Fred Wilson & Tim Armstrong
The tech sector in New York City has grown into one of the most important contributors to the City and State economy over the past 20 years. Looking forward it seems that trend will only continue and accelerate over the next 20 years. With that success comes a responsibility to be engaged with the local business community, government, and civic sectors.
A number of individuals who have been longtime members of the NYC tech community have found ourselves and our companies getting asked to represent our community in discussions with local and state governments, regulators, the local business community at large, and civic sectors. These requests have become more demanding in recent years, which is not sustainable. Even more importantly, we feel that the NYC tech community deserves a more formal and representative organization to represent itself before local and state governments and the business community and civic sector.
The way other industries have addressed this issue is to create an industry advocacy organization. We feel that it is time for the tech sector in NYC to do the same.
There are a few groups who have been providing some of this engagement over the past twenty years. The NY Tech Meetup has done an amazing job of representing its thousands of individual members with the broader business and civic organizations. And the Partnership for New York City has worked hard to include tech companies and their interests within its broader mandate. But, regardless of these efforts, there remains no organization that exclusively represents the thousands of tech companies, large and small, that are located in NYC.
To address this issue, we propose to create Tech:NYC. It will be a nonprofit, member-supported organization open to all NYC tech companies that want to join. It will also be open to organizations that are not classic tech companies but are sympathetic to the issues that tech companies face and that would like to support and join the cause of tech companies locally.
Tech:NYC’s primary goals are to support the growth of the technology sector in New York City, to increase civic engagement by leaders of the New York tech community, and advocate for policies that will attract tech talent, jobs, and opportunity to NYC.
Tech:NYC will advocate for policies that: 1) underscore a regulatory environment that supports the growth of technology companies and technology talent in NYC; 2) promote inclusivity; and 3) ensure access for all New Yorkers to connectivity, technology tools, and training.
Many of the most important public policy issues confronting New York City and State are directly connected to the impact of technology. In just the past few months, for example, we’ve debated a data breach bill, local drone regulation, how to handle ride-sharing and home-sharing services, and how to treat contract employees. That’s not to mention taxation, educational credentiality, or public procurement. These hard issues require nuance and engagement. We need to ensure that the voice of the NYC technology community is part of each of these vital conversations. Tech:NYC will be part of a long New York tradition of engaging with our political leaders to get to the right result. We understand the need for regulation and legislation, but we must ensure that it is balanced and effective.
The NYC tech community is not alone in this challenge. Our friends and colleagues in San Francisco created sf.citi a few years ago to address a similar need. It is our hope that the tech communities in other cities around the country join us in following their lead. Together, we can create a network of local advocacy organizations that support each other and collaborate on issues we share, working together as a powerful advocacy network for better tech policy around the US and the world.
It goes without saying that New York City is one of the most important cities in the world. Our city is a leader in media, finance, culture, fashion, government and—of course—innovation. It also goes without saying that our world is in the midst of a digital transformation, and like all great transformations, the regions, cities, and companies that stay ahead of the trends become beacons of growth and progress. On this front, New York City is incredibly well positioned to continue its leadership by relying on its many natural assets—a strong and growing university system, a robust capital structure, a diverse and growing talent base, a multi-disciplinary private and public sector, and a growing connection with leaders from other important technology hubs.
Tech:NYC will be led by Julie Samuels who is ideally suited to provide the day-to-day leadership this effort requires. Julie has spent most of her career working on technology policy issues. She recently ran Engine, a leading national advocacy organization supporting entrepreneurship and technology policy, primarily at the federal level, and she remains president of that organization's board. Prior to that, she was a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, where many of us first got to know Julie and her zeal as an advocate.
Our board will include representatives from tech companies large and small in NYC. It will be chaired by Tim Armstrong and Fred Wilson and includes Shana Fisher, William Floyd, Desiree Gruber, Rachel Haot, Dan Huttenlocher, Michelle Peluso, Serkan Piantino, Kevin Ryan, Reshma Saujani, Kevin Sheekey, Ragy Thomas, Carly Zakin, and Julie. We will expand the Board in the coming months to make sure it is truly representative of our community.
If your company would like to join Tech:NYC please apply to join at technyc.org/membership. Minimum dues are determined by company size.
We are excited to launch Tech:NYC. It is long overdue in our minds and we plan to hit the ground running. We hope you will join and support us.