’d wait to see if the business actually works before worrying about paying this money out. [1]Of course any attorney will CYA they have nothing to gain by telling you to take a chance like this.[1] Of course I would research this further before following my own advice but this is my quick take “what is the stick”: Not much.

      1. ZekeV

        Unfortunately the LLC publication requirement is one of the least onerous anachronisms of NY law. It is highly visible b/c of the obvious stupidity. But at the end of the day, it’s a simple toll to pay, just like 409A valuations which are pointless but relatively easy to get (esp. now that eShares offers subscription pricing).There are many other “features” of NY law that are worse for early-stage companies. For example, the fact that NY still has the Martin Act rather than something approximating the Uniform Securities Act is a travesty.Of course, if you ask me which other state is possibly a worse legal environment than NY — I would say, California!

    4. ShanaC

      why the law journal

      1. ZekeV

        That is a good question! Publications are selected by the County Clerk. Politics surely plays a role.

        1. ShanaC

          So I can’t select it? what if I wanted to go to the forward and pay the minimum I can get away with?

          1. ZekeV

            You can choose any newspapers you want, as long as they are on the list provided by the county clerk in the county where your company is located. Some clever people have formed LLC’s in counties upstate where publication is a lot cheaper, then filed an amendment to change their address to NYC. This is frowned upon by the state, but if you have a legit address upstate no one is going to be the wiser.

  11. Pranay Srinivasan

    I wonder how small startups can be part of this, especially given the heavy hitters in there.. always the fear of the small guys getting lost betwee inability to sponsor much / anything and infrequent participation in events.

  12. Tom Labus

    Good show on CNBC. Sometimes they want to score points instead of talking

    1. pointsnfigures

      Watched it on their website. Thought what Fred had to say was correct and some of the CNBC commentators were surprised about the support that is coming from DeBlasio. In Chicago, we have had a lot of support from Mayor Emanuel for our tech sector. Daley quasi supported it, but Emanuel has been both vocal, and actionable. I have some pretty good disagreement with a lot of policy in the city, and in the state of Illinois, but Emanuel has been a good mayor for our tech sector. I think DeBlasio can be similar in NYC.Politicians cannot build a community. It has to be entrepreneur lead. But, they can tear down a community. They can also support a community by shielding it from government. Emanuel has done a good job of running interference for startups in Chicago.Where I disagree with Fred is on Uber regulation. Not sure that just because we have regulated the livery industry for 100 years we should be regulating it anymore.

  13. falicon

    The realist in me says this is going to be a really good thing and we are all going to benefit greatly.However, the techie in me is a bit sad that this is needed at all…it seems a bit of an old-world, big and slow, and potentially expensive attempt at playing nice with government…it feels a bit like an industrial revolution approach (a worker’s union if you will) in a time when we should be more focused on fully transitioning into a information revolution (distributed & global).Again, I understand that given where and when we are in time, we have to change the system from within…so I’m on board with the approach, and it’s prob. the best path forward right now…but it doesn’t mean I love it.

    1. Matt Zagaja

      The only way the tech/innovation community will continue to make progress (and money) is to keep going outside its bubble. The solutions and ideas that seem obvious to people in tech are definitely not obvious to people outside it.

      1. falicon


    2. Matthew Zadrozny

      Two years ago when Larry Lessig was raising money for his MayDay PAC (which Fred supported), an article appeared (in Wired I think, trying to find it) arguing the tech industry was America’s last great hope, because unlike other industries it was dedicated to the proposition that things might be disrupted and not yet in bed with government. The article further argued that this window was closing. It’s my understanding a Google lobbyist now visits the White House once a week.

      1. ShanaC

        you can’t avoid the government. we all have to live together – the question is how

