The Evolution of the NY Tech Scene and Need for Applied Sciences NYC
Andy Dunn is co-founder and CEO of Bonobos, now the largest apparel brand in the United States ever launched over the web.
The start-up scene in New York has transformed dramatically since I arrived in 2007 to co-found Bonobos. At my one bedroom apartment at 17th and Irving where I lived with 400 pairs of pants, I felt alone. Potential employees and vendors eyed me skeptically, a crazy man talking about how the world was going to change. My harebrained vision was that the worlds of technology and consumer retail were about to collide and that room of pants was going to become a company.
Those who believed me were also the crazy ones; they are now founding employees and investors of Bonobos’ wonderful team. From them, and through the grapevine, we heard whispers of others with similar ideas. We met them and befriended them. Alexandra, Alexis, and Kevin at Gilt. The Jennys at Rent the Runway. Dave, Neil and the Warby Parker crew, who came through our offices seeking advice on vertical e-commerce; we now ask them for their insight. Joel and Tracy at StyleOwner. Katia and Hayley at Birchbox. Daniella, Amy and team at Bauble Bar. Chantel at Chloe and Isabel. And the list now goes on and on.
It became clear it was not just technology and branded e-tail (as opposed to blanded e-tail: you know who you are) colliding for the first time, but a technology-enabled movement empowering consumers and individuals emerging out of New York. Foursquare. Etsy. Second Market. Tumblr. Kickstarter. Grovo. ZocDoc. And why wouldn’t it? NYC is the capital of individualism and consumerism. This is the experimental petri dish of humanity. It was only a matter of time before it got technology-enabled. Yes we do have Times Square. All strengths have their shadows.
Like the story of how high schools eventually generate what the pros needs in Michael Lewis’ book The Blind Side, the investors started to show up about five years later. Accel Partners, our cutting edge investors, became the first blue chip west coast firm to set up shop here. Fred, unsurprisingly, was likewise out in front. Charlie and Phin planted the First Round flag. Kirsten of Forerunner Ventures started making trips. Jeremy from Lightspeed is always on the scene. Ben and his dad set up Lerer and did a partnership with SV. Founder Collective sprouted up. Mo and Bijan at Spark Capital. Techstars. Dogpatch. Thrive. And on and on and on and sorry I’m missing you, the money flowed in.
And yet, through all of these exciting arrivals, we must still ask, where are the engineers and the computer scientists? Why does hiring every VP of Engineering candidate take twelve months with four hiccups along the way? How can we afford NOT to have a new graduate school of applied science established right here in New York?
It’s simple: We cannot. Without it, we simply won’t have the talent pipeline we need to maintain this amazing momentum.
I couldn’t be more thrilled by the prospect of Stanford opening its doors on the shores of the East River. The jobs are here, and its presence would bring even more. While America is not winning in all things, we do win, and can continue to win, at innovation. Like the scene in the 90s edition Robin Hood where Kevin Costner kisses the sand, I think I speak for many in the technology scene in New York City when I say, “We are ready to pucker up to your island, sandy beaches or not.”
- Andy Dunn, Stanford GsB 2007
$150 million gift will promote entrepreneurship and innovation to fight poverty
- “More than a billion people live on less than $1.25 a day. That’s just not right.” Robert E. King, Stanford MBA ‘60
- “Entrepreneurship, innovation, and improved management are powerful ways to help alleviate poverty,” said Stanford University President John L. Hennessy.
- “Many people are doing relief or aid operations, but at the institute (Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies) we will be asking how we can stimulate entrepreneurs and business ideas so that the people receiving aid today can become self-sufficient so they won’t need aid in the future,” Professor Hau Lee, Stanford
Roosevelt Island Resident: Why Roosevelt Island and Stanford
Alex Fletcher is a Roosevelt Island resident and chemistry teacher.
