Marcia Stepanek is a regular contributing writer for Justmeans and co-founder of Contribute Media. She also is Publisher of Cause Global, a group blog about the use of social media in social advocacy and innovation. Previously, she was executive editor and co-founder of CIO Insight Magazine and Web strategies editor at BusinessWeek, as well as the national economics correspondent and special proje...
Bloomberg Launches $22m Fund to Support Start-ups
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg made a surprise appearance at Day Two of this week's TechCrunch Disrupt conference to make a strong case for Manhattan as the nation's hottest Web start-up community. To underscore the point to the more than 500 entrepreneurs attending, Bloomberg formally announced the city is launching a $22 million fund in partnership with FirstMark Capital, a New York VC firm, to support start-up entrepreneurs.
As its first investment, the NY Entrepreneurial Fund is supporting MyCityWay, which is building mobile applications to help users find information about city landmarks, restaurants, and other location-based data from their cellphones.
Bloomberg also said he would be announcing later this year the creation of a "major" media lab for Web business and "social business" ventures -- similar to the MIT Media Lab --in collaboration with a New York City university. He didn't specify which one.
"New York City is just as good of a place as Silicon Valley, or better, for start-ups," Bloomberg said. "During the past 18 months or so, we've seen a flowering of start-ups in New York City; it's one of the most immigrant-friendly cities in America; we live as a mixture, not as a mosaic." He added that "people from all over the world...all live and work side-by-side, they all go down the same steps to the subway, they all go to get coffee at Starbucks ... it promotes an understanding" that is unique.
Bloomberg added that the city is home to 15,000 tech start-up jobs, "more than any other single metro area" in the United States, and that during the first three months of this year, New York's venture funding of metro-area tech start-ups rose to $566 million, up 19 percent over the last quarter of 2009, "even as it went down in Silicon Valley" and nationally.
A philanthropist and founder of Bloomberg media, Bloomberg shared bits of his own story as an entrepreneur, which he says began after he was fired from the former Wall Street investment firm, Solomon Brothers. "Twenty months ago, when Wall Street went into a tailspin, City Hall went into overdrive," he said. "The people who were losing their jobs in financial sector firms were those we knew we had to keep in this city."
TechCrunch ends tonight. Watch this space for updates.