Ed Sim, a managing director at Dawntreader Ventures, is back from the Bay Area, where he avoided Web 2.0 but did go to MySpace’s party… and found a vibrant New York tech scene. You can read a longer version of this post at Ed’s blog.
What I enjoyed most was bumping into many of the original New York entrepreneurs that I have known over the last 10 years. In a scary way, it felt like it was 1997 all over again, and we were at a Manhattan networking event about our first startups.
Jeff Stewart who was part of the Proxicom rollup and founded Mimeo and now Monitor110, said that everywhere he turned he ran into another New York entrepreneur. Standing next to me was Andrew Erlichson, founder of Flashbase (sold to Doubleclick) who I funded years ago and is now CEO of Phanfare; across the room was Andrew Weinreich of sixdegrees and now meetmoi; on yet another side of the room was Jason Calacanis of the Silicon Alley Reporter, Weblogs and now Mahalo. While he is in LA now, I still count him as an original New York entrepreneur. Jeff and i tried to organise a group picture but just could not make it happen.
You may be thinking to yourself: Who cares? Why is Ed namedropping? There is a simple answer – I have known many of these guys for the last dozen or so years, and it is simply awesome to see everyone still plugging away, following their passions, getting smarter and better, and continuing to build the New York entrepreneurial ecosystem.
I know we are no Silicon Valley, but it is great to see these entrepreneurs all working on their second and third companies. It was also great to hear their stories of raising their first or second or third rounds of capital for their most recent companies.
When I started as a VC in 1996 and first met many of these entrepreneurs, it was clear that we were all starting from scratch. We didn’t know what we didn’t know. What we had was energy and passion.
And while the “Silicon Alley” movement was pure hype and ridiculous, those of us who have stuck around have learned a lot, and we are on the cusp of doing some great things. We now have energy, passion, and grey hair — which is a great combination.
I said it before in my NYC 2.0 pitch a couple years ago: I believe that everyday our world here is getting more and more important as the media companies and advertisers try to make sense of this new era. As companies like Google and AOL and others continue to build a bigger and stronger presence here, it will continue to make us better.
I have already seen my first couple of spinouts from the Google New York office, and I expect to see many more. But it is many of these guys that I hung out with above who were some of the original pioneers in New York that have helped blaze a path for many of the new entrepreneurs we are seeing today. When the bubble popped, they didn’t quit and go home. They continued to fight and continued to build new companies, and for that we should all be thankful, because today the New York ecosystem is building and getting stronger. The funny part is that I had to travel 3000 miles from home to have this revelation.
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