Silicon Valley Postcard: NY Expats Want To Come Home


Greg Galant, CEO of News Groper and executive producer of Venture Voice, is just off the red-eye after a three-stop, week-long California trip: Greg dropped in on DEMO in San Diego, the Podcast Expo in L.A., then stopped in Silicon Valley to meet with investors. We asked him to keep an eye on NY-based companies who were making an impression on the West Coast and report back.

DEMO was energizing as always. It’s rare to see so many companies launch in such a short period of time. DEMO didn’t generate the noise of TechCrunch40, and there was a feeling that it lacked some of its usual vigor as a result of the newfound competition. But DEMO always delivers a great variety of startups beyond just typical web apps – this year including a “Web 2.0” slot machine. It had no shortage of journalists or VCs either.

There were many foreign accents on stage at DEMO, but few New York accents. On DEMO’s list of attendees there were more than 10 international companies, but only 4 New York companies listed. And it turned out one of those — Exalead — was really a French company.

The New York companies there were full of piss and vinegar, mostly offering ambitious consumer products – not your typical NY-based ad network. Attendi bills itself as a search company and helps people find information by enabling real-time chat rooms. SpaceTime is a 3D web browser. Phreesia offers patients a free check-in solution in the physician’s waiting room.

I couldn’t help but be reminded of my coverage of VideoEgg exactly two years ago at DEMO for Venture Voice. At the time VideoEgg consisted mostly of three recent Yale grads, still based in New Haven and debating whether to move out to the Bay Area or into New York. After getting wooed by Sand Hill Road VCs at DEMO, they chose the former and deprived NYC of what would become one of the major players in online video.

Would the NYC ecosystem have been able to provide VideoEgg with the capital and talent they needed to get where they are today? Have things changed from two years ago?

Most of the Silicon Valley-based VCs I talked to didn’t have any idea what was going on in the NYC tech economy. No one had heard of the NY Tech Meetup or Silicon Alley Insider (sorry, Peter and Henry).

I met with many NYC expats on my trip who’ve gone on to work at VC-rich West Coast startups. All of them said they wanted to come back to New York, for lifestyle as much as anything else. How long can you go without a good bagel? Surprisingly, I heard Brooklyn mentioned more times than Manhattan when they talked about the NYC startups they were following. (Full disclosure — my company’s based in Dumbo) Take note, NYC talent-starved startups: You should recruit on the West Coast.