        1. Matthew Zadrozny

          The US is at an inflection point. (We) Americans have a choice between innovation, prosperity, democracy and rent-seeking, extortion, oligarchy. The system is sclerotic, with neither party responding to the preferences of voters, and one of the parties is on the verge imploding (see Gilens and Page: Testing Theories of American Politics:Elites, Interest Groups, and AverageCitizens: http://scholar.princeton.ed… and Larry Lessig: Republic Lost http://lesterland.lessig.or….This is reflected in diminishing affiliations and in the populism of both Trump and Sanders. Having spent two years in Argentina and studied that country’s history, I often wonder whether we aren’t in for (or already in) a long period of swings, between redistribution and diminishing civil rights, not to mention lots of nastiness. True, our institutions are stronger, and thankfully our military respects civilian command. But in the long run? Here’s some food for thought, from NYU professor and former Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Mexico:…As for Fred’s group, I’d like to think it’s benign, and I won’t deny it most likely represents my interests. Moreover, to the extent that VC’s profit from disruption, they are on the side of the plebs, and I believe FW works hard to keep the common touch, both out of humility and self-interest (because that is how you don’t miss the AirB&B’s).But said group is one of many such groups. And the net effect on the system, I think, is less than benign. Mancur Olson wrote about this — “Stable societies with unchanged boundaries tend to accumulate more collusions and organizations over time. … As the benefits secured by groups accumulate, the economy rigidifies.” — as did the British journalist Edward Luce, who quotes him here:*Note that I am no libertarian. I live in NYC. Our subway system alone, with its absurd duplication and gaps (eg, La Guardia), is living testament to the fact that for some things, central planning and coordination are better. For that matter, Hamilton himself was perfectly happy to send spies to the UK to capture trade secrets, to say nothing of his industrial policy.

          1. ShanaC

            I’m a paternalistic libertarian who like you lives in NYC, and grew up with that subway system in question (and very vaguely remembers seeing tokens being used)I think you are right on the national level. NYC as itself is a local thing. Representing city needs is very different than the state, unless you want to posit that the city is becoming the state.Still, this is no way changes that the government exists unless it suddenly doesn’t, whether through coup or a generic falling apart of society and social infrastructure. That there may be a redistribution of power, rights and responsibilities does really stop the government from existing. At some point, one has to engage with the institution, however that may be.Moreover, to the extent that VC’s profit from disruption, they are on the side of the plebs, and I believe FW works hard to keep the common touch, both out of humility and self-interest (because that is how you don’t miss the AirB&B’s).Logically contentious that disruption automatically favors the “plebes” It favors those who gain advantage by disruption, which may in some cases be “plebes” and in others “patricians” – otherwise you would also never see the outsized income that comes from the Superstar effect.(i’m can be an intellectually tricksy ny-er?)

          2. Matthew Zadrozny

            I had some of those tokens lying around until recently (shocking that Philly still uses them).What is it Jefferson said about the tree of liberty? Seriously though, it’s not a question of overthrow. It’s a question of redistributing power back to something that might be called one person one vote (as happened at the beginning of the 20th century under Teddy R). If this doesn’t happen, goodbye republic, hello instability, stupidity, stagnation, domestic insecurity.Without reading into poli sci and brushing up on econ, I’m not in a position to contest what you’re saying with much more than ideology. But I will say this: I remember visiting Poland in ’89 and seeing the utter collapse of the planned economy. Disruption may not favor the average person, but over time, it’s converse is worse. (Except with infrastructure, which requires planning, eminent domain, etc — ie, gov.)

  14. Matthew Zadrozny

    I remember a few months (years?) ago there was a “draft Fred” movement in these comments. To which the response was: ain’t gonna happen, been speaking my mind too freely on these pages for years. I wondered about that recently, in light of who the Republican front-runner is.FW is a credit to our city. Maybe he is more effective behind the scenes, lurking in the shadows only to tell us all to go enjoy the drinks and hors d’oeuvres upstairs, as on a recent fall night at the NYHS. Then again, maybe he would do the most good in public office. Hard to imagine a more qualified candidate.

  15. pointsnfigures

    Flat and open is the best for these kinds of things. Often efforts like this get hierarchy built into them. I am not speaking about the tech movement, but any movement. Networks always beat hierarchy someone once told me.

  16. Ben Mackinnon

    Love this, especially the free for small companies approach. As a founder of a young startup, 5 employees, it’s hard to stay up to date and in the know and everything happening in the broader ecosystem. Looking forward to what’s to come!

