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Summary:

Can New York City be a major-league player in tech without a high profile IPO? City advocates think so, and point to the city’s “dash tech” and recent success versus other hubs

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New York City doesn’t need a Google or Facebook-type public offering to show the world it’s a major technology hub. That’s the view, anyways, of a group of city boosters and entrepreneurs engaged in Gotham’s latest PR blitz to burnish its tech creds.

Speaking at Bloomberg LLC headquarters on Thursday morning, Alan Patricof of Greycroft Partners rejected the idea that New York needs a “big win” to show it can be a real rival to Silicon Valley. Patricof noted that New York companies like Buddy Media could have gone public but were acquired instead; he added that tech giants like Facebook, Google and AOL all employ thousands in the city.

Other speakers touted New York’s recent climb in relation to other cities.

“New York has surpassed Boston as the clear number two,” said Jonathan Bowles of the Center for an Urban Future. Others said that, outside of biotech, Boston has “lost luster” as a tech hub.

Ann Li, an economic advocate for the city, added that, unlike Silicon Valley, New York is not just about “tech” but instead “dash tech” — for example, “ad tech,” “fit tech” and “fashion tech.”

The boosters did concede, however, that New York still doesn’t offer the same financial support for tech as the west coast.

“There’s a dearth of B-round funding,” said Patricof. “There’s not enough $10 million or $15 million rounds.”

Patricof attributed the money deficit to the presence of too many angel investors and too many copycat startups. But he noted that, unlike venture capitalist Fred Wilson, who famously didn’t make a “single new investment “ last year,  Greycroft invested in 18 companies. Patricof also predicted that several New York ad tech companies would go public in 2013.

As for whether New York will ultimately displace Silicon Valley as the pre-eminent tech hub, that seems unlikely — and it’s not just a question of venture capital or talent. Like Hollywood, which other cities have tried to replicate for decades, the Valley has an intangible people quality that defies duplication.

  1. What a way to set low expectations.

    Frankly, it’s hard to get excited about either Boston or New York. The problem is that investors on the East Coast (and indeed, most places) are too negative toward entrepreneurs. Sure, they claim that they love founders and innovation, but when it comes to actually putting their money down, they are pessimistic and downright uncooperative.

    As a Boston native, I hate to say it but people in the Valley are just more open and ready to help one another. For all the Silicon Alleys, Silicon Dominions, Silicon Fens, Silicon Beaches, and Silicon Prairies that others may claim , there is only one Valley, and that’s really kind of sad, because 1) Boston is where it all started, and 2) a bit more optimism would be good for everyone.

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