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Friday April 18, 2014

Fred Wilson’s Timeline of NY’s (Not) ‘Silicon Alley’

NYConvergence ORIGINAL

UPDATE: Video, above.

Union Square Ventures’ Fred Wilson took a trip down memory lane for the media-tech community in New York at the Web 2.0 Expo at the Javits Center.  He promised that video will be available, but in the meantime, here are some rough notes on the timeline he showed a packed auditorium:

He wants everyone to stop calling it Silicon “Alley,” saying we should just say “Broadway” or “New York”. He cited Red Burns’ Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU from the late 1970s as the genesis of it all. “There’s something that goes on in New York that’s different than Silicon Valley,” he said, something more artistic, creative and infused with business.

He said that the proportion of VC-funded tech deals in NY had grown from 1/8 the number in Silicon Valley to about 1/3 since it all began in the mid-1990s. In the early days, ZDNet ran on Compuserve, Prodigy and Ziff’s own service. TechWeb launched in 1994-5 on the Web, never bothering with proprietary services. Pipeline and New York Online were among the first major dialup services,  the “on ramp” to the Internet, for people using things like “Archie” and “Gopher”in New York. And Jupiter Communications began showing big consumer online services shows. Alan Meckler had Internet World. NY was center of the events business, he said.

Here’s the (rough and incomplete) timeline (after the "jump"):

1994
- Major media companies get into the Web through services like Pathfinder.

1995
-Former HQ of Drexel, 55 Broad St is wired up as a technology oriented building and NYITC is there.
- Seth Godin starts talking and puts up an ad that says “Wait until your boss finds out you won $100K playing a game over email on your work account.”
- Razorfish, agency.com are born
- NYTimes goes online for Pope’s NY trip. Shuts it down, learns what worked and didn’t, and relaunches in 1996.

1995/96
- @NY, Silicon Alley Reporter magazines
- Softbank, Doubleclick are formed. RealMedia moves from Philly to NY.

1996
- Michael Wolff launches YPN. Launch of TheKnot, iVillage.
- Flatiron Partners (was Acme Ventures), Wilson’s venture. Later sued for using Flatiron building as logo. (Wilson still has the URL).

1997
- Silicon Alley Reporter Radio Show delivered “live over the Internet” at Pseudo’s offices at Houston and Broadway.

- TheMiningCo, later became About.com. The largest consumer site on the Internet. “I passed on the deal based on the name alone,” Wilson says.

- Total NY sold to AOL. CD-Rom publisher shuts down.
- Rollups start going strong: Razorfish buys avalanche systems, TAG, Plastic, CHBi.
- First NY Internet IPO: DoubleClick.

1998
- Godin sells company to Yahoo
- Wolff write Burn Rate
- Kozmo.com launches. “Definitive company of the era. We invested in it, lost a lot of money.”

1999
- “All Hell Breaks Loose”. 200 startups funded in 1999. This year we’ll do 116. “Party everybody remembers  is crazy party Josh Harris threw for month of December.”
- Interview with Harris (cited as a vidionary): “Internet is like this new human experience. At first everybody is going to like it.”.. but over time will become more constrained… inlittle boxes. “Onne day we’re going to wake up and realize that we’re all just servants.”

2000
- The Crash. The market tanked in March.
- FuckedCompany came along, making fun of all these companies “that were in fact fucked.”
- Google opens its first NY office at the 86th st. Starbucks’ Huddle Room

2001
- Layoffs, landords, bankruptcies

2002
- Doubleclick’s “Welcome to Silicon Valley” billboard is removed. NYNMA folds. – Calacanis moves to LA

2003
- “Things start turning around”
- Denton launches Gizmodo, first Gawker media property. Throws a party in 2003 for 6Apart founders.
-  Wilson launches AVC blog
- Tim and John coin term “Web 2.0”.
- Del.icio.us launches from server in a New York apartment.

2004
- NYTech Meetup. less than 10 people. (7,000 people now.)
- Wilson raises $125M, now invested in over 15 NYC startups

2005
- About.com acquired by NYTimes. “Big deal.”
- Etsy launches in Brooklyn. 40-50 companies of the ilk in Brooklyn now.

2005
- Delicious sells to Yahoo

2006
- Google comes to NY,  takes over Port Authority building, “largest floorspace in Manhattan.” Their largest engineering operation outside of Silicon Valley
- Web video takes off. Wallstrip. “Things Pseudo was doing in a more realistic way,” making money.

2007
- Lots of start up activity: Path101, tumblr, targetspot, buddymedia, i’minlikewithyou
last year 75 early stage tech funded by VC, almost all Web.

2008
- Web 2.0 show comes to NY City

Related:
> Idealism for New York tech, from VC Fred Wilson (CNET)

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