NYC tech boosters say city doesn’t need a big IPO; beating Boston is enough

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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.

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