  17. JLM

    .In my life, I have formed three statewide organizations in two different industries and have participated in the creation of a fourth. They have all been successful in passing legislation and lobbying for consideration at statehouses.The key to these type of organizations is to keep them politically agnostic.If they drift in a particular direction, then they just become glorified political and/or lobbying enterprises thereby littering the land mass with another set of discordant and self-centered voices.Case in point is the Club for Growth which has lost its way and become an advocate for a particular candidate when it could have been an advocate for a set of beliefs.The tension between VCs and entrepreneurs can be a very good thing particularly if there is a mechanism to arrive at a consensus before taking a public stand. To make that tension work for the greater good, there has to be balance. That will be very difficult to achieve given the unequal resources at the startup level.Good luck with this. You will personally enjoy this and it will be good for your business if executed in an even handed manner. It can also turn into a field of landmines if allowed to become partisan.The higher one climbs the totem pole, the more of one’s ass the world sees.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. sigmaalgebra

      Wow. Wisdom from the school of Been There; Done That; Got the T-Shirt. Wow.The higher one climbs the totem pole, the more of one’s ass the world sees.Yup. One of the costs of much in success is loss of anonymity, and, while I want to be successful, I don’t look forward to paying that high cost.

    2. Alex Urevick-Ackelsberg

      Keep the politics our of political organizations! That will surely help advance the shared interests of the tech community. It’s like when you cut taxes and it magically increases revenues, it’s hard to tell if people are crazy or self interested or ? in believing such nonsense.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        Let’s see: Cut taxes to 0% and get $0.00 revenues. Raise taxes to 100%, kill the economy, and get $0.00 revenues. Somewhere in between 0% and 100% there must be a level of taxes that maximizes revenues.Why?1 Definition. In a topological space, e.g., the set of real numbers with the usual topology, a set is compact if and only if each open cover of that set has a finite subcover.2 Classic Theorem: In the real numbers, a set is compact if and only if it is closed and bounded.3 Classic Theorem: Every real valued continuous function on a compact set is bounded and achieves its least upper bound.For this classic material, see, e.g.,Bourbaki, Topology.Kelley, General Topology.Simmons, Introduction to Topology and Modern Analysis.Rudin, Principles of Mathematical Analysis.Since revenues are positive for some levels of taxes, the maximum must occur not at 100% or 0%.4 Theorem: It is possible to lower taxes and increase tax revenues.Proof: For taxes higher than where revenues are maximized and where revenues are not maximized, lowering taxes to where revenues are maximized will increase revenues. Done. QED.Simple.Any questions?Ah, mathematical economics! If Arrow, Hurwicz, and Uzawa had called me, then I could have solved their problem! Unfair, so unfair — Arrow and Hurwicz got their prizes and I haven’t yet!Once my Ph.D. adviser suggested I take a course in economics. So, in the first lecture, I listened carefully. Then after the lecture and alone with the prof, I asked him what he was assuming about his freehand supply and demand curves — Lebesgue measurable, continuous, differentiable, differentiable almost everywhere with respect to Lebesgue measure, continuously differentiable, infinitely differentiable, monotone, convex, pseudo-convex, quasi-convex, upper/lower semi-continuous?References:Rudin, Real and Complex Analysis.Royden, Real Analysis.Mangasarian, Nonlinear Programming.Zangwill, Nonlinear Programming.Later that day my adviser said I “was out of the econ course”. Good riddance.

    3. creative group

      JLM:This post is idealistic and utopia at the least with the current political and divisive climate. Lobbying organizations are not immune from political slants. Make the upvotes aware of that.Every Chamber of Commerce should promote business and not the Right wing agenda which is the reality.Let’s read history as it really is verses how we want it to be.#trueindependants #twopartysystemsucks

      1. JLM

        .You are conflating Federal and State politics.Still, let me give you an example of how it works.Sen Bernie Sanders is a powerful member of the Sen Veterans Affairs Committee.He is a wild eyed liberal (though he self-identified as an Independent and caucused with the Democrats) as well as an anti-war advocate having been a conscientious objector during the Viet Nam War. He voted against the Iraq War. HRC voted for it.I am interested in veterans affairs — primarily compensation, longevity, and the Veterans Administration.As a conscientious objector, I think he compensates for his behavior by being very supportive of veterans issues. Though I agree with him on nothing else, I would write to him about veterans matters and he would reply.His voting record shows that he was supportive of my views.Another example is a relationship I had with Rep Lloyd Doggett, an extremely liberal member of the Congress. We would regularly have lunch and we agreed never to speak about liberal issues. We had delightful discussions about the military and fiscal prudence.In those examples, I would never let my personal political views impact the efforts I was making in regard to my cause.Sometimes, it is very finely dissected, indeed. I used to coach the daughter of Cecile Richards (Pres of Planned Parenthood) and granddaughter of Gov Ann Richards. We had a delightful relationship.I oppose PP as hard as I can except I do think their other services — not abortion — are quite useful.I used to like Karl Rove and now I hate him.One has to pick one’s fights. One has to land a blow where and when they can.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. creative group

