Congrats to New York-based  MongoDB that went public on the Nasdaq on Thursday, finishing the day at $32.07, up 34 percent above its IPO price of $24.  The IPO netted $192 million for the company and valued it at about $1.18 billion – wrote TechCrunch -. By the end of the day’s trading, the market cap was about $1.6 billion.

The MongoDB team celebrates their IPO at the Nasdaq MarketSite in Times Square

 

MongoDB was backed by Sequoia Capital, Flybridge Capital and Union Square Ventures. This is what we wrote in 2013 about MongoDB in “Tech and the City”, chapter 19 “Beyond Consumer Web: What’s Next?”:

“In the first 10, 15 years of the Internet, New York became very strong or even dominant in the consumer-facing Internet companies’ world. But in enterprise software, San Francisco is still the dominant place for now. Nevertheless, you’re starting to see the 10gens of the world come up,” notes Kevin Ryan, co-founder of 10gen, often cited as an example for a new generation of startups emerging in New York.
The product 10gen is famous for, MongoDB, is an open source software for managing databases whose genesis is linked to the New York advertising world. In fact it was developed starting in 2007 by the co-founder and former chief technology officer of DoubleClick, Dwight Merriman, with one of DoubleClick’s R&D engineers, Eliot Horowitz.
Fred Wilson recalls the birth of MongoDB: “It came out of the scalability problems that DoubleClick had. They were serving 70-80% percent of the display ads on the Internet, and, as the Internet kept growing, they had to serve more and more display ads and constantly ran into problems, taking the technology of that time and getting it to operate at the scale they needed it. So they believed that someone had to create an Internet scale database from the ground up. The founders of MongoDB just happened to live here in New York, they got this experience working for DoubleClick and said, ‘This is a problem that has to get solved,’ and they went on to solve it in New York. That’s a company that you more likely would see in Silicon Valley, but the fact that they were successful in creating that company here suggests that you can build that kind of company in New York, and there probably will be more of these kind of companies here. But it’s still not the thing that New York is known for, and it won’t probably be for quite a while.”
Ryan is more confident: “The perception is still that for hardcore technologies you need to be in San Francisco, but that perception is going to change in the next few years. The talent is here, and 10gen is the first example of such a company. Six years from now, I bet there will be three other companies in New York, probably from people who worked at 10gen at some point, young engineers who broke off and started their own thing that will add to the growth in that area. San Francisco is in its seventh generation of entrepreneurs, while New York is in its second or third, so of course we’re much smaller than San Francisco in enterprise software. It really boils down to talent.”

 

Good news for the NYC startup scene: one IPO will be launched on June 28, and two others will be ready soon.

Blue Apron, the meal ingredient delivery service, goes public on June 29, listed on the NYSE under the symbol “APRN”. Its stock price will be between $10-11, which gives the company a market value of just under $2 billion, a significant lower valuation compared to expectations, writes TechCrunch.

Vice Media has raised $450M ahead of a potential IPO, writes again TechCrunch: the deal values the media company around $5.7 billion post-money.

And Casper, the most prominent of a new generation of mattress makers, Raises $170 Million and Plans I.P.O., says The New York Times. 

Philip Krim, chief executive of Casper

Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island

The Campus of Cornell Tech is almost ready to open!

Giovedì scorso New Lab – il nuovo spazio per startup a Brooklyn – ha annunciato che 14 delle sue società partecipano a una iniziativa della New York City Economic Development Corporation per generare tecnologia che risolva sfide urbanistiche, dalla congestione del traffico alla coltivazione di cibo “locale”.

