The Anchor Tenant

Malls need anchor tenants. These are the stores that bring the folks to the mall so that they can discover all of the other amazing places to shop that sit between the big tenants.

Cities need the same. Particularly cities that are trying to develop new industries.

NYC’s tech sector has had an anchor tenant since the early 2000s in Google. I wrote a bit about this a few years ago and cited my partner Albert’s line that 111 8th Avenue (Google’s NYC HQ) is the “gift that Google gave NYC.

Big anchor tenants to a tech ecosystem provide all sorts of benefits but the biggest impacts are that they are both talent magnets (they attract people to relocate to the region) and talent sources (you can recruit from them).

Rumor has it that NYC is going to get a second anchor tenant as Long Island City is apparently a strong candidate to be one of two locations for Amazon’s HQ2. This would result in something like 25,000 new jobs for the NYC tech sector.

And another rumor is that Google is going to purchase the massive St John’s Terminal in the West Village and take its NYC workforce up to 20,000 over the next few years.

If both of these things happen, and that is still a big if, then NYC’s tech sector would have two large and well known anchor tenants. Together they would speak for about 10% of the jobs of the entire NYC tech sector.

I have had a front row seat to watch the emergence of the NYC tech sector over the last thirty years. It started as a trickle, then a stream, then a river, and it’s feeling more and more like an ocean.

NYC has responded well to the challenges of supporting a rapidly growing new industry with investments in infrastructure (real estate, connectivity, etc) and talent/education (CS4All, Cornell Tech, NYU Tandon, etc). Some areas have been lacking like transportation where we need better subways, better airports, and better regional rail systems.

I am hopeful that the continued growth of the NYC tech sector and the overall regional economy will give our elected officials and permanent bureaucracy the will and the resources to address these deficiencies and allow the NYC region to continue to develop into one of the most important tech sectors in the world.