Silicon Valley VC Bill Gurley: NYC needs more ‘iconic’ tech companies like Seattle

Bill Gurley. Photo via Wikipedia

Bill Gurley. Photo via Wikipedia

I’ve been writing a lot in recent months about the technology communities in Seattle and New York City, pinpointing the strengths and weaknesses of both tech hubs.

While New York has plenty of marketing buzz and financial might — not to mention Mayor Bloomberg — one of the things it lacks is an independent tech titan on the scale of a Microsoft, Amazon.com or Expedia.

Now, that theory is getting some support from venture capitalist Bill Gurley, a founding partner at Benchmark.

Gurley noted during remarks at the TechCrunch Disrupt NYC event this week that Seattle rose to prominence on the back of “four pillars” — Costco, Amazon, Microsoft and Starbucks. (I’d probably add Expedia, Boeing and, as I’ve columnized in the past, RealNetworks. See: Seattle’s unlikely hero? How RealNetworks sparked the region’s startup community).

In Gurley’s words, New York has great entrepreneurs and engineers but it needs “iconic” companies that aren’t afraid to swing for the fences.

“I think in general, in the venture business we have this problem – this kind of anti-IPO attitude – that I think prohibits companies from hitting the long ball, but it seems like maybe that’s even more acute here,” Gurley said.

As I noted above, New York has plenty going its way We just wrote about one up-and-comer today, Fab.com, which interestingly enough was founded by former Seattle entrepreneur Jason Goldberg.

Mayor Bloomberg’s efforts to transform the city into a technology hub are impressive, driven in part by the newly-established partnership with Cornell University. The amount of venture capital flowing to NYC also is helping to reshape the tech ecosystem.

But big companies — on the scale of an Amazon or Microsoft — provide their own fuel. And I’d argue they can do even more to fuel the ecosystem in Seattle.

But, as I’ve said many times before, I’d never trade the NYC tech scene for what’s going on right here in Seattle.

Previously on GeekWireHey, NYC: There’s a tech hub out here called Seattle