Il New York Times parla di un “rinascimento dell’hardware” a Brooklyn. Dentro il New Lab c’e’ anche la startup Zago co-fondata dall’italiano Manuel Toscano, di cui ho parlato su StartupItalia! due anni fa. Ecco la storia:

Se la vostra startup è nel settore della nuova manifattura leggera e usa macchine come le stampanti 3D, e se nel vostro orizzonte c’è il mercato americano, “il posto dove essere” è il Navy Yard a Brooklyn, New York. Era il cantiere navale della marina militare americana, creato nel 1801 dal presidente John Adams. Durante la seconda guerra mondiale ci lavoravano 70 mila newyorkesi a costruire e riparare migliaia di navi. Poi la decadenza e la chiusura nel 1966, con il tentativo di rilanciarlo come parco industriale. La rinascita vera decolla nel 2001 sotto la gestione della Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation (BNYDC), l’agenzia della Città di New York che ha deciso di diversificare le attività puntando in particolare sulle nuove tecnologie e sulla manifattura “verde”.

Navy New Lab New York

La nuova vita del Navy Yard

Oggi il Navy Yard ospita circa 300 imprese con 6 mila dipendenti. Ci sono gli studios cinematografici Steiner, dove si girano le scene di alcuni dei programmi tv di maggior successo negli Usa come “The Good Wife”. E aziende futuristiche come FCRC Modular, che fabbrica grattacieli come fossero casette di Lego. Uno dei capannoni più storici si sta trasformando in un grande spazio per startup: il New Lab. Mi ha portato a visitarlo Manuel Toscano, designer e consulente italiano che da quando aveva 15 anni vive negli Stati uniti: una delle sue creazioni, lo Spuni è nata nello spazio Beta del New Lab.

“Spuni è nato quasi per scherzo, un sabato mattina, chiacchierando con il mio amico Marcel Botha, un designer industriale laureato al MIT e specializzato nel settore medico”, racconta Manuel, che 18 anni fa ha ottenuto il master in Fotografia alla School of visual arts di New York. “Io ero alle prese con lo svezzamento di mio figlio. Marcel e io abbiamo disegnato un cucchiaino ‘miracoloso’: non fa sbrodolare o sputare i bimbi, perché è curvato in modo da toccare la parte superiore della bocca che, stimolata in questo modo, si chiude e succhia il cibo come il latte dal capezzolo”.
Navy New Lab New York

I progetti dei makers newyorkesi

Manuel e Marcel si sono finanziati con una campagna su Indiegogo raccogliendo 40 mila dollari per iniziare la produzione, che per ora è fatta in Germania. Spuni è già disponibile online e in molti negozi, anche in Italia. “Ne vendiamo 3 mila per settimana, ma puntiamo a 1 milione l’anno per arrivare al breakeven – continua Manuel -. Intanto stiamo mettendo a punto altri tre prodotti, sempre per bambini, questa volta per somministrare medicine omeopatiche in modo alternativo e friendly”.

Nello spazio beta del New Lab lavorano già molte startup e anche imprese più avanzate. I due fondatori sono David Belt, imprenditore immobiliare con la sua società Macro Sea (fra i suoi progetti realizzati c’è un grande co-working space a Filadelfia) e Scott Cohen, artista, fotografo, cineasta e imprenditore.
“Due anni fa David e io siamo stati invitati dalla BNYDC a visitare questa struttura e a immaginare come rivitalizzarla – mi spiega Scotto, mentre mi fa vedere il grande capannone dove fervono i lavori per trasformarlo nel New Lab -. Abbiamo pensato alla sua storia: qui hanno costruito navi famose come la USS Connecticut (la capofila della Great White Fleet del presidente Theodore Roosevelt) o la USS Arizona (affondata nel 1941 dai giapponesi). Sapevamo che un sacco di gente a New York lavora nel settore tecnologico e in particolare nella manifattura avanzata, ma mancano spazi e strumenti adatti. Così abbiamo progettato un centro per incubare e incoraggiare la rinascita di una nuova manifattura nel Navy Yard di Brooklyn”.

