I LOVE NEW YORK CITY! Anyone that knows me at all is aware of this. I grew up in North Jersey just a few miles away from Manhattan and lived and worked in NYC for just under five years. I also very much love San Francisco. After all, it is the place I decided to lay down roots after many years of restlessness.
I am writing this post on a plane heading home to San Francisco from Newark, NJ. Every time I take this trip I feel so torn, longing to get back to the Bay Area, yet missing the Tri-State Area terribly almost immediately upon setting foot on the plane. I am telling you all this so you know what I say next comes from a place of deep love for both places.
This trip was action packed. I had lots of business meetings all over NJ/NY, saw friends and family, visited old haunts. The thing is, I am a talker and I talk to just about anyone that wants to talk back to me. I got to talk to tons of people: friends, family, business contacts, cab drivers, even the guy making my coffee at Dunkin Donuts. The funny thing is, do you know what I heard almost nothing about from any of these folks? Seed Capital, Angel Investors, VCs, Series A, B or C…no UX, no UI, no user personas; nothing about sales funnels, lead nurturing, drip campaigns or anything like that either. I have to tell you, it was actually kind of nice for a change.
Now, I am not saying I don’t love what’s happening in San Francisco, or that there aren’t cool, tech related things happening in NYC. But, there seemed to be a ton of other things going on in NY unlike the almost singular focus we have here in the Bay Area. And, even the folks involved with tech, weren’t obsessed with it like those of us here tend to be. They actually talked about other things and had other interests. It made me wonder how healthy that singularity was for us in the long term.
The fact is that, as a city, we tend to respect and take a “start-up” more seriously than we might a traditional small business–even if the start-up is far-fetched and the small business has a solid strategy. This attitude almost forces aspiring entrepreneurs that want to be taken seriously (and get access to capital) to cram their ideas into a model that may or may not give them the optimum chance for success. Everybody is a founder, co-founder, technical partner or some other start-up related title–even if they own a food cart on the street. People are starting to lose the ability to imagine anything outside the start-up framework.
I think what I liked about my trip, is that it all seemed more integrated with the broader business world back there. It was somewhat invisible or at least didn’t scream, “look at me…I am right here being startuppy”. It was just there part of everything else going on. I know there is less of it there and it isn’t the center of the known tech universe like the Bay Area has always been. But it had me thinking maybe, just maybe that it might just be a healthier approach. That it could leave more possibilities open to us and our city and very well may be the way of avoiding “tech bubbles”.
I am not sure, but if you disagree, I suppose we could debate it when I see you at the next meetup, hackathon, pitch-night or design-sprint…