Silicon Valley VS New York. Can The Big Apple Compare?
Silicon Valley has a rich history of hacking, designing, testing, funding, and startups that spans for over 50 years. This culture of innovation in the startup world is commonplace in Northern California, outside of San Francisco, where originally it became home to silicon chip manufacturing.
Today, New York is trying to attract startup and technology investors through incentives that include tax breaks, infrastructure improvements, and by offering key real estate.
The debate continues as to whether or not New York will be able to become an equally relevant player in the same way Silicon Valley has become synonymous with entrepreneurship and technology.
According to Caterina Fake, the co-founder of both Flickr and Hunch, Boston is an example demonstrating that it’s simply not possible. “Entrepreneurship cannot really be taught in a university setting – that is, a factory model… the only way to learn is by trying, failing, trying again until some great idea works.”
It’s argued that there are fundamental differences in the culture of New York and Silicon Valley that contribute to the kind of perspective and thinking that are the characteristic to each.
Craig Mod, a writer and designer at Flipboard agrees, “With sufficient curiosity and gumption you are in (in Silicon Valley). This is what captures the minds of entrepreneurs around the world. That the great founders aren’t in Ivory Towers – they are standing in front of you, eating yogurt.”
Further, it’s said that these differences should be nurtured and celebrated instead of trying to make one into the other.
Since 2011, the city of New York has been open to taking bids from major universities to open a campus with the purpose of teaching technology and innovation with the intent of spawning entrepreneurship. It has offered land such as Brooklyn’s Navy Yard, parts of Roosevelt Island, or Governors Island. This could be one of the critical differences that put the city of New York on the map.
This may not be enough, according to some.
Martin Kenny, a professor of human and community development at the University of California, Davis notes, “All the things that make New York City what is is – Wall Street finance, music, fashion, and the arts – about these, Silicon Valley simply does not care. A new campus will not change this profound cultural difference. New York City is M.B.A and M.F.A friendly, not engineer friendly.”
New York may not prove to be the next Silicon Valley but it doesn’t have to be. New York’s history in innovation is vast and instead of trying to mimic the phenomenon that is Silicon Valley, it should instead look at the characteristics that make it New York and forge ahead with that particular attitude of innovation.
Up until now, it’s had no trouble making that impact on global scale in many fields. It’s just a matter of reclaiming their brand of innovation and moving forward the way New York always seems to know how to do.