Friday May 17th I took the day to meet some of the interesting tech companies present in New York. There are over 1,200 tech companies in NY (including CodeAcademy, KickStarter, Foursquare, MakerBot, ZocDoc, Guilt, AppNexus, Tumblr, Etsy, KickStarter, Automatic… and mine!), most between the Flat Iron and SoHo areas of Manhattan (Silicon ALley). So I chose a few that, for one reason or another, I was interested in meeting and talk to their founders.
- First I went to Harvest. Had a sandwich and some water while Danny Wen told me how they are a self-funded company (finally someone who is not living out of “raised capital” while diluting their ownership). Interesting and successful, if one-product, company. Nice loft office, piano included. Not “too cool”, not “too cold”.
- Since I had a bit of extra time, I walked to Animoto. Talk about “too cool for school”. Some very nice touches, but, really 6 guitars, 2 keyboards, fussball, XBox… (then again, at our NY office we have ping-pong, basketball, and hammocks; and at our Spain office we have ping-pong, and a PlayStation). I use their very nice service, and their “themed meeting rooms” (particularly MarioLand) are great. But the need to prove goofiness, and indie, and gamify, and storify, and… you get the point. Too much. Forced. Not believable. Trying too hard (the PR story about this guy and his wedding was just unnecessary, absurd and unrelated).
- On my way to the next meeting I had to do a teleconference with Uruguay, and another one with Peru, so I walked again (when will we have cell coverage in the subway?).
- Second Market was next. Nice design for a financial services company. Strange the number of desks and computers without anyone using them. And a surprisingly high number of young Jewish males wearing their kipa working there. I thought it might be interesting but I realized neither the service nor the technology was of too much interest to me.
- Then I went to one I really wanted to see: Artsy (formerly Art.sy, now Artsy.net). The best views of all of the offices I visited. Such amazing views that somebody wrote in FourSquare “If I had those views I would not get any work done” and somebody else replied “I have those views and I don’t get any work done!”. I liked their office, their attitude, and their technology (Open Source).
- My last stop (actually, I went back to Harvest to ask a question to their tech support director, but his answer is definitely not worth blogging about) was HookLoop, the $500 million Ny bet of Infor on app refresh. Huge company. Really huge. Awesome mentality (eyecandy like I like it). Had a nice conversation with Dan (PR Director) at the CEO’s desk. Found some synergies. Will continue the talk with one of their VPs hopefully next week.
26,605 steps later (according to the app in my phone that tracks my movements), I got back home. Exhausted, but exhilarated. I love Silicon Alley.
If I go to the office, I complain that there are too many distractions: whether it is the boom-boom music form the downstairs SoHo store, my coworkers playing ping-pong, street art that requires my attention, or the temptation of a Japanese bento box or mochi with tea…
But if I stay at home, Calvin makes sure I am not as productive as I could be.
OK, I admit it, this was a very silly excuse to try a new slider plugin with Pinterest non-official API… and trying those things is not a diversion or distraction, is part of my job, I swear!
Carna botnet offers us this amazing 24 hour visualization of relative IPv4 utilization observed using ICMP Ping requests.
Look at the data, just look at it! Don’t you see people’s sleeping patterns, internet usage patterns, eating schedule habit, cultural differences, urban influence, regional inequalities…?
After MIT’s crazy week, back in NY I needed a couple of days of sleep and relax to get back into the normal rhythm. Luckily it was SuperBowl weekend, so the streets (and Chelsea Market) were fairly empty!
So on Tuesday I was ready to get going full speed ahead. First, after meeting with P. Oberton in the NYPL, then I went to Condé Nast publications’ building, into Wired Magazine, to discuss a PR campaign/project along with Valencia Regional Minister of Industry (& etc) Max Buch.
After that, I joined Ken Morse at IBM’s Smart Camp cocktail party (at IBM’s midtown headquarters) where I met great entrepreneurs who told me about their exciting companies, and by the end of the evening stablished a commercial collaboration pre-agreemnt with two of them.
The final day was an interesting one.
My team (team senZa) choose me to do the presentation of the team’s project. We all thought we did an excellent job, and everybody in the room (372) congratulated us. One of the judges even said “it is the best one I have ever seen”. But… lo and behold, we were not selected to the final round. And what’s even worst, we received almost no feedback.
