Don’t Call it a Comeback, NYC Never Left
Tech Team Vice President Monika Hathaway on why the Big Apple’s technological innovation demise amid COVID-19 has been greatly exaggerated.
As entrepreneur and angel investor James Altucher infamously wrote in an August LinkedIn post, “NYC is dead forever.” Many, including Mr. NYC himself, Jerry Seinfeld, came out to refute the claims and stand up for the city that never sleeps and has been through its share of ups and downs. This Silicon-Valley transplant is here to back up the believers and hopefuls. My creds? My team has been working throughout the pandemic with NYC businesses, from essential workers to cutting-edge innovators – their stories speak for themselves.
Among them — and very much not dead — is Alloy, an identity operating system for financial services firms, that closed its $40M Series B in September (while one of its co-founders was pregnant no less). Throughout 2020, the Alloy team doubled its headcount in order to meet the growing demand for its services, all while building a culture that would be the envy of any top tech firm.
Photo by Jonathan Riley on Unsplash
Despite breakneck growth, it prioritized employee wellness above all, offering new programs including free therapy sessions through Samata Health, a no-questions-asked stipend to be spent on anything from a new monitor to pizza delivery, access to a telemedicine concierge through Eden Health, and remote experiences including cooking classes, a home ergonomics workshop, meditation and drag bingo. They also turned the office snack budget into a monthly Seamless budget.
The next-generation, design and engineering platform nTopology, used by the likes of Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Air Force, also closed its $40M Series C. Its platform is not only being used on the front lines of COVID to help rapidly manufacture testing swabs, but is also being used to make manufacturing more sustainable by helping engineers reduce the number of individual components required to make complex parts such as jet engines. My favorite use case has to be the pet prosthetics designed on its platform (click the link at your own risk, you may get hit in the feels).
Electric has been instrumental in helping our nation’s critical SMBs transition to remote work with its custom IT solutions. It reopened its $25M Series B in March to raise an additional $14.5M from high-profile investors Dick Costolo and Adam Bain as it scaled to meet skyrocketing demand. The team answers an average of 11,000 tickets per month for more than 10,000 end users, and is on track to double its headcount for the third year in a row, having hired more than 75 people since the pandemic began.
It’s been able to attract top IT talent by building an empathetic culture focused on preventing burnout with benefits such as no-meeting Thursdays and mandatory, company-wide PTO the first Friday of every month. While bolstering and growing its internal systems and teams, Electric has also been actively contributing to incredibly meaningful change. Among other initiatives, the company is part of NYTechCares, a program that crowd-sources funds, resources and donations to help low-income students in NYC access e-learning opportunities. Electric has also partnered with The Last Mile, a non-profit organization that provides coding and technology training to the incarcerated population across the U.S.
Stealth Communications, a 25-year gigabit fiber internet provider for NYC businesses reaching the fastest internet speeds in the entire U.S., according to Broadband Now, has been working for years to close the digital divide in its backyard. In addition to providing connectivity for a variety of education institutions, the company was tapped to help build out the infrastructure for several local medical practices to support the bandwidth required for critical telemedicine services, including construction in Chinatown and Midtown to install new conduits. For all the hype, it wasn’t 5G or national ISPs coming to the rescue, it was New Yorkers stepping up to help their own in a time of crisis.
Unqork, the leading no-code platform designed to support mission critical enterprise applications, actually minted itself as one of NYC’s newest unicorns when it announced its $207M Series C in October. Not only is Unqork now valued at a cool $2B a mere three years after its founding, but it also increased its headcount by more than 100% in 2020, now up to over 350, and tripled ARR for the third year in a row.
Unqork joined in the fight against COVID by helping leading municipalities use its platform to engage their populations and help track COVID. As a result, New York City successfully deployed a management hub in March that enabled the delivery of over two million meals to residents, accepted donations of essential medical supplies, and allowed NYC residents to self-report how they were impacted by COVID-19. That’s in addition to the total transformation of enterprise application development it is helping to usher in with customers that include Goldman Sachs, Liberty Mutual, Pacific Life and John Hancock. Opposite of dead if you ask me!
As Dustin Hoffman said in Midnight Cowboy, “Hey, I’m working here!” or something like that. The point is, NYC was a powerhouse of business and culture in 1969 and it’s still true today, 51 years later. NYC is not only alive and kicking, it’s helping to usher in the next generation of technological innovation that will impact the world for decades to come. This city has survived through the worst of history, and it will survive this pandemic. So, go ahead and cancel that Zoom funeral, we’ll be here.
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