Each year, the office of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg designates a week in the fall as "Digital Technology Week," the same week that encompasses Ziff Davis Media's DigitalLife gadget and entertainment expo and a swarm of smaller conferences and parties.
Last year, CNET News.comwith the angle that it seemed a bit out of place for a city with such a small technology scene to be hosting a major consumer technology show and highlighting new-media events around town. Finding tech culture in New York in 2006 took a little bit of digging, as traditional mainstays like the advertising and finance industries all but overshadowed it.
Not so much anymore. Since last year's Digital Technology Week, a lot has changed. As Jake Dobkin, publisher of New York news blog Gothamist likes to put it: "Nerds are on the rise. We're taking over."
"New York has stepped up because more and more media (companies) are interested in technology," said Charlie O'Donnell, a former analyst at Union Square Ventures who now is working on an education-centered start-up called Path 101 and spearheads NextNY, a networking group for New Yorkers involved in digital industries of any kind. "It's the same sort of thing around financial services. Any tech firm that's doing anything around financial services is really big in New York."
Big tech companies have been slowly expanding their footprints in the New York real estate market: dot-com conglomerate InterActiveCorp (IAC) opened its
At the same time, the hip downtown niche of SoHo, best-known for art galleries and designer shopping boutiques, seems to be growing geekier by the day. The neighborhood is now practically saturated with tech start-ups like Blip Networks and Mogulus, as well as new media publishers like Gawker Media, the Huffington Post, Flavorpill Productions, Gothamist, Apartment Therapy, and the
"Honestly, the neighborhood only has about five restaurants and three gyms and three or four bars," Dobkin said. "It's just swimming with these 10 or 15 (new media) companies, so if you want to go out for lunch and not see somebody, you have to go like, above 14th Street." In Manhattan terms, that's a hike. "It's really hard to keep secrets," Dobkin added with a laugh.
As the New York tech scene grows, so does the press. In July, a cadre of finance and technology veterans launched the Silicon Alley Insider, a blog offering news and analysis about "digital business, live from New York" from start-ups to the interactive initiatives of traditional media companies. And last Friday, TechCrunch founder and Bay Area icon Michael Arrington announced that his new co-editor would be the Brooklyn-based Erick Schonfeld, whom he plucked out of the ashes of the defunct Business 2.0 magazine. To be fair, it does not appear that Schonfeld will be working a specifically geographic beat. But it's telling that TechCrunch, a brand almost synonymous with Silicon Valley's post-bust revival and the Web 2.0 era, will let its newest editor remain on the East Coast.