Does Silicon Alley Need Bloomberg's Help?

In a word: No. But it’s interesting to hear that Mayor Mike, or at least Katherine Oliver, who runs the city’s high-profile film and tv division, has taken an interest in the city’s digital business ecosystem.

Katherine’s office is in charge of convincing film and tv productions to shoot in NYC (blame her when you can’t cross the street because they’re filming another episode of Law and Order: SVU). Last Tuesday she gathered a group of the city’s digital movers and shakers for an informal breakfast meeting to “get to know the digital media industry and to understand what their needs are” (prepared quote via her press office). We don’t have a full list of attendees, but we hear there were around 15, including:

Brad Burnham, Union Square Ventures
Bob Greenberg, R/GA
Scott Heiferman, Meetup
J Moses, UGO
Dominic Preuss, Google NYC
Herb Scannell, Next New Networks

So what did these worthies talk about?

Apparently, the same thing we often hear people talking about as we’re out and about: What makes the city attractive to digital businesses; what would make it more attractive; how can NYC recruit and keep technical talent, etc.

Some attendees noted that NYC has a huge, but nearly anonymous digital sector — the companies helping Madison Avenue transition to the Web. Others argued that a lack of cutting-edge technologists shouldn’t be a problem for NYC going forward, since the next big boom will be more media-centric then tech-centric.

Takeaways: Nothing specific. Thankfully, Katherine wasn’t canvassing attendees for proposals about what the city itself could do. But the conversation, combined with NY Mag’s “sad-assed backwater” story, apparently did get Scott Heiferman’s juices going — he quickly penned a lengthy (for him) post on his blog, which is well worth reading. Money quotes:

New York should feel loser-ish for having not made a Google, eBay, YouTube or Facebook. I do.

Instead, New York is self-confident because it makes the TV commercials (who cares), it’s got Wall Street and hedge funds (no real value-creation), and Time Inc and Conde Nast are here (old farts). New York’s economy is made of increasingly irrelevant and/or unsustainable and/or uninteresting cash cows and cash machines…

The best example of a Silicon Valley Company in New York is Bloomberg. Like Google, eBay, and Facebook, Bloomberg isn’t a media company. Mayor Mike should be a role model to New York’s aspiring entrepreneurs. Instead, they’re too interested in media moguls. New York loves its content and it’s “creatives”. That’s why it didn’t make a Google, eBay, YouTube, or Facebook.

We have the feeling we’ll be having this conversation for quite a while. And if you want to bring it up with either Scott or Katherine, they’ll both be at NY Tech Meetup tonight.

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