L’aiuto della città di New York

Ma il progetto originale aveva costi esorbitanti, che Scott e David non potevano sostenere da soli. “Abbiamo allora elaborato un budget responsabile e cercato il sostegno di partner pubblici – continua Scott -: ce l’hanno dato sia la Città sia lo Stato di New York con grants (finanziamenti a fondo perduto) e in più abbiamo goduto di incentivi fiscali federali. Il tutto, insieme agli investimenti privati dei nostri partner, e a quelli della BNYDC, ci ha permesso di realizzare la ristrutturazione”. In ballo ci sono decine di milioni di dollari. I lavori dovrebbero essere finiti entro quest’autunno.

“Più avanti questa primavera o all’inizio dell’estate apriremo la possibilità di far domanda per entrare nel New Lab – annuncia Scott -. Il costo per i residenti con spazio privato sarà circa 35-45 dollari per piede quadrato, il che comprende non solo l’affitto ma anche l’uso delle stampanti 3D e degli altri strumenti per fabbricare prototipi e prodotti, oltre a tutti i servizi del Lab. Offriamo anche soluzioni di co-working per chi ha bisogno solo di una scrivania, e formule flessibili”.
Navy New Lab New York
“Abbiamo già dimostrazioni di interesse e richieste da tutto il mondo, anche dall’Italia – continua Scott -. I criteri per la selezione e l’accettazione delle domande li stiamo ancora sviluppando. Avremo delle piccole squadre di consulenti che ci aiuteranno nelle valutazioni. I settori di attività che vogliamo ospitare sono tutti quelli legati alla nuova manifattura leggera, dalla robotica al nanotech, dall’industrial design all’engineering. Di sicuro non accettiamo chi ha solo un’idea: dev’esserci già un prototipo di prodotto innovativo e il finanziamento di angel investors”.

Uno spazio aperto a nuove proposte

Nello spazio Beta ci sono fin d’ora diverse aziende non americane. Molti imprenditori che vi operano sono legati a scuole di ingegneria e design, in particolare al MIT, alla Carnegie Mellon University, al Polytechnic di New York.
Per avere altre informazioni e inoltrare proposte preliminari scrivete qui: http://newlab.com/membership/ .

 

 

New York City is being transformed by universities’ huge investments in projects that put together “applied sciences” and “entrepreneurship”, write The New York Times.

“Private and public universities have been spending a robust $2 billion a year in construction costs, according to the New York Building Congress. The Cornell and N.Y.U. initiatives alone could generate $33 billion in activity over the next three decades, according to the city’s Economic Development Corporation.

The Renzo Piano-designed Lenfest Center for the Arts, center, and Jerome L. Greene Science Center, right.

Columbia’s 17-acre, $6.3 billion Manhattanville campus is scheduled to open in May: the two initial anchors are the Jerome L. Greene Science Center and the Lenfest Center for the Arts.

Opening this summer is Cornell’s 12-acre, $2 billion technology campus on Roosevelt Island, established in a partnership with Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. Companies and start-ups will work alongside Cornell researchers, who are now temporarily working out of the Google building, in Chelsea.

The third major project — to be unveiled in the fall — is N.Y.U.’s $350 million plan, part of an ambitious push into Brooklyn and beyond: it’s an innovation hub for engineering, applied science, urban science, digital technology, and digital media arts.

 

 

Congratulations to Brian Frumberg – founder of VentureOut – for his new initiatives: VentureOut Launch, a new long-form incubator program; and the partnership with SparkLabs, the global club for innovators.

So the offices of VentureOut have moved to Spark Labs, 25 W 39th St., 14th Floor: “We will be cohosting many of their awesome event series focused on international tech and investing – says Brian -. We have also a new partnership with Invitalia for all of our future Italian programs. We also are looking to launch a 2-month accelerator for Invitalia startups. And, I’m speaking with Eataly about running a corporate innovation program with them. Lots of Italy happening all around VentureOut!”.

Next Italian program, hosted by Why Italy matters to the World (Italian business & Investment Initiative), will be a “One-week hyper accelerator for Italian Startups” from May 21st to May 26th. You can apply here.

Finally: VentureOut is hiring a new program manager (see description and apply here).

