Moneywise Silicon Valley has it all over the Big Apple. But as far as skilled workers goes, New York trumps the left coast. This news may come as a suprise. As someone who has worked in or around Silicon Alley since 1997, New York has never had this honor. Apparently it is because the various surveys never counted the embeds — those who work as web designers and system analysts in companies that may not be completely tech oriented. From The New York Times:

 “The report, ‘Buried Treasure: New York’s Hidden Technology Sector,’ does something that research institutes and magazines that rate cities rarely do: Along with counting heads at innovation leaders with outposts in Manhattan, like Google, Microsoft and I.B.M., it counts the high-tech workers it says are “embedded” in other sectors, like research and development departments at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Tiffany & Company.

“Do the math that way, and the New York Metropolitan Statistical Area, which covers southern New York and northern New Jersey, has nearly 620,000 technology workers, two and a half times as many as Silicon Valley and nearly twice as many as Boston.”

 Anyone else love that “60 Minutes” piece on Geeks last night?


Bits & Bytes

September 6, 2007

[The YouTube home page for singer Marie Digby.]

 >”Ms. Digby’s MySpace and YouTube pages don’t mention Hollywood Records. Until last week, a box marked ‘Type of Label’ on her MySpace Music page said, ‘None.’ After inquiries from The Wall Street Journal, the entry was changed to ‘Major,’ though the label still is not named. The artist and her label say there’s nothing untoward about the campaign. In interviews, Ms. Digby and executives at the company describe her three-month string of successes as part of a lengthy process of laying the groundwork for the upcoming release of her debut album.” (WSJ)

Ron Mwangaguhunga

Newsweek On Theresa Duncan

September 6, 2007

 DuncanThe tragic death of Theresa Duncan, who was one of the brightest Alley artists is covered in Newsweek: “On July 10, Jeremy Blake returned to his downtown Manhattan apartment from a day of meetings with plans to relax with a bottle of Scotch. The 35-year-old digital artist, whose work is already enshrined in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, lived in a converted Episcopal church rectory with his girlfriend of a dozen years, Theresa Duncan, a 40-year-old writer and former computer-game designer. Before going upstairs to meet her, he stopped by the office of the church’s assistant pastor, Father Frank Morales, and invited him up later for a drink. But when Blake got to his place and opened the door, he found Duncan lying dead in their bedroom, with a bottle of bourbon, Tylenol PM pills and a suicide note next to her body.” Wit of the StaircaseRon Mwangaguhunga 

Bits & Bytes

September 5, 2007

Fashion Week launches Tuesday in New York

>”Many traditional media companies are growing their own digital presences, either by employing a Web-only staff, inviting a well-known blogger to cover the shows on their sites, or getting a notable to blog for them. Fabiola Beracasa will contribute to Elle’s and New York magazine’s media coverage, and both Web sites will have models blogging — Selita Ebanks at New York, and Maggie Rizer at Elle. But not all doors are open. ‘Marc, Ralph, Calvin — anyone who can be referred to by his first name is off limits to bloggers,’ said Julie Fredrickson, founder of the network of blogs called Coutorture.” (WWD)

 >”At last night’s NYC Tech Meet-Up, the prevailing theme was that old Web 2.0 saw “You make the content, we make the revenue.’ The event at Cooper Union drew an estimated 450 of New York’s technorati– most from startups, as a show of hands revealed. Ladies and gentlemen, this is your Silicon Alley … There was Henry Blodget imploring potential ‘contributors’ to write for his new NYC-focused tech website, Silicon Alley Insider ; a Gawker Media rep discussing how Gawker plans to capitalize on its rabid hoard of commenters; and the dude, who spoke of leveraging external blogs to create custom dating portals. The pitches sounded a common theme: the desperate land-grab for free content against which to run advertising.” (Portfolio)

>”Former AOL Chief Executive Jonathan F. Miller and former Fox Interactive Media President Ross Levinsohn have joined together to start an Internet company, according to people close to the situation. General Atlantic LLC, a private-equity firm, has committed to back Messrs. Levinsohn and Miller’s investments in Internet start-ups, these people say. General Atlantic in a statement said the two men had agreed to become advisers to the private-equity firm and declined further comment. The new entity, called Velocity Investment Group, is already actively scouting for acquisitions and has signed letters of intent with a few consumer-oriented Internet companies.” (WSJ via Iwantmedia)

Ron Mwangaguhunga


They don’t just have The French Riviera. Google CEO Eric Shmidt has fit his girfriend Marcy Simon — formerly of media consulting firm WCTV — into Google’s New York offices. From those intrepid Page Sixxies:

“DESPITE the cramped environment in Google’s new West Chelsea offices, company CEO Eric Schmidt somehow found room to squeeze in one more – his close, personal pal Marcy Simon. reports that Simon, whose friendship with Schmidt has kept eyebrows raised in Silicon Valley for a while now, ‘definitely has an office there. What her duties at Google are is unclear.; A Google flack told us, ‘We don’t comment on individual consultants or the work they do for us.'”

