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Google and AOL team up to stop tech talent leaving NYC

Engadget Engadget 3/05/2016 Steve Dent
Engadget Expand NY - Day 3 © Provided by Engadget Engadget Expand NY - Day 3 © Provided by Engadget

New York City may be the Big Apple, but it plays second fiddle to Silicon Valley in the tech industry. That's why a number of companies located there including AOL, Bloomberg and, yes, California-based Google and Facebook have formed an advocate association called Tech:NYC. In a blog post, co-chairs Tim Armstrong, AOL's CEO and New York venture capitalist Fred Wilson say "we feel that the NYC tech community deserves a more formal organization to represent itself before local and state governments and the business community and civic sector."

The organization says its main goals are to get tech leaders more involved in the community, support the growth of the sector, and "advocate for policies that will attract tech talent, jobs and opportunity to NYC." As examples of where it may get involved, Armstrong and Wilson cite debates around the FBI versus Apple encryption base, NYC drone regulation, Uber labor laws and a recent New York crackdown on Airbnb. "We need to ensure that the voice of the NYC technology community is part of each of these vital communications," they say.

Tech:NYC Executive Director Julie Samuels (Craig Barritt via Getty Images for AOL)

Of course, not all city residents are thrilled with tech companies meddling in local politics. San Francisco residents increasingly complain of ridiculous housing prices, gentrification, tech companies trying to buy elections and endless lobbying by companies like Airbnb to defeat regulations. On the other hand, the tech industry brings dollars and jobs to cities, and a large, concentrated metropolis like New York should easily support a larger tech industry.

The group says it was inspired in part by, a similar tech advocacy organization in San Francisco. Tech:NYC will be co-chaired by Armstrong and Wilson and headed by Julie Samuels, a former Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) senior attorney (and "The Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents"). Founding members include AOL, Bloomberg, Google, Facebook, Snapchat, Airbnb, Uber and Kickstarter.


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