New York’s Tech Community Has Found Its Voice, And Not A Moment Too Soon

Julie Samuels

Read Tech:NYC’s second annual report now.

New York’s position as a rapidly growing tech hub has received a considerable amount of attention in recent months. From new research showing a tech hiring spree is underway to NYC’s emergence as a capital for blockchain tech, our city has proven it can attract talent, spur growth, and encourage innovation.

This is about more than company growth. It is also about our sector finding its voice and weighing in on the policy issues of our day. It is hard to think of a time when this was more important, especially with major policy battles looming at the local, state, and federal levels.

One need look no further than the recent nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, which apparently does not bode well for the tech and startup community, especially when it comes to net neutrality. In a previous case, Kavanaugh wrote that the FCC’s 2015 “net neutrality rule is one of the most consequential regulations ever issued,” and he said the rule was “unlawful and must be vacated.” If the Senate approves Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court, we face a real battle for a free and open internet.

Thankfully, our community is organized and ready. Tech:NYC now has more than 630 member companies across all five boroughs, and in our second year of operation, we’ve seen them use their voices on a wide range of issues. I’ve been lucky to have a front row seat.

Over the last year, this community has fought for DREAMers, made the case for net neutrality, pushed to expand funding for computer science education, and much more. Needless to say, we aren’t the only stakeholders fighting these battles, but with 220 of our member companies engaging with elected officials in the past year, we’ve shown that New York tech is here, has something to say, and is dedicated to creating a better world for everyone in New York.

Importantly, many of these companies are small and growing businesses. Through engagement and representation, Tech:NYC has given a platform to smaller entities and created a culture where they can interact with government, bigger organizations, and each other.

Whether it’s technical policy work like working with city leaders to create a task force to study public algorithms or pushing New York State to commit $30 million to STEM education, we believe New York is better off when tech leaders are part of the conversation. The world’s future is tech-oriented, and it’s therefore vital that members like ours can offer input on the biggest challenges facing our society.

Our broader tech community still faces ongoing battles over net neutrality and creating opportunity for immigrant entrepreneurs, and we must work hard to improve our sector’s diversity and defend LGBTQ rights. In New York specifically, we have been active in our support for common sense solutions like implementing congestion pricing to help pay for public transit improvements, instituting automatic voter registration, and working with local leaders on middle-of-the-road regulations that won’t discourage startups from coming to NYC.

There’s a litany of pressing items, but as the last two years demonstrate, New York’s tech community is well-equipped to take part in the democratic process and ensure officials pass the best possible legislation.

New York’s tech boom isn’t just a headline. It’s an ongoing renaissance, and we can’t wait to continue building alongside this community.

Photo credit: New York City sunset by IM_photo/Shutterstock