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Silicon Alley: The Way to the Future

This piece is an opinion on this New York Times article and the role of tech companies in New York City by Grant Hastings, Gabelli ’21.

Silicon Valley— the illustrious land of magic garages and tech wizards who speak multiple languages using only their hands and a computer. Often said to be the technology capital of the world, home to companies such as Apple, Alphabet, and Facebook, it is understandable why companies and talented employees have flocked there. It may be the current reigning tech capital of the world, but I’d argue that New York City still holds the crown as the greatest city in the world. In the 410 years since its creation, New York has grown to be a melting pot of culture, tradition, talent, and amazing people working day and night to achieve success, and this melting pot is adding one more ingredient: technology. Forget about Silicon Valley; Silicon Alley is the place for tech startups and their talented employees.

“In New York, people are driven by real-world problems that can be solved with technology,” says Daniel Huttenlocher, the dean of Cornell Tech, who has worked in Silicon Valley and is an Amazon board member. “In Silicon Valley, the heritage is much more to build cool technology and then figure out how it can make money.”

If you want something done right and done quickly, you head to New York City. The most recent shift in the technology industry is that tech companies are no longer the main source of demand for tech talent; every large company is embracing artificial intelligence and machine-learning to improve their services. The growth that New York is seeing is geometric; for instance, Google recently announced it will be spending over one billion dollars to expand its presence in New York, leading to more talented employees and companies viewing New York as a sanctuary for technology. Combine this private investment with strong government support that began with former Mayor Mike Bloomberg, and you have a petri dish just waiting to grow amazing companies. Although the recent Amazon HQ2 deal fell through, it still shows how the government will support tech companies who will move to NYC.

Thinking long term, New York City is the place to be if smaller technology companies want to go global. Business today is global, and Silicon Valley does not have the global influence that New York City has. New York is oozing with investors waiting to throw money at the next Google or Amazon; growing technology companies need to come to the Big Apple and take a bite to see how delicious the Silicon Alley melting pot truly is.

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