The first time I laid eyes on Roosevelt Island I knew it was the only place in New York City that I would want to live. Where else in the city can you have a view of the Manhattan Skyline and river access and still be only minutes from midtown? The peaceful nature and tight knit community make Roosevelt Island feel like a peaceful suburb stuck right in the middle of the East River! You actually get to know your neighbors and going to the diner on a Sunday morning is as much a social event as the numerous community activities that occur practically every night. Living “up north” in the Manhattan Park building, I stroll daily down to Main Street and see how the island is changing day by day, with new stores coming in and improvements being made to the island facilities. It makes me proud to live here and excited for what the future holds for Roosevelt Island.
The intention for the community when it was founded was to be a forward thinking, inclusive population that demonstrated how better living could be accomplished in an urban environment. I can’t think of a better way to continue that tradition than to have Stanford join the Roosevelt Island community. The partnership has the potential to enrich the lives of island residents, Stanford students and New Yorkers beyond the scope of what is currently possible given that the city lacks a cutting edge research facility in the applied sciences. As a chemistry teacher, I see the future through the eyes of a scientist. I tell my students, “The more we learn about the world around us, the faster we are to build a brighter future.” Stanford is at the forefront of creating new ways of understanding our world and I believe that through their work that a brighter future is right around the corner.
- Alex Fletcher, Roosevelt Islander
The Stanford d.school: 3 Days in One Minute
Take a look inside the 3-day executive education program, an experience about putting the principles of design thinking to work in an active, participatory learning environment that engages and challenges.
We love collaborating with anyone who embodies a posture of learning, doing, and teaching others. One of the most motivated student audiences we host at the d.school are executives from industry, government, and non-profit organizations. These executives pressure test our methodologies against real world challenges with real world constraints. Having been acquainted with traditional executive education programs, we are amazed at watching executives’ bias towards action during our workshops. The video above was shot over the course of a 3-day workshop with 88 executives last July.
- Perry Klebahn and Jeremy Utley, Directors of Executive Education
The Stanford d.school: Making Space
Watch an overview of the Stanford d.school’s Environments Collaborative, their approach to workspace design, and the process of moving the d.school to it’s new home.
For us, space is a useful, malleable tool for hosting a learning experience. We continue to be inspired by the ways that students and professors alike use the space to set the tone of events and suggest behaviors forexperiences they create. Our teaching space is the product of an evolutionary process: over the course of four moves in four years, d.school students have hacked and manipulated each space to suit their needs. We have learned from these explorations and continue to evolve our space with each new student experience.
- Scott Doorley and Scott Witthoft, Directors of the Environments Collaborative
StanfordNYC: Developing the Sustainable City of Tomorrow
Jeff Koseff (pictured above at Machu Picchu) is a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Director of the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University.
What will the city of the future look like?
What materials, technologies and processes will enable a city’s infrastructure systems to sustain its inhabitants and the environment? The best way to answer this question is to bring these sustainable urban systems into the classroom.
Or we can bring the classroom to them.
As an incredibly high-density city that continues to grow, New York will in the next few decades face the massive task of renewing its transportation, communications, energy, and water infrastructure to accommodate population increases, energy demands, climate change, and the need for secure supplies of water, food, and materials. Of all of the compelling things a Stanford campus in New York would yield, one of the most exciting is the potential of a unique interdisciplinary graduate program in which physical scientists, engineers, and social scientists collaborate closely to address the most challenging problems of the sustainable city of tomorrow.
New York City would be their laboratory.
As just one example, let’s examine the way we view waste management.
Today’s waste management systems have been designed under the assumption that centralized is always better. They are enormous, leveraging economies of scale but always seemingly missing out on opportunities for synergy and the potential for resource recovery or reuse. The results of this type of system—one that hinges on collecting and moving huge amounts of so-called refuse—are well-known and ubiquitous. However, the decentralization of infrastructure elements made possible by new engineering technology—coupled with design, control, and integration of these infrastructure elements made possible by new software and computing technology—is creating a fundamental shift in the sustainability of our cities.
Typically thought of as something you’d like to get as far away from as possible, wastewater has the potential to be a gold mine: It is a source of water, it houses all kinds of nutrients and fertilizers, and through chemical conversation it can be a direct source of energy. Developing “scalping” technologies that use wastewater locally to its full potential can dramatically reduce the investment cost for urban infrastructure and transform current operating costs into new sources of jobs and revenue while dramatically reducing their environmental impact. This kind of investment in the natural system is one New Yorkers are quite familiar with: the state’s well-protected and well-preserved watershed in the Catskills enables it to function as one of the best and only unfiltered water delivery systems in the world – avoiding the exorbitant costs of traditional systems.
