NYC sees progress in quest to become tech capital
‘‘It’s a much more diverse atmosphere, and I think diversity is always important to creativity,’’ says Avner Ronen, a co-founder of Boxee, a Manhattan-based company that makes devices for watching TV and video. ‘‘I like the fact that not everybody I meet and talk to is involved in a technology company.’’
Still, even New York enthusiasts acknowledge there can be downsides.
While the competition for engineers and other talent is a complaint throughout the tech world, it doesn’t help to be across the country from several of the universities best known for producing them. New York officials expect the new Cornell, Columbia and NYU programs to help.
And some tech entrepreneurs say broadband service is subpar or simply unavailable in some older, often formerly industrial buildings attractive to startups. A snide Twitter account has lamented broadband woes on Manhattan’s tech-heavy 21st Street. Chris Dixon, a founder of Hunch, a recommendation engine now owned by eBay, pronounced Manhattan’s service ‘‘embarrassing’’ on his personal blog in December.
The city has since announced plans to rank some office buildings’ broadband service, and officials started accepting applications last week for a new contest for small and medium-sized businesses to get wired for free.
For all that, it will be difficult for New York — or anywhere — to match Silicon Valley’s decades-deep grounding in technology innovation, said AnnaLee Saxenian, the dean of the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley, and the author of a book about Silicon Valley.
Still, she said, ‘‘there’s nothing in the economy that says you can’t have tech startups in both places doing well.’’
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