“Any further long-term real-estate commitments by Google are proof positive that New York is the present and future home for technology innovation and the most fertile ground for talent retention,” said Doug Harmon, of Cushman & Wakefield,  the broker who worked the sale of 111 Eighth Ave. to Alphabet, and on a new transaction: Google’s investing more than $2 billion to buy the Chelsea Market building at 75 Ninth Ave. from Jamestown LP, as the Wall Street Journal reported today.

Google already has offices in the 1.2 million-square-foot building, which houses offices on the upper floors and shops and restaurants on the ground and lower-level floors. The web-search giant also owns the 2.9 million-square-foot building at 111 Eighth Ave., which it bought in 2010. In addition, it has leased more than 200,000 square feet at Pier 57, a former freight terminal.

Here is how we described Google’s presence in NYC in “Tech and the City” (2013):

<<For three weeks straight in April 1951, without sleeping and without eating, only kept awake by gallons of coffee and other not so legal stimulants, Jack Kerouac wrote the first draft of On the Road in one go. At least so says the legend of the Chelsea Hotel where the beat generation poet lived at the time, and where for decades, artists, musicians, actors and writers have enlivened the bohemian life of its namesake neighborhood.
Kerouac’s typewriter is one of the images in the mile-long mural of Chelsea’s history that wrapped the scaffolding on Google’s New York headquarters in the spring and summer of 2012. An artistic way—thanks to the work of Dark Igloo design studio of Williamsburg (Brooklyn)—to make something as monotonous as periodically checking the façade of high-rises, as required by municipal law, into something entertaining.

According to Google’s website, which boasts of the records and the beauty of its building, it takes nine minutes to walk around the building and see the whole mural. You start out at 111 8th Avenue, and walk north to 16th street, then west to 9th Avenue where the main entrance is located at number 76. Then you continue south to West 15th and you’re back at your starting point. It is an Art Deco building that dates from the 1930s, occupies a square block, and has 17 floors, many as big as two football fields, for a total of 2.9 million square feet. Until the 1970s, it housed the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Google moved into the building in 2006, at first only occupying a few offices and then, as it continued to grow, it decided to buy the whole building in December 2010 for $1.9 billion.
Today, just under 3,000 Googlers work in the building in a creative environment where the hip lifestyle of the twenty-to-thirty-somethings who come to work in shorts and flip-flops meet the rigor of the algorithms that are at the heart of the Internet giant’s business. Nothing is boring, everything is in motion, each detail scrutinized to stimulate the minds and the imaginations of the people who work there. Parked at the entrance to each floor, a fleet of scooters is available to move employees from one part of the immense office space to another. What is more, each floor reveals its own interior design theme linked to a particular idea. The fifth floor theme for example, is “old New York.” The large dining room is designed as if it were on the roof of a building, including the typical wooden water tower that is part of the New York skyline, and even fake pigeons. A puzzle that goes from one end of the room to the other has been incorporated into the flooring and only the engineers are up to solving it.
Two of the conference rooms have a theme. They are furnished as if they were typical New York studio apartments—one where a 20-year-old male lives complete with sofa, his bicycle leaning against the wall, and laundry strewn about; the other is meant to be that of a woman, with a kitchenette that is neat and tidy—probably because she always eats out. There is also a library with a virtual bookshelf with eBooks that can be purchased using a smartphone. And there is a wall of physical books too, but it hides a secret passage to a relaxation room.

There are normal office desks, but they are not the only places where Googlers work. In fact, hardly anyone has his or her own desk. The idea behind the design of the space is to encourage informal meetings and exchange of ideas. That is Google’s philosophy and it is the same in Silicon Valley, as well as in all Google offices worldwide. But here in New York, the second most important Google center, it has a special meaning. “It’s true, there are differences in being a Googler in New York,” states the website. “This is the capital of finance and fashion, of publishing and theater. And it makes a subtle difference in how we communicate and how fast we work. It’s difficult to put into words but you always know you are in New York.” And for many young people the idea of going to a bar on foot or walking to a gallery to enjoy an exhibit at the end of a tiring work day is much more attractive than commuting in the traffic of the San Francisco Bay area to get to and from the Googleplex, the Silicon Valley headquarters.

Google’s first outpost in the Big Apple was opened by Tim Armstrong, the current CEO of AOL, in 2000. He was selling advertising, working out of a Starbucks on the corner of 86th and Columbus Avenue. The first engineers were hired in 2003, and the first offices were in Times Square. Today half of the staff spends its time on advertising, working closely with ad agencies and the media. The other half works on creating new products and projects, from system software to applications. And the organization keeps growing: since 2008, some Googlers have had to work in the adjacent Chelsea Market (in a space of almost fifty five thousand square feet) waiting for space at 111 Eigth Avenue to free up when the current tenants’ leases expire.

New recruits are typically from East Coast universities. They are chosen through an extremely competitive process. In the summer of 2012 for example, Google held in New York the final phase of an annual contest for young programmers. Thirty-six thousand developers, aspiring Googlers, entered the contest. Eventually, the 25 surviving programmers had to challenge one another solving a variety of algorithmic problems for several hours. One of the tasks was to find the optimal way to destroy an army of zombies marching on their computer screens. The prize was ten thousand dollars, and the chance to interview with Google. A young Polish programmer, Jakub Pachocki, won. But nothing says he’ll become a Googler, given New York’s hunger for excellent coders and the stiff competition from other high-tech companies to get them.>>

 

The tech startup community in New York keeps growing, with a lot of deals – $2,883 funding in Q4’17, more than $2,667 million in Silicon Valley! – and a lot of new initiatives supporting startups, such as the European Tech Night, a joint effort by the Consulates of France, Germany and Italy.
The first European Tech Night was hosted by the Consulate General of France on January 30 and organized together with La French Tech NYC. The presentation about Artificial Intelligence was very interesting, followed by the pitches of four European startups that specialize in AI, and finally a sparkling – thanks to champagne! – networking hour.
Among the startups attending the event, there were five created by Italians: Armadio, Authorea, Cuebiq, Fluidmesh, and Measurence whose founder Elio Narciso made one of the pitches. It’s a good sample of how Italian creativity can excel not only in the arts and food, but also in hard technology, as the Italian general consul Francesco Genuardi stresses.

#italiantechpride tonite at @consulfrancenyc #lunionefalaforza #🇮🇹teamwork w/ @mtcometto and a selection of our…

Posted by Consulate General of Italy in New York on Tuesday, January 30, 2018

 

Armadio is an online store offering unique Italian products, its founder Matteo Mattia Gemignani has had already two exits for his first two startups.
Authorea is the leading collaborative platform to read, write, and publish scientific research.
Cuebiq is a global leader in mobility and location intelligence: it has recently launched its Data for Good initiative, which helped those in Florida prepare for Hurricane Irma.
Fluidmesh deals with the Internet of Things, bringing broadband connectivity to sites and in environments that are today too hard or large to connect, such as high-speed moving vehicles and trains. Among its clients in NYC: MTA and NY Waterway.
Measurence brings website-style analytics to physical spaces: real-time data streams from its proprietary sensors and other data sources provide the clients with key performance metrics.

Another good occasion to discover some of the best new ideas and startups from Italy will be the NYC Edition of MADE IN ITALY 2020, a world tour of Italian entrepreneurs and investors: February 26th at Grand Central Tech, 335 Madison Avenue, from 1:30 to 6:30 pm. For more information: Sebastiano Peluso, co-founder of 3040ReGeneration.

The German Accelerator will organize the next European Tech Night on February, 27th at SAP.

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