On Roosevelt Island, we could literally develop and test these kinds of novel technologies that could fundamentally change the way a city works. And the physical location of the campus provides an incredible chance to create a living lab through which to explore the issue of scale. What works on Roosevelt Island could be applied to Manhattan. What works in Manhattan could be scaled well beyond the shores of the Hudson.
This type of research is just one of the many ways that a sustainable urban systems program will change New York. Further down the road, imagine mechanical devices that utilize H2 from H2O as a fuel, replacing traditional combustion engines and reducing CO2 emission to zero. Imagine new composites that replace traditional glass windows with transparent, light-harvesting displays or ‘smart’ insulators that can adapt to real-time changes in environmental conditions.
And, of course, imagine the intellectual property resulting from these efforts that becomes the basis for partnerships or start-up companies seeking to commercialize disruptive technologies. Advances in materials science and engineering fostered by this program will create job opportunities and enhance sustainability and security through the innovative use of local resources, decreasing reliance upon imported energy, water, nutrients, and materials.
In developing the sustainable city of tomorrow, Stanford and New York will be looked to as leaders. What student of the future would not want to be part of all that?
- Jeff Koseff
Mayor Bloomberg’s Bold Vision to Spark Innovation and Entrepreneurship in NYC
The success of China’s Haidian District highlights the fact that countries around the world are investing in entrepreneurial ecosystems.
Selig Sacks is a Senior Partner at Pryor Cashman, LLP and Co-Chair of its China Practice. He is a graduate of Stanford Law School and is also very involved in promoting the arts in NYC and a passionate New York Rangers fan.
This past March, I had the opportunity to meet with the Dean of the Economics Department of Peking University and the Deans of the Schools of Management (Business Schools) of Peking and Tsinghua Universities. These are two of the great universities in China, each situated in the Haidian District of Beijing.
- 30% of all IPOs of Chinese companies come from the District.
- According to the Vice Mayor of Beijing, 280 private equity firms have located in the Haidian District and over 800 companies meet the listing requirements for ChiNext – Shenzhen Stock Exchange, which support small and medium sized enterprises.
- If you are a China-based public company in tech, media or telecom, chances are you are located there.
Startup companies founded by students from a great university plus a venture capital and private equity community at the ready to provide financial and human capital: sounds familiar, right?
In my meetings in the Haidian District there were repeated references to Stanford and Silicon Valley and how the great academic institutions located there can continue to learn from and emulate the relationship between the two.
Since graduating from Stanford Law School, I’ve had the opportunity to build a practice in NYC focused on private equity and representing China-based companies seeking access to U.S. capital markets by going public here. During that time, I’ve seen many Haidian District companies evolve from startups to significant tech players both in China and beyond.
The success of Haidian District highlights the fact that countries around the world are investing in entrepreneurial ecosystems. Mayor Bloomberg’s vision of creating an applied science graduate center for teaching and research in New York City is equally bold. Everything about the ambitions for the proposed campus – to spark innovation and entrepreneurship – is synonymous with Stanford’s values.
When I return to the Stanford Law School campus or attend Alumni Association events in New York, I am consistently overwhelmed by a sense of community and collaboration. And under Dean Larry Kramer’s leadership at the Law School, there are endless opportunities to take classes in other disciplines and benefit from the talents and intellectual curiosity of students with very different skill sets, technical and otherwise.
This sense of collaboration and entrepreneurship is part of Stanford’s DNA. It seems to me that we have a unique opportunity to blend that culture of scientific advancement, innovation, cooperation, and entrepreneurship with the strengths of New York City.
I’m excited about the potential to have an influx of new Stanford engineers and scientists who will infuse our community here in New York with the entrepreneurial “can do” attitude which epitomizes Stanford. GO Cardinal.
- Selig Sacks