The last bubble was a bit crazy.
In the summer of 1999 I graduated school with a degree in CS and took a job in NYC with a startup. Well, that isn’t exactly true. The startup I agreed to work for, i33, was bought out, not once but twice, between my accepting the offer and my first day. 1999 was a crazy time.
Why am I telling you all of this? Well I wanted to give a little bit of a backdrop, for those that didn’t get to experience it, on how crazy things were at the height of the last bubble.
Anyway, things feel really different now.
11 years ago when I was new to NYC most of the programmers I knew worked for banks or, if they were lucky, hedge funds. They were expected to dress well, no hoodies, and programmers who worked at startups in NYC were seen as oddballs. When I told people I was a programmer at a startup, I left my first job for a company of 7 people, it wasn’t seen as a cool thing. It was more like I was living in my parents’ basement. This was because banks paid so well that the best coders went there, so either you weren’t as good as them or you were a bit crazy: turning down the money to take a flyer.
There were a couple hacker type gatherings; they mostly revolved around Unix programmers and beer. Again, they were a lot of fun, but a good turnout was 20 people; nothing like the NY Tech Meetup today.
Don’t get me wrong, there was a lot of unbounded optimism, but as a you coder there weren’t a lot of hero’s in the NY startup scene. I remember some really amazing programmers helping to start hedge funds. Hopefully, today they would start a big data company.
Things feel pretty different today. There are a bunch of tech savvy founders who are doing interesting things, and you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a startup incubator. I believe NYC is close to, or has passed, the point where the ecosystem is self-sustaining and I’m really excited about tech here now. I’m hoping that I can help young geeks do great things in NYC; basically I want to help techies succeed in NYC because I remember how overwhelming it was the last time.