Ron Mwangaguhunga


Did you read the Rick Rubin cover story of the New York Times Magazine? It makes one wonder how the music industry as it is presently constituted ever was as cool as our parents actually said it was. Even Hollywood, sometimes, seems to cower like a pimpled geek before the all-encompassing coolness of the music industry, whose disasterous business model had Courtney Love howling  aloud into the night at the turn of the milennium: How could she be broke (Exaggerated cough suggesting feigned detachment)!

Instead of flowing and vibing with the Napster business model — which was, admittedly, flawed — this soi-dissant Olympus of Cool-and-Hip took a thumoeideutic sledge-hammer by the name of Hillary Rosen to the digital music revolution.

 And that solved nothing.

Did the RIAA really think that penniless, digitally-literate and smart college students — angel-headed hipsters — could afford to spend $20 on a CD? Or, worse, $100 on 5? Music is the soundtrack of the college experience; nothing is going to stop a kid from getting his music-on. Come on now. The “cool” music industry should have caught that flavor. Did the ultra-litigious RIAA — suing a 12-year old? How “assy” was that? — truly think that students wouldn’t find some way around the outrageousness of the pricing schema. Why pay $20 for a CD where the listener only wants 3 songs.

 And so here we are. A digital music universe. This time, Steve Jobs — not Sean Fanningtrumped the music industry. And so the industry is looking to Rick Rubin (Always more of a creative type than a suit), the coolest kid in the class, to save their hash. It’s probably too late. From the NYTimes:

“‘The most important thing we have to do now is get the art right. So many of the decisions at these companies have not been about the music. They sign artists for the wrong reasons — because they think somebody else wants them or if they need to have a record out by a certain date. That old way of doing things is obsolete, but luckily, fear is making the record companies less arrogant. They’re more open to ideas. So, what’s important now is to find music that’s timeless. I still believe that if an artist gains the belief of the listener, then anything is possible.'”

With all due respect to Rick Rubin, it is not the Art, but the business model that needs tending. A college student would not pay $20 for a CD so that 11 A-&-R guys could smoke hydroponic and maybe check out a few acts and “get-back-to-you-later,” bro. The old way of running things — and it sounded like a blast — is over. In the future, musicians are going to have to pick themselves up by their own bootstraps and manage their own careers — Art to Business; soup to nuts — a la music revolutionaries Ani DiFranco and Prince. Or else, if they are too lazy, hire a middleman. But a middleman is not a record label. No one needs a record label — or Rolling Stone Magazine, for that matter — in a digital universe where the listeners and the influential music blogs are the gatekeepers.

But it is never going back to the way it was.

Ron Mwangaguhunga

AmericanLife TV Joins VOD

September 4, 2007

The AmericanLife TV Network, which runs Baby Boomer-nostalgia-ish programming — sometimes, like in the case of “Hill Street Blues” and “St. Elsewhere,” quite good stuff — is joining VOD. The programming is not that bad — consider: “A Journey to Darfur” with George Clooney — considering their obviously limited budget. From the press release:

“AmericanLife TV Network is joining the video-on-demand party, offering up 20 hours of programming per month to any of TVN Entertainment’s more than 100 cable affiliates free of charge. The service launches Labor Day (Sept. 3).

 “Programs on the nostalgia-centric digital network’s new on-demand service fall into four categories:

“’Classic TV’ will feature such shows as Combat!, The Color Honeymooners and Mission: Impossible (in January).

“’Caring and Sharing TV’ features American Family, The Dr. Bob Show and specials such as A Journey to Darfur with George Clooney.

“’Cooking and Living TV’ features programming including This Food, That Wine, Embassy Chefs and Fixing Dinner.

“And ‘Lifestyle TV’ features Alive and Well, Flea Market Mania and Save Our House, Save Our Family.

“A quarter of the programming will be refreshed each week.”