“It was the Sputnik moment in the 1950s and ‘60s that triggered a lot of US government’s investments in science and technology. Unfortunately after the Cold War the public commitment to fund basic research has been continuously decreasing”. Andrew (Andrea) Viterbi said so at the presentation of his memoir “Reflections of an Educator, Researcher and Entrepreneur”, published by Centro Primo Levi.

We talked about his long career as a scientist, businessman, investor, and philanthropist; and about his triple identity as a Jew, an Italian and an American.

Viterbi was born in Bergamo in 1935, but he and his family left Italy in 1939 after the racial laws against Jews. He grew up in Boston, studied Electrical engineering at MIT, then Digital communication at the University of Southern California. He is famous for his Viterbi Algorithm (1967) and for being the co-founder of Qualcomm (1985), one of the largest tech companies in the world. Qualcomm’s core technology for mobile phone communications has bettered the lives of billions: it relies on a method Viterbi developed for separating information from background noise. All four international standards for third-generation digital cellular communications use the Viterbi Algorithm, as do most digital satellite communication systems. That’s why Viterbi was awarded the prestigious National Medal of Science by the President of US.

From March 2000 on Viterbi has been “an amateur venture capitalist”, investing in about 40 startups, with “a respectable outcome”, he explains in his memoir. About his experience as a VC he writes: “The ‘club’ of technology venture investors, of which I had become an unofficial member, is motivated first and foremost by making money and far less by the excitement of bringing forth new products and services through scientific and technological prowess”.

Which emerging technology is Viterbi more excited about? He said that the Internet of Things is maybe the most interesting technology today, but it implies a lot of problems about cyber security.

I’m so sad that Cella Irvine died. Together with Alessandro Piol, in 1994 she was one of the founders of the New York New Media Association (NYNMA), which is the NY Tech Meetup’s ancestor, as we wrote in “Tech and the City”.

I remember interviewing her for our book: being one of the very few women active in the NYC tech community, more than 20 years ago, she had very interesting insights into what it means “work-life balance” in this industry. She didn’t believe such a balance is possible, and instead she chose to alternate work and staying at home to raise her children.

I was also struck by her sensible and contrarian look at the enthusiasm for the new booming season of startups. This is what she told us, from “Tech and the City”, chapter 14 – “City of Women”:

<<Irvine wonders whether, behind the increased number of startups created by women, there isn’t just a bad labor market and the difficulty of finding “normal” jobs. “There is a wave of startups right now that are focused on beauty and fashion, typically with an e-commerce angle, and many of them are started by well-dressed, sophisticated, highly educated women,” says Irvine says. “Now, I think it would be interesting to dig into why that is happening, including a view on how much of that stems from managing a poor employment environment, and how much of it really is a change in how comfortable women feel about being entrepreneurs.”>>

My comment was: <<But even if it were so, it would confirm women’s ability to transform a problem into an opportunity.>>

Anyway, I think that her skeptical attitude is needed to cool down the eccessive hype about startups.

Ciao Irvine!

 

Cella Irvine

Cella Irvine

Uno scienziato italiano ha aperto una nuova strada per sconfiggere il cancro e ha fondato una startup per rendere disponibili sul mercato i risultati della sua ricerca. E’ Andrea Califano, il chairman del Dipartimento di Biologia dei sistemi alla Columbia university, e la sua startup e’  DarwinHealth, fondata lo scorso febbraio insieme al ceo, Gideon Bosker.

 

Andrea Califano, the founding director and chair of the Columbia Department of Systems Biology

Andrea Califano, the founding director and chair of the Columbia Department of Systems Biology

