Ken MakovskyThursday, January 3, 2019
If you were a passionate music fan growing up, you may be familiar with the concept of “Number One with a Bullet” – a tag invented by Billboard magazine to highlight a chart-climbing song that’s gaining so much momentum, it’s going to go over the top.
That analogy struck me recently when I read a year-end prediction based on the surging growth of the technology industry in, of all places in the country, New York City, known more for finance, international trade, healthcare, and fashion. While the NYC tech community has excelled in niches such as digital advertising and online retail, it’s been viewed as trailing the leaders in game-changing technologies of the future such as artificial intelligence (AI). Well, things may be about to change.
Why do I say this? A recent report by the research firm Forrester, published in Crain’s New York, concluded that New York is now the Number One U.S. state in terms of the sheer size of its technology community. It has overtaken the former leader, the Bay Area of California (comprising Oakland, San Francisco, and Silicon Valley) with 330,000 tech workers, 23,000 more than the Bay Area.
New York’s tech talent is said to be populated by technology managers, database administrators, network specialists, and twice as many IT security specialists as the Bay Area, ideal for tech vendors and end users. These categories of tech talent may be regarded as a bit less glam than the Bay Area, whose strength in tech talent focuses more on app developers, “elite tech talent” and “niche expertise in emerging technologies,” per Forrester. Today, the Bay Area has 50% more startups than New York, though New York now ranks second in startups.
But New York could catch up, in my opinion. Its momentum in tech is underscored not only by the size of its tech community. Forrester also determined that New York is also producing more computer-science graduates (bachelor’s degree or higher) on an annual basis than any other area in the U.S., representing 7,631 tech specialists. This is slightly more than the #2 area, Washington, D.C. (at 7,478 graduates). These graduates likely will want to keep their talent in the New York based on the tremendous opportunities ahead: Amazon’s placing its new second headquarters in Long Island City and Google expanding in Manhattan — strong indicators of the attraction to NYC’s growing talent pool. The numbers will be huge, and more will come.
I am personally very excited about the new wave of innovation in our backyard suggested by this trend. Tech innovation brings new kinds of jobs and more opportunity for society and for business. Makovsky grew up and thrived over the course of several generations of rapid technological change and the rise of digital, affecting many industries. We continue to benefit. Can’t wait to see what 2019 will bode!