Yet, the worst was having to endure Frederic Kerrest alpha-male type arrogance during his lunch presentation. What do they feed them for breakfast? I’ll have the other thing, please.
Certificate award in hand, the MIT adventure is over. Overall, a great experience and awesome networking opportunities. Now I should stop blogging about it and start writing to all those people whose business cards are sitting on my desk and whose LinkedIn profile connexions are awaiting for replies.
Day 5 started with a presentation of MIT’s eMBA and the REAP program.
After that, lectures by William Aulet, Scott Keating, Paul Maeder, and Antoinette Schoar.
And then… an all-nighter preparing the group project. Tension, stress, frustration, but in the end a great feeling of accomplishment, and pride in a job well done.
Day 4 started with a corporate presentation (we got to choose, and I attended the one by Pfizer) at 7:30am, in which Pfizer’s Senior Vice President of Research and Development talked about the rapidly shifting way in which big pharma is working, and mentioned an unacceptable fact that should make us all reflect on how much the patent system is broken:
Pfizer has 98,000 employees… and 31,000 lawyers!
The rest of the day I attended classes by Catherine Tucker, Brian Halligan, and a speech by Dean David Schmittlein.
I asked the Dean what was MIT’s position regarding open access, in the wake of Aaron Swartz suicide. The response was half satisfactory: although he started with the typical excuse for restrictive protectionist and monopolistic position (“research is expensive”), he ended up talking about OCW, MITx, and the need of support for open access.
In the evening we had a reception and dinner with guest speaker Ed Roberts, and Joi Ito, flying straight from Davos to tell us about the evolution of technology, and personal anecdotes.
The day ended, after a lot of sushi and a great dinner, with the required group photo.
Day 3 started with my winning the Twitter competition with this tweet:
Then we had classes by Matt Marx,William Aulet, Elaine Chen, and John McEleney.
Even during lunch (at room E52, 6th floor of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship – Tang Building) we are lectured. In this case by Scott Stern. Non stop from 7am until 8pm (or later, depending on how hard working your team is).
Snowing, cold, snow, cold…
Day 2 of the MIT-EDP program has been crazy. Breakfast at 7:00am, classes from 9:00am until 7:00pm, with a lunch break that was actually a lecture too, and two 15 minute breaks in which we were suppose to sign up for company visits, pick up material, etc…
But it was worth it: William Aulet, and Fiona Murray are excellent lecturers with obviously a lot of experience. It was fun, engaging (some interesting discussions in class) and also very informative.
Then, as if all that was not enough, we had to work on an 8 people team project (a made up company for which we have to start from scratch). And of course, I had to check work email, tweet (#MITEDP) and now blog about it, even though they have a “no open laptops” policy (really?, at MIT?, with an open wifi? c’mon!!).
My biggest complain is one that’s inherent to this institution, and to this country/system, and since I knew about it before I came, I can’t complain about it: the reductionist hyper-focus, the “exit/monetizing” mentality, the seeking of scarcity (even artificial or monopolistic one) or “protection”. Perhaps it creates (money) rich people, but the debate should go much further than that, yet after working out at the hotel gym, and team homework, it’s past midnight and I have to get some sleep. Zzzz
Today is my first day as a student of “the most important university in the world” (according to this article): MIT.
I am here to take the MIT Sloan Executive Education EDP (Entrepreneurship Development Program).
Faculty: William Aulet, Elaine Chen, Scott Keating, Paul Maeder, Matt Marx, John McEleney, Fiona Murray, Katie Rae, Edward Roberts, Antoinette Schoar, Scott Stern, Catherine Tucker
Getting up at 4 am and braving the flu outbreak in Boston and the cold weather including a frozen Charles River (not like it is less cold in NY anyway), I arrived from NY this morning in an early flight, and after checking in at the Marriot, I went to a luncheon at the Towne Stove and Spirits restaurant sponsored by Ken Morse.
The rest of the day has been registering, introductions, organization (with a DJ and nice catering service with sweets, open bar, vegetarian sushi and Middle Eastern food), competition, and team formation. People from 36 countries, fully packed week ahead. MIT, here we go!