“Finora  la medicina di precisione contro il cancro e’ stata  basata sullo studio delle mutazioni genetiche delle cellule tumorali – spiega a CorrierEconomia Califano, dal suo laboratorio alla Columbia -. Sfortunatamente questo approccio si e’ rivelato meno ‘preciso’ di quanto si sperasse: secondo i dati più recenti, solo il 5-11% dei pazienti curati su base genetica risponde in modo ‘clinicamente rilevante’ e molti di questi solo per un periodo di tempo limitato”.
Da 13 anni il metodo di ricerca avviato da Califano alla Columbia usa invece la matematica e la fisica per indagare come funzionano le cellule tumorali. “E’ come studiare gli ingranaggi di un orologio – racconta lo scienziato -. Prendiamo dati molecolari su centinaia di pazienti e li mettiamo nel nostro supercomputer, tra i più grandi al mondo per questo tipo di ricerca, per creare modelli con milioni di interazioni fra le biomolecole. Abbiamo cosi’ scoperto che tutti i tumori, dal linfoma alla leucemia, dal cancro alla prostata a quello al seno, hanno la stessa architettura: le mutazioni attivano sempre lo stesso piccolo gruppo di proteine che chiamiamo ‘regolatori chiave’ e che costituiscono la ‘cabina di regia’ del tumore. Infatti abbiamo dimostrato in decine di pubblicazioni che se si bloccano queste proteine, si ferma il cancro”.
La squadra di ricercatori guidata da Califano sta gia’ mettendo in pratica il nuovo metodo con i pazienti che decidono di partecipare ad un esperimento clinico chiamato “N of 1”: il malato di cancro si sottopone a una biopsia, le cellule vengono analizzate dal supercomputer che individua i regolatori chiave del paziente e i farmaci che li bloccano, sia quelli gia’ approvati dall’autorità americana Fda sia quelli in studi clinici. Poi le cellule tumorali vengono trapiantate nei topi per verificare l’efficacia di queste predizioni.
“I risultati sui primi sei tumori sono molto confortanti – dice Califano -. Nel peggiore dei casi, due medicine su cinque hanno fermato il tumore, nei casi migliori tutte e le sei le medicine selezionate dal computer hanno funzionato. E si trattava di tumori gravissimi, considerati finora incurabili”.
Califano, 55 anni, e’ un pioniere dell’approccio matematico allo studio dei tumori: ci lavora fin da quando nel 1990 era entrato in Ibm, al Centro di ricerca TJ Watson. Ha una laurea in Fisica conseguita all’Università di Firenze e vive negli Stati Uniti dal 1986, quando andò al Mit di Boston per una specializzazione post-laurea.
I brevetti dei sui nuovi metodi ce li ha DarwinHealth, la startup nata e tuttora ospitata nell’incubatore di tecnologia e scienza biomedica della Columbia, che ne possiede il 5% del capitale e parteciperà ai futuri profitti, secondo il modello di trasferimento tecnologico comune alle università statunitensi.
“DarwinHealth lavora su due piani – spiega Califano -: con le case farmaceutiche per scoprire nuovi impieghi delle medicine esistenti e svilupparne di nuove; e con i grandi centri di ricerca medica nel mondo per sviluppare studi clinici basati sulla nostra tecnologia”.
  A pochi mesi dalla nascita, la startup ha gia’ un cash-flow positivo. E’ molto snella, con quattro impiegati, oltre ai due fondatori, e utilizza il Laboratorio di Biologia dei sistemi della Columbia, pagando i suoi servizi. Ma il potenziale di crescita e’ enorme. Basti dire che Roche, leader mondiale nelle cure oncologiche, l’anno scorso ha comprato per 1 miliardo di dollari la maggioranza di Foundation medicine, una società che usa l’approccio più tradizionale, rispetto a quello di DarwinHealth, basato sulle mutazioni genetiche.

(articolo originariamente pubblicato su CorrierEconomia, 31 ottobre 2016)

New York and Milan have so many things in common. They are both their country’s capital of finance, fashion, and media. Moreover, they are very dynamic cities at the forefront of innovation in many fields, from medicine to technology. So it makes sense that NY startups would look at Milan as a good place to expand and vice versa, and that both cities would partner together on the NYCEDC Global Business Exchange — Milan to make that happen.

