In a surprise visit, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg showed up to the TechCrunch: Disrupt conference this morning to establish his IT and social media credentials and make the case for businesses to invest in New York's Silicon Alley.
Bloomberg said New York was angling to increase its high-tech business market share, and used his experience as the founder of his eponymous financial information company to convey understanding of the startup mindset.
"We know talent is the city's number one asset," Bloomberg said. "Startups need office spaces, equipment, a chance to rub shoulders...we're continuing to help IT firms find out about opportunities to do business with agencies in our city. We have a lot of business to give out."
Bloomberg announced that New York will launch media lab "at major university in city" later this year.
He also announced a partnership with First Mark Capital -- which had promised to co-invest up to $19 million in an NYC entrepreneurial fund founded a year ago -- that expands that investment to $22 million.
Finally, he announced that the fund made its first investment: $300,000 to mobile app provider My City Way for a New York-specific app.
Some choice quotes from the mayor's whirlwind appearance:
- On Bloomberg: "We are a technology company but we've changed as the world has changed...too many companies just stay with the same old thing."
- "Small businesses are the future of America."
- On My City Way's app: "If you're from out of town and thinking about relocating here, you can find jobs and real estate listings."
- On My City Way's investment: "It's enabled them to move to New York City from their former home in New Jersey and also add a few more employees."
- "In New York City, we understand that innovation drives economic growth. We're nurturing information technology...if you have an idea, New York City is the city for you."
- "This is the city where it's happening, and it's happening in IT, and bioscience. If you want to start a business, or have your business grow, it is an awful lot easier to attract the best and the brightest because they want to live here."
- "If you're a smart person, this is the happening city."
- On NYC's value proposition: "We live as a mixture, not as a mosaic. In technology, you want to have the breadth of people around the world...those who can compete in the Big Apple will stay here."
- "Competing against big companies is so much easier than competing against small companies. History always shows that."
- On who NYC should appeal to: "If you're going to make a million t-shirts, you're not going to do it in New York City. If you're Oscar de la Renta and move the bow from here to there and get a great idea and have the greatest seamstresses in the world, you've got to do it here."
Bloomberg also discussed his company's recent acquisition of BusinessWeek.
"I'm a big fan of quality media, he said. "The problem is not distribution, the question is, is it something that you need? An awful lot of media have gone away from what the public wants to receive."
Bloomberg said too many publications and brands have focused on pop-up ads, not quality.
"The magazines that are in trouble are in trouble because they're writing the same stuff everybody else is," he said. "They aren't germane to people's lives anymore. Capitalism really works."
In closing, Bloomberg made a market-style case for professional journalists as curators, skippers and arbiters of the need-to-know. (Or "news fund managers," if I may.)
"You don't know what is going to be important to you tomorrow," he said. "You want to hire somebody to make that decision for you. That's called an editor."
Photo: Andrew Mager/Flickr