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New York Is the Internet
How NYC Is a Metaphor For Our Online World
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New York Is the Internet
I’m excited to share a life update: I’m moving to New York! 🎉🗽
My partner and I are making the move on May 29th (in three weeks!), and I’ll be helping to launch Index New York. Those who know me know that New York City is my favorite place in the world—it’s where I feel most alive, and it’s where I feel most at home.
I fell in love with New York for the same reasons that I fell in love with the internet.
New York is chaotic, wild, and unruly. The internet is chaotic, wild, and unruly. New York pulses with a frenzied electricity; so does the internet.
In many ways, New York is a metaphor for the internet:
Both are comprised of a million little niches—a million lives and cultures and subcultures and communities, all overlapping and intersecting and bleeding into one another. Everyone can find somewhere to belong in New York, just as everyone can find somewhere to belong online. Over the last 100 years, millions of people who grew up in small towns, feeling alone and feeling different from everyone else, have made the pilgrimage to New York and found their place. Over the last 25 years, the internet has provided a similar refuge—Discord servers, YouTube channels, TikTok feeds, Reddit forums.
New York, like the internet, is messy and imperfect, but beautiful in that imperfection. What I love about New York and about the internet is that they each embody a collision of humanity.
I often think back to a comment I read last year on a New York Times piece about how the pandemic was impacting New York. The comment was from a taxi driver, and it embodied New York’s spirit:
“All things are possible.” That hopefulness is what I love about New York. As they say, concrete jungle where dreams are made of. (Or as the internet interpreted it, concrete jungle wet dream tomato 🍅.)
Of course, there are also a lot of business reasons to move back to New York. New York is exploding as a tech hub. Last year, NYC venture funding hit an all-time high of $52.3 billion—a 2.6x increase from 2020.
Young talent is flocking to New York. Seemingly every other seed-stage startup I meet is based in NYC. And the top-of-funnel for talent will only continue to be refilled. Google just spent $2.1 billion on a new NYC headquarters. Facebook, not to be outdone, now owns 2.2 million square feet of office space in New York. Amazon and Apple have each hired thousands of workers in NYC.
Index Ventures, where I work, has offices in London and San Francisco. A midpoint in New York makes sense, serving as a bridge between teams and deepening our connection to the NYC ecosystem. (Selfishly, I’m excited that our 7:00am PT Monday team meeting will now be at 10:00am for me 😁)
We’ve been investing in New York for a long time at Index. We led rounds in Etsy in 2010 and again in 2012. We led Datadog’s Series A in 2012, and its Series C in 2015. Ditto for Squarespace’s Series A in 2012.
More recently, we’ve invested in NYC-based companies like Fireblocks and Cockroach Labs and Beam, while some of our companies born on the West Coast are now among New York’s fastest-growing employers—Figma, Plaid, Robinhood, and Notion, in particular, are hiring hundreds of workers in the Big Apple. (Check out our job boards here.)
As we’ve invested globally, we’ve seen our companies use New York as a bridge to America. We’re seeing this again right now with portfolio companies like Wiz (Israel) and Collibra (Belgium) using NYC as a launching pad into the U.S. market.
It makes sense to be in New York. New York is a major hub—in some cases, the hub—for nearly every industry: finance, fashion, advertising, art, theater. Crucially, it’s now also a major tech hub. Part of New York’s appeal is its diversity: while most of my friends in San Francisco work in tech, my friends in New York run the gamut—they’re theater performers, baristas, entrepreneurs, artists, fitness instructors. That vibrancy is the secret to New York’s success.
I’ve written in the past about how our online lives are expanding. In the past, our online lives centered around a closed social graph anchored by geography and the analog world: our Facebook feeds were populated by college roommates, high school friends, coworkers. Now, the internet is expanding beyond being a digital simulacrum of our offline lives, into being its own unconstrained universe.
In Meta’s earnings call last week, Mark Zuckerberg touched on this change:
The second point is that while we’re experiencing an increase in short-form video, we’re also seeing a major shift in feeds from being almost exclusively curated by your social graph or follow graph to now having more of your feed recommended by AI, even if the content wasn’t posted by a friend or someone you follow. Social content from friends and people and businesses you follow will continue being a lot of the most valuable, engaging and differentiated content for our services, but now also being able to accurately recommend content from the whole universe that you don’t follow directly unlocks a large amount of interesting and useful videos and posts that you might have otherwise missed.
In this new paradigm, New York becomes an even better metaphor for the internet. Social media 1.0 was your small town, familiar and intimate. Now, as we approach five billion people online, the internet resembles the chaos and dynamism of New York.
I’ve lived in California for five years, and I’ll miss it. And of course, I’ll still spend lots of time in LA and SF. I’ll still be a global investor, as will Index. I’m a believer that in today’s world of work, you can and should live where you’re happiest; we’re at our most productive when we’re at our happiest.
For me, that’s New York. It’s where my family lives. It’s where my partner and I met years ago (our first date was Cafe Cluny in the West Village, followed by the 10pm show at Comedy Cellar). And it’s where we hope to one day raise a family of our own—oddly enough, we seem to get our energy from living on top of a million other people.
New York is a city of innovation and evolution. Since I last lived here five years ago, there are new skyscrapers and new parks and even new neighborhoods—One Vanderbilt, Little Island, Hudson Yards. The city is a living, breathing organism, constantly reinventing itself. That’s been true for decades.
If you’re based in New York or if you find yourself traveling through, send me a note. And let me know your favorite places and sights and hidden gems. It’s been a while since I’ve lived here, and I’m rusty on where to find the best bagels 😊🥯
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