          JLM:On an individual basis (not representing or influencing millions of people your example is duly noted). But the needle to adjust the stated post didn’t move a hair.We are Independent and have been from first day of registering to vote. Admittedly having no idea what we were doing at eighteen. It worked out. Both parties have extreme views and based upon our reading you hold one of those views.The majority of things consumed or adopted in life not in moderation is harmful.

          1. JLM

            .Haha, the only thing in the middle of the road is dead armadillos.In politics, one has to take a stand which requires one to pick a side.Like the engineers who designed the Titanic learned, in life the results count.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    4. Lawrence Brass

      Very interesting point. Thinking loosely about the company and products I have been working on, and on the personality and culture I would like to infuse to the company, I sometimes feel that it is difficult to define a certain position without being political. It is very clear to me that a company is an independent entity, specially when investors are on board. I want to work in an multicultural, diverse and political environment. Obviously not partisan. Can this be done without turning partisan somewhere down the road?

      1. JLM

        .Perhaps I have been a little too subtle.I am not suggesting that YOU are not political. I am suggesting that YOUR political leanings not flavor the position of the company or become the color of the company itself.The CEO or C suite folk should subordinate their own views to that of the company.I would not take a public position while holding my CEO biz card in my hand.For years and years, I was the Precinct Chair and Election Judge and member of the Travis County Republican Party Executive Committee without letting that info leak into my role with any organization — Real Estate Council of Austin — which might take a public role in any potentially politically contentious issue such as school bonds.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  18. Stephen Voris

    Some months ago I commented to a friend that programming and law have certain similarities – and that the practice of law could stand to learn a thing or two about documentation and debugging from the practice of programming. I half-jokingly suggested #codersforcongress as a campaign theme… and I still don’t know how serious I am about that.

  19. sigmaalgebra

    Ah, “Be wise. Generalize.” So, Tech:NYC –> Tech:SV –> … –> Tech:USA –> Tech:World –> Tech:Galaxy –> Tech:Universe. Now, we just need to get BitCoin to work faster than the speed of light so that Tech:Universe can collect dues!

  20. sigmaalgebra

    Wow, Fred. Wow. Looks like you aimed high.Ah, once I get my project out of Alpha test, maybe I’ll join and try to get the people I meet there part of my beta test. Just added joining to my TODO list for beta test, publicity, early users, etc.

  21. Alex Urevick-Ackelsberg

    Do you need to be based in NYC, or just have a presence in the city, in order to participate? We are opening an outpost in the city currently, and it seems like it would be great to tie in my tech and political connections.To JLM and others who say that a political organization should be agnostic, that’s the opposite of the point. No politician cares about what you have to say unless you can move the needle on voters, media attention, or $$$. A political organization has to engage in electoral politics and legislation, or it has no real purpose.