Let’s start with Milan, often overlooked by Americans as a destination for fun and business. In reality, Milan is the Italian version of NYC: it has a strong entrepreneurial spirit and has become the largest startup hub in Italy in the last few years, in part because of the impetus and increase in vitality that followed the city’s hosting of the World’s Fair, Expo 2015, last year.

In the next ten years, the Human Technopole will rise where the Expo stood last year. It will be a research campus that could become home to as many as 1,600 researchers focusing on medical genomics, agriculture and food science, big-data analysis, and nanoscience. The plan will be developed by the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Genoa, which has a great record in nurturing startups.

According to StartupEuropeClub, “Milan has the best environment in Italy for Startups”, with 22% of all Italian innovative startups, 53% of institutional investors, 35% of crowding platforms, 21% of incubators and accelerators, 13% of science and technology parks, 31% of co-working spaces, and 17% of fab-labs.

Milan has a strategic location, very central to the European market, and its business community is very international. It is the home to some of the top European universities, including Bocconi University, rated among the best for business and finance; and Politecnico, the engineering university that hosts its very own startup incubator.

One major player in the Milan tech community is Digital Magics, which was founded in 2004, has a portfolio of almost 60 startups, and has been listed on the Borsa Italiana stock exchange since 2013. Another important player is P101, a venture capital firm focused on early-stage investments in the digital sector, which is well connected to the whole Italian and European ecosystem.

Fintech is particularly strong in Milan, where Moneyfarm, an online investment advisor and one of the biggest digital wealth management companies in Europe, was born. Moneyfarm also has offices also in London and Cagliari.

In Milan, innovation also flourishes in other “hard” industries such as aerospace. It’s where D-Orbit is headquartered, with subsidiaries in Portugal and California. Founded in 2011 by a team of experienced aerospace pros, it aims to mitigate the problem of space debris, removing them through a decommissioning device that is installed in new spacecraft before launch.

So from genomics to fin-tech, from fashion to aerospace, Milan offers great opportunities to US companies for expanding their business to the whole European market.

For Italians, New York City is already a very popular holiday destination. However, very few people know that it is also on its way to overtaking Silicon Valley as the center of attraction for talent and capital from all over the world. In fact, during the last few years more and more foreign entrepreneurs have been coming to the Big Apple looking for opportunities in the tech industry. They have found a very welcoming environment, which is one of the ingredients for New York City’s success as a tech hub: there is a strong sense of community, everybody feels part of it, roots and works for New York City to become a startup capital. Members of this community are generous with their time and available to share their experience and knowledge with newcomers, foreigners included. That’s why the city is home to NY Tech Meetup, the largest organization in the world bringing startups together, with over 60,000 individual and institutional members. The NYTM monthly meeting is a good starting point to make connections and network with other entrepreneurs.

Another strength of New York City is the diversity of its economy and social life. Besides Wall Street, there are the Mad Men of the advertising industry, Broadway and the show business, booming real estate, fashion and media, an incredible restaurant scene, as well as new manufacturing. New York City is also home to a number of excellent research centers and higher education institutions, such as the Cornell Tech, whose new campus is opening in 2017, totally devoted to raising a new generation of tech leaders and innovators. All these industries are interacting in a creative way, and startups have been created to take advantage of this huge background, and they are all sectors where Milanese entrepreneurs can be very successful.

The high concentration of people in New York City, as well as their ethnic, cultural, and social diversity, is appealing because it makes the city a laboratory to test new products and services aimed at the global market. If you make it in New York City, you can make it anywhere, as the saying goes. It’s true also for the tech business.

And of course there is the money, of which there is plenty in NYC, with so many VCs and the most active organization of Angel Investors in the US. In the first half on 2016, $3.1 billion were invested in NY startups, more than anywhere else except Silicon Valley.

With all this in mind, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and the City of Milan have partnered together to give companies the opportunity to expand between these two international cities. Through the NYCEDC Global Business Exchange — Milan, up to 20 companies can get started with their cross-Atlantic growth. If you’re interested, you need to hurry up! APPLICATIONS CLOSE AUGUST 31ST. Find out more information here.