Anil Dash on New York City startups:
New York City startups are as likely to be focused on the arts and crafts as on the bits and bites, to be influenced by our unparalleled culture as by the latest browser features, and informed by the dynamic interaction of different social groups and classes that’s unavoidable in our city, but uncommon in Silicon Valley. Best of all, the support for these efforts can come from investors and supporters that are outside of the groupthink that many West Coast VC firms suffer from. When I lived in San Francisco, it was easy to spend days at a time only interacting with other web geeks; In New York, fortunately, that’s impossible.
When people absconded from New York City several years ago — many to the west coast — one such friend’s comment from that time has stuck with me all these years. In talking about how he felt about San Francisco versus New York City he said, “I don’t know people anymore.” He wasn’t talking about friendships.
He compared his car commute in San Francisco to his former subway commute in Manhattan. “Commuting by car, you can’t hear or smell anyone around you. You’re locked in a box alone,” he noticed, “How are you supposed to know what people are feeling?”
New York City startups may have equal focus on arts and crafts as its bits and bites because it’s impossible not to have equal, if not extreme, contact with all of it at once; process all of it at once; make sense of it all at once. Know people all at once.
We make things for people. And no matter where we are in New York City, we get the opportunity to observe, hear, befriend, smell, talk with, be proven wrong by, block out, be surprised by, take on, and just happen upon people who can change our perspective in unexpected ways. It’s friction. And it’s a good place to be.