    1. JLM

      .My personal experience lobbying politicians in four different states simultaneously taught me a good lesson — focus on getting the law changed, not on the partisan politics of the situation.This is not about what the politician thinks, this is about drafting a law, getting bi-partisan sponsorship, getting it calendared, getting it out of subcommittee/committee through a public hearing, and getting it to the floor of the House and Senate — and, perhaps getting it to a joint committee to get it compromised, voted into law, and signed by the Governor.It will usually require votes from Reps/Senators from both parties. You simply cannot cut yourself from any pool of votes.When dealing with state legislatures, the geographical tie of the legislation may bridge all opposition. As an example, a law which impacts cities differently than rural areas can get all the elected officials from the cities to support it while being opposed by every rural legislator.This doesn’t break along partisan lines, it is the cities v the ranches/farms.Donald Trump is Exhibit No. 1 wherein he supported EVERYONE knowing that he may need SOME of them. He just doesn’t know ahead of time which ones.If you take a hard political stance, such as the Club for Growth has done, you alienate some elected officials thereby ensuring they will never support anything you propose. Ever.I used to sponsor the South Carolina Congressional Black Caucus annual picnic for years and years. They are very Democrat in a state which has a Republican majority. My lawyer, a war hero type, was the Dem minority head. My lobbyists were all Republican BSD (big swinging dicks).I would get legislation passed without the support of ultra conservative, Bible thumping Republicans by getting the support of the Black Caucus. My BSDs could not get that support. They were too partisan. Too political.An industry group, that wants to be effective, doesn’t have the luxury of being political. They have to be agnostic and within their organization, they have to have members who can work both sides of the aisle.Also, many states in the US Congress will have a state centric legislative caucus. The State of Texas US Congressional delegation caucuses by itself. When an oil & gas subject comes up, good luck telling the Dems from the Republicans. They are Texans.What you are describing is checkers. It hasn’t been that easy for a long, long, long time. It is and has been three dimensional chess for a long time.The direct connection that you suggest — voters, media attention, dollars — is not a direct connection. Pass good legislation that appeals to the voters (thereby getting votes for the legislators, sponsors) and the donor class and it will take care of itself. AFTER THE FACT.No group I was ever engaged with ever reached for its own pocketbook. But after I got what I wanted, I’d pass the hat and raise money for a legislator who had been helpful, sometimes regardless of their party. When I didn’t want to do it, I got someone else to do it.Trolling $$$ in front of legislation or legislators is a felony. The game is played a lot more subtly than that.It is often just as much about blocking legislation as it is about passing legislation. It is about personal relationships. I once got the legislative right hand of a Lt Gov to put a piece of legislation in his desk drawer until it was too late to be introduced in that session by pointing out that the company lusting after it had supported the Lt Gov’s opponent the last time around. The company was a huge enterprise and I was one person.I made the connection through a zealously Dem lobbyist who I got along with because we had served in similar military units.I once was a lone voice against an industry in which I was involved and got the Gov to veto the legislation on a date which was so late in the term, the proponents could not get an override vote scheduled.It is not missionary work. It is not proselytizing. It is getting to the right number of votes and nothing more.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. sigmaalgebra

        Thanks. Nicely, clearly done. Fantastic. Real world politics 201-202.Once again, at AVC, not all time on blogs is wasted!Reading that was like learning a lot of Russian in five minutes where started not knowing even nyet. Never got a hint of all that from reading millions of words from the news media over decades. E.g., one summer between two years in grad school, I was with my parents in DC and, trying to learn, each day read The Washington Post; at the end of the summer, I concluded I hadn’t learned hardly anything worthwhile and had wasted my time.My brother got his Ph.D. in political science and never told me anything like all that.My wife got her Ph.D. in sociology, really, in a department that was trying to be mathematical, statistical, and scientific. Well sociology is supposed to be a scientific study of groups of people and study of “rules, roles, and relationships” (for some awful alliteration). And my wife’s research was on political influentials. Still, I don’t think she ever encountered any such view of roles in groups where politics was important.My wife’s father, Captain, US Army, ran a Rural Electric Membership Cooperative (REMC) and rose quickly in both Indiana and DC in the REMC community. He and I talked a lot about how to get things done, including politics, but he was never as clear as the post here.The post is likely also darned good information to know for, as CEO of my startup, to borrow from Erving Goffman, my presentation of myself before the public and the political system.I’ve already understood that my startup — in search, recommendation, and discovery of content on the Internet, which easily could become partisan — should not be seen as partisan.Now I see that I, as CEO of my startup, should also not be seen as partisan. Apparently I should keep my partisan activities on a secret ballot inside the voting booths.Read, saved, abstracted, indexed.If my startup is successful, I may need to understand those points and the general description of how such things work.

      2. Alex Urevick-Ackelsberg

        I agree completely with how you’ve laid it out, and I guess I was misinterpreting your original statement. I don’t ever really see much philosophical/ideological partisan politics on the local level, it’s much more about government services than it is about government’s role in the economy or our personal lives.Regarding moving people and money, I didn’t mean in a direct “money waving” way, I meant more along the lines of what you’re saying here.

  22. creative group

    Contributors, Entrepreneurs, Influencers and Disrupters:We celebrate the youth for ideas and vision and now we should acknowledge our inventors/engineers who continue to make a difference in their golden years.

  23. Lawrence Brass

    I like the concept a lot, Congratulations. We will join when everything is in place.