By Chandler Harris
Like Silicon Valley, New York’s Silicon Alley hosts a growing number of start-ups and small technology companies, developed by innovative technology professionals and buoyed by an influx of venture capital funding. The city saw 146 venture capital deals worth $791 million in 2009, according to the National Venture Capital Association.
Many of the Big Apple’s technology entrepreneurs liken Silicon Alley to New York in the mid-90s, when a combination of venture funding, relatively cheap office space and an abundance of available talent helped shape the city as a home for tech companies.
And as New York’s traditional publishing, advertising and media companies try to adapt to the Internet, many tech firms are redefining media through new platforms and associated entities.
“With more and more users moving from print media to online, and more content consumed online than anywhere else, I think it makes sense that with the publishing industry in New York we are seeing a lot of ideas and companies organized around new ways to display content, as well as advertising,” says Camilla Cho, vice president of business development for Outside.in, which aggregates online content and disseminates it to local communities. The company has 18 employees and expects to reach a maximum headcount of 30 in the next year or so.
Anyone Know a Software Engineer?
To land a job at many New York start-ups, you obviously need a strong technology background in the realm of the company’s activity. Remember, life at a start-up generally means working with small, closely knit teams where strong analytical and problem-solving skills are needed. Outside.in, for example, seeks software engineers with backgrounds in CSS and people experienced with distributed systems and text mining.
Another firm, Hunch.com, needs software engineers experienced in Java and Python to add to its 18-member team. The nine-month old start-up creates statistical correlations to make predictions and help people make decisions.
“I think the main thing we’re looking for is smart, hardworking people who are clever, scrappy thinkers that can work individually and get things done fast,” says Tom Pickney, head of engineering for Hunch. “They shouldn’t want to work in a slow ponderous team, but when they are thrown a problem, they can quickly build something that works, even if it’s not perfect.”
Andrew Pancer left his position as the New York Times’s vice president for digital development to be part of Media6Degrees, a start-up that mines online social connections to deliver targeted advertising. Founded in the fall of 2008, the company has 50 employees and is seeking an additional 20 by the end of 2010. The company wants software engineers and developers with experience in Java, SQL, Hadoop, Linux, and SQL.
Another corporate refugee, Adam Erlebacher, gave up a job as a New York investment firm to co-found PlaceVine, which matches advertisers with media companies. The company is most interested in finding developers with experience in PHP and Python. “In addition to having technical skills, we’re seeking people who are a good cultural fit and know how to have fun, are curious about the world, are typically good problem solvers, and want to understand how to make things work,” Erlebacher says.
As media continues to be redefined by the Internet, expect media-related start-ups in New York to flourish. Especially with funding from angel investors like NYC Seed, who want to turn New York into an incubator for start-ups.
“I think right now it’s much easier to form a start-up here than in the Bay Area,” says Pickney. “Especially if you’re building a start-up in advertising or media, this is the best place to be.”
Chandler Harris is a business writer based in California.