I'm here at the Web 2.0 Expo in NYC today, my first big tech industry conference in a long time, where I'm also excitedly getting ready for my keynote tomorrow.
But one of the things I'm most proud of is that has something of a valedictory feel to it, as we note that many of the best, most interesting, most subversive and disruptive startups in the world are based here. From Foursquare to Hunch, Kickstarter to Square, Etsy to the newly-funded 20×200 (they're hiring!). That's not counting the dozens of tech-based media businesses that have spring up in the wake of Gawker and Huffington Post. And best of all, I think many of them have been influenced by the seminal NYC Web 2.0 startup, Meetup, which not only helps knit our startup community together, but introduced many of the elements of social responsibility and an old-fashioned We Make Money business model that distinguish New York startups from those in Silicon Valley and elsewhere.
(Update: To my chagrin, I forgot Outside.in, another great NYC startup that I've found inspiring. I'm sure there are more omissions, too, but I'll add 'em as they come to me.)
New York City startups are as likely to be focused on the arts and crafts as on the bits and bytes, 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.
Am I biased? Sure. But are there half a dozen startups anywhere in the world as interesting and full of potential as these new NYC efforts? Isn't it exciting that these are all built around the full potential of the open web, instead of merely trying to be land grabs within the walled gardens of closed platforms? I'm more optimistic about the environment and opportunity for starting new ventures than I've been in ages, and for me the fundamental reasons why are demonstrated best by startups that could only happen in New York City.
Plus, we have bagels. Delicious bagels.