New York Startups Help Fuel City's High-Tech Renaissance

By Gerry Smith | The Huffington Post 

THE HUFFINGTON POST- By appearances alone, this startup looks and feels like a movie set version of Silicon Valley.

The co-founder is a 22-year-old college dropout who wears flip-flops, drinks Red Bull and gives exuberant high-fives to his staff. The office has a pool table, a foosball table and growlers of beer in the corner. Young engineers in t-shirts write thousands of lines of computer code, sometimes past midnight.

But Codecademy- a year-old company that teaches amateur software developers how to code -- is located 3,000 miles from the fabled startup mecca, in a place that for years was not widely considered a tech hub: New York City.

That reputation, however, is starting to change. Codecademy is one of a burgeoning number of startups who have helped turn New York City into the nation's fastest growing tech sector.

The influx of budding tech companies in New York reflects how the industry has changed. Today, a successful startup is based less on building computer hardware and more on creating applications that deliver content and services over the Web.

New York -- epicenter of fashion, finance and media -- has become a destination for startups that want to be near those industries, which are being rapidly transformed by the digital age.
"There is a renaissance in the New York tech community," said Andrew Rasiej, chairman of NY Tech Meetup, which hosts monthly gatherings for tech entrepreneurs. "In the same way that hardware married software and created the legend of Silicon Valley, technology is marrying content and creating entirely new opportunities in New York City."

 From 2007 to 2011, nearly 500 startups in New York received investment. While startup funding dropped 10 percent nationwide during that period, it rose 32 percent in New York. More than a dozen established tech startups have moved to the city from tech hubs like Silicon Valley and Boston, and the number of IT jobs in New York has risen 30 percent since 2007, according to a recent report from the Center for an Urban Future, a think tank based in New York City.

To be sure, Silicon Valley still offers unmatched advantages for tech entrepreneurs. 

"If you're doing something that requires significant engineering, there is still no better place in the world than the Bay Area to start a company because of the density and absolute number of top engineering, design and product management talent," Jeremy Liew, managing director of Lightspeed Venture Partners, a venture capital firm in Silicon Valley, said in an email. 

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