New York City has many of the same strengths as Silicon Valley – merit-driven capitalism, the embrace of newcomers and particularly immigrants, and a consistent willingness to reinvent itself.
...it may be that creativity and invention are more dependent on the networks in which the creator participates than their individual genius or their willingness to put in the hours. As we've so often seen, great ideas occur where there is a confluence of ideas taken from the environment surrounding the creator or creators.
Having spent a good deal of time working in technology both in NY and Silicon Valley, I've found that the NYC network is more diffuse and harder to find a path into. I think it has something to do with the fact that there's so much else going on aside from technology — the valley might hold the title of the best place for start-ups in technology, but NYC is the best place for many things.
The diversity of experience on the 20x200 team is incredible and inspiring. Everyone I work with has done a bunch of other things aside from technology, and not one of them set out for a tech career to begin with. Among us are photographers, musicians, artists, writers, lawyers, teachers and wine experts. We all love the internet (a lot! too much?) but what drives us most is our love of art and the people who make it.
Does this happen in Silicon Valley? Perhaps, but my time spent there — which I loved, for the record — was about an immersion in technology. Here in NYC it's about the thing itself.
Both environments have their merits, and like Caterina, I get to enjoy both. As readers of the 20x200 newsletters know, I spend a lot of time in the Bay area. My friends there have a fluency and familiarity with technology that I find lacking here in New York. There's a drive for innovation that's almost palpable, and many are the true believers who are convinced that technology will save us all.
I love that way of thinking, and I'm also willing to put my money on technology as a solver of the many things that ail us, but all that innovation speak can be exhausting and then there's the fact that you can't hail a cab there.
My non-techy friends in NY can be downright phobic and I often find myself making sheepish excuses for Twitter and Tumblr and Foursquare. The fear of what's coming is incredibly exasperating, knowing as I do that it's already here.
Then again, if you live too long inside the echo-chamber, it's easy to forget who's going to be using all this technology in the end. The reality check is important, almost as important as being able to hail a cab whenever I damn well please.