The New York Software Industry Association (NYSIA) hosted a panel discussion on Monday night to discuss how the current economic situation could affect the technology industry. The panel included Union Square Ventures‘ Fred Wilson, BusinessWeek‘s Steve Hamm, AlleyCorp’s and 10gen‘s Dwight Merriman, Information Builders Inc.’s Gerry Cohen. It was moderated by NYSIA’s Howard Greenstein.
The panel covered topics such as possible growth opportunities, investment trends, changing valuations, remaining in NYC, and possible challenges.
Wilson was bullish on long-term opportunities, noting that it will be slower in the short-term. Merriman added that his company hadn’t yet felt any impact from the economic downturn. Cohen pointed out that the downturn could lead to new business opportunities as companies consolidate and require new services. Hamm noted that this economic situation is different from the recession of 2001 as "tech is not bleeding from a boom and bust economy."
When Greenstein asked how companies could "stop the bleeding", Wilson
emphasized that companies should concentrate on revenue building.
Merriman referred to Moore’s Law and how 10gen was able to do more with
less. Hamm suggested that companies refrain from taking venture
capital. Cohen said that the focus should be on cutting industrial
The conversation then turned to tight budgets. Wilson noted that
companies still have opportunities in expanding markets such as China,
India, and Brazil. Hamm sees potential in new, "disruptive"
technologies as they cost less and require less upfront capital.
Merriman stressed the need for SAAS and platform as a service (cloud)
which was seconded by Cohen who noted that they are "super competitive
The conversation then turned to opportunities in disruptive
technologies. Hamm feels widgets, iPhone applications, and other,
similar areas have potential as they are low cost to be in, but they
are "low opportunity areas too." Wilson added that one or two people
can create useful applications and license it. Greenstein reminded the
audience that this is a similar situation to the 1970s when the PC was
The panel moved on to discuss doing business in NYC. Wilson doesn’t
think companies need their entire workforce here. Cohen talked about
the number of IT people working in the city. Merriman noted that
Silicon Valley offers more resources for large technology companies.
Wilson remarked that the presence of companies like Google also indicates the potential here in NYC and that former Wall Street employees could find a good home at startup.