Eric Hippeau is a venture capitalist and former CEO of the Huffington Post who, together with his partners at Lerer Hippeau Ventures, invests in and supports consumer technology startups. Based in New York City, Hippeau sees the Big Apple as a wonderful and resourceful hub for software and applied technology. He discusses the major similarities and differences between New York and Silicon Valley in the following clip from his recent Big Think interview:
When comparing New York and Silicon Valley, Hippeau notes that the changing face of technology means that you can start a business anywhere:
"Technology today is transportable and rentable and relatively cheap to use, we in New York, but it could be anywhere – it could be Bombay, it could be Austin – have access to the same technology to develop new applications, new services than anybody in Silicon Valley. So everyone starts with the same level playing field."
That said, there are still key differences that separate New York from Silicon Valley. Some of it has to do with demographics and resources, but a major key is that New York, perhaps more than any other city in America, has the highest demand for consumer technology:
"The big difference is that New York focuses more on the software layer, on the application and the services layer so that we’re really good at software in New York. We’re good at platforms. We’re good at consumer facing applications. We’re good at enterprise software, software as a service. We’re good at a variety of different domains."
Basically, where folks working in San Jose will always be the trendsetters as far as hardware goes, a consumer city like New York is the perfect nest for software and others forms of people-focused technology. With industries such as advertising, media, and healthcare in large part calling New York home, it makes sense that successful startups in the city would focus on those industries' needs. It's those companies that flourish. It's those companies that Hippeau seeks to support.
Of course, the tech landscape could always change. Hippeau makes sure to note that New York's population resources, particularly its 600,000 college students, make it a desirable target for tech investment. With so many potential engineers and designers living there, who's to say that New York can't be the next Silicon Valley?
"On Roosevelt Island there’s going to be a Cornell University in conjunction with the big technology institute in Israel are building a campus which will be ready in two or three years. But the classes have already started in other locations. And this is all going to be advanced applied engineering. So who knows what’s going to develop in the future."