'Silicon Alley' Revival in NYC: How Likely?
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NEW YORK -- Experts say that the economic crisis gives the city an opportunity to reduce its dependence on Wall Street.
"When I arrived here about ten years ago, Silicon Alley was booming," said Mel Horwitch, director of the Institute of Technology and Enterprise at NYU's Polytechnic University in Brooklyn, and moderator of a discussion titled "Can This Community Be Saved?" His comments came during the Building the Broadband Economy 2009 summit of the Intelligent Community Forum held at the university.
"The technology industry can balance Wall Street," said Jonathan Bowles, director of the Center for an Urban Future. He noted that there's already a large and growing digital media business in the city and said that some other sectors, such as video games, are also growing.
"Smart, creative people want to come here. To keep them, we need a robust telecoms infrastructure. The number of freelancers is growing. You can see them working out of coffee shops," he added.
Bowles said that the entrepreneurial spirit of New York City compares poorly not only with Silicon Valley but also with San Diego and Boston. "They have experienced technology entrepreneurs. They have seasoned CEOs. We have some but we have a way to go," he said.
Owen Davis, managing director of local early stage fund NYC Seed said that NYU needs to change too. "Stanford professors can pick up the phone and call someone on Sand Hill Road. NYU professors lack those external connections," he said. "As a result, many venture capitalists have offices here but invest outside in New York City."
Indeed, Ian Lynch, president of Brooklyn-based game developer Freeverse told InternetNews.com over instant message that he's already moved from Manhattan to Dumbo in Brooklyn and that his accountant is telling him to move again.
"We love New York City but it's far more expensive then other places. My accountant tells me the that the number one thing I can do to save money would be to leave New York City," he said.