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Silicon Alley, centered in Manhattan, has evolved into a metonym for the sphere encompassing the New York City metropolitan region's high tech industries involving the Internet, new media, telecommunications, digital media, software development, biotechnology, game design, and other fields within information technology that are supported by its entrepreneurship ecosystem and venture capital investments. In the first half of 2014, Silicon Alley generated over US$2.1 billion in venture capital investment across a broad spectrum of high technology enterprises, most based in Manhattan, with others in Brooklyn, Queens, and elsewhere in the region. High technology startup companies and employment are growing in New York City and across the metropolitan region, bolstered by the city's position in North America as the leading Internet hub and telecommunications center, including its vicinity to several transatlantic fiber optic trunk lines, New York's intellectual capital, and its extensive outdoor wireless connectivity.
The term Silicon Alley was derived from the long established Silicon Valley in California. It was originally centered in the vicinity of the Flatiron Building, located on Fifth Avenue near Broadway and 23rd Street in Manhattan. Silicon Alley had initially also been a term used to extend to Dumbo, a neighborhood in Brooklyn. Companies that reside in Dumbo range from Web Liquid, a digital marketing agency, to Amplify Education, an education technology company. However, Silicon Alley was always a name more than a place, and as entrepreneurship spread outward to other locations across Manhattan, New York City, and the New York metro area, and evolved beyond Internet and new media ventures, the scope of the term has also expanded to be metonymous for a broad spectrum of entrepreneurial activity throughout the New York City metropolitan region.
The first use of the term Silicon Alley was by a New York Staffing Recruiter, Jason Denmark, who was supporting clients in the newly dubbed technical hub in downtown Manhattan. In an effort to attract candidates who, at that time, were focusing on positions in Silicon Valley, Jason Denmark posted in public usenet postings of Object Technology Developers, job ads with the Silicon Alley label.
"Subject: NYC - silicon ALLEY" shows up in an internet post by Jason Denmark on February 16, 1995. Another Jason Denmark post on June 16, 1995, is "Subject: SILICON 'ALLEY' POSITIONS."
The first publication to cover Silicon Alley was @NY, an online newsletter founded in the summer of 1995 by Tom Watson and Jason Chervokas. The first magazine to focus on venture capital opportunities in Silicon Alley, AlleyCat News co-founded by Anna Copeland Wheatley and Janet Stites, was launched in the fall of 1996. Courtney Pulitzer branched off from her @The Scene column with @NY and created Courtney Pulitzer's Cyber Scene and her popular networking events Cocktails with Courtney. First Tuesday, co-founded by Vincent Grimaldi de Puget and John Grossbart, became the largest gathering of Silicon Alley, welcoming 500 to 1000 venture capitalists and entrepreneurs every month. It was an initiative of law firm Sonnenschein and the Kellogg School of Management, as well as other corporate founders, including Accenture (then Andersen Consulting), AlleyCat News and Merrill Lynch. Silicon Alley Reporter started publishing in October 1996. It was founded by Jason Calacanis and was in business from 1996–2001. @NY, print magazines, and the attending media coverage by the larger New York press helped to popularize both the name, and the idea of New York City as a dot-com center.
In 1997, over 200 members and leaders of Silicon Alley joined NYC entrepreneurs, Andrew Rasiej and Cecilia Pagkalinawan to help wire Washington Irving High School to the Internet. This response and the Department of Education's growing need for technology integration marked the birth of MOUSE, an organization that today serves tens of thousands of underserved youth in schools in five states and over 20 countries. After the bubble burst, Silicon Alley Reporter was rebranded as Venture Reporter, in September 2001, and sold to Dow Jones. Self-financed AlleyCat News ceased publication in October 2001.
A couple of years after the Internet bust, Silicon Alley began making its comeback with the help of NY Tech Meetup and NextNY. Since 2003, Silicon Alley has seen a steady growth in the number of startups and has joined the ranks of Boston and San Francisco as one of the three leading technology centers in the United States. As of 2007, Google's second largest office is located in New York. And, as of 2009, New York's Silicon Alley has become the startup leader in advertising, new media, financial technologies such as MediaMind, Shutterstock, DoubleClick IAC, meetup.com and a slew of web 2.0 companies. Silicon Alley still ranks third behind Silicon Valley and Boston in the number of deals and overall investment rates, but New York is holding its own against the other big hubs and possibly beginning to increase its share.
Verizon Communications, headquartered at 140 West Street in Lower Manhattan, was at the final stages in 2014 of completing a US$3 billion fiberoptic telecommunications upgrade throughout New York City.
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- Ivan Pereira (December 10, 2013). "City opens nation's largest continuous Wi-Fi zone in Harlem". amNewYork/Newsday. Retrieved July 29, 2014.
- New York City Takes on Silicon Valley WNYC. Retrieved January 27, 2012.
- Jon Brodkin (June 9, 2014). "Verizon will miss deadline to wire all of New York City with FiOS". Condé Nast. Retrieved July 30, 2014.
- The New York Post, "Silicon Alley Soaring," January 24, 2012
- New York Times "Alive and Well in Silicon Alley", March 12, 2006
- New York Times "New York Isn’t Silicon Valley. That’s Why They Like It.", March 6, 2010
- Silicon Alley Insider
- SiliconAlley.com, "New York's Tax-Free Zones: An Emerging Technology Company's Dream Come True?," July 26,2013
- "Silicon Alley" Is Dead
- "Silicon Valley vs. Silicon Alley: Can New York compete with the best of the west?"