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Tennis at Grand Central

April 12th, 2009

Just when I thought I had found all the little features of Grand Central, walked the length of the pedestrian tunnels, heard countless references to the secret train line to the Waldorf, pointed out the one dirty roof tile above Michael Jordon’s bar showing the original state of the uncleaned ceiling, learnt to avoid the overpriced pickled herring in the Oyster Bar and found the best time of the week to get a seating area in the Campbel Apartments now I find that there had all this time been not one, but two tennis courts on the roof which were available to the public, at the unfortunate fee of $170 per hour mind you. But hurry the concession is about to close to make room for a staff locker room.

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New York, Travels

Bloomberg To Help Ex-Wall Street Execs Start New Firms

February 20th, 2009

Bloomberg has announced  a series of actions to assist ex-Wall Street executives start businesses:

  • Low-cost incubator office space (160 Varick Street, Beginning March 1, from $200 per person per month; 90 John Street that will open in April etc.)
  • A NYC angel investment fund: New York City will create several funds totaling between $9 million and $10 million to make angel investments of $20,000 to $250,000 each.
  • An annual international financial services business plan competition
  • A “VC Connect” online information portal and VC support services
  • FastTrac, a business training program to help emerging and existing entrepreneurs.
  • JumpStart NYC, a free job training and placement pilot program
  • Incentives for financial services companies locating in lower Manhattan
  • The city will work with established and developing exchanges like the New York Mercantile Exchange’s Green Exchange and SecondMarket (Carbon credits etc.)
  • An international recruitment campaign attracting commercial banks and insurance companies headquartered in China, India and other developing economies.
  • Financial Services Advisory Committee to be led by Deputy Mayor Lieber that will meet regularly through 2009 to maintain a dialogue between City Hall and the industry, as well as within the industry.
  • Regulatory advocacy: Bloomberg has tasked Deputy Mayor Lieber and EDC President Pinsky to work with the Financial Services Advisory Committee

More details here.

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New York , ,

Overly Social Technology?

January 1st, 2009

I’m glad to see a bit more variety in the ventures wanting to present at this month’s NY Tech. We still have over half the ventures being related to the social web which I think is representative of the software related startups in town at the moment. Of course most software ventures are more general. Everything from stock control to trading software and it would be good to see a broader range getting in front of the VCs who attend. I was particularly heartened to see TrialX wanting to present. They are “a healthcare information technology startup that is developing a groundbreaking technology to automatically match patients to clinical trials of new treatments.”

I care about this, not because there is anything wrong with social media, but because there are opportunities for technology startups which New York is uniquely positioned to take advantage of. This is not so much in the technologies which are created in relative business isolation purely from an idea but those which are created by lighting fires under elements of the major industries of New York: advertising, publishing, pharma, health and financial services. There are many ventures in these fields which require expertise or integration into business relationships and a New York venture is in a better position to realize success than a startup in the pure technology space of The Bay Area.

In many cases these ventures also have clearer real business models even if they can’t achieve the same number of eyeballs by next Monday. At the moment I would take a plan leading to cash rather than eyeballs every time.

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New York, Technology

The NY state projects wall street bonuses down by 43%

November 11th, 2008

NY governor, David Paterson, has release a web site showing the expected impact of the economic downturn. The budget deficit is projected to grow from $1.5B in 2008-09 to $12.5B 2009-10 which is truly staggering. Putting that in perspective though is the projected Wall Street bonus drop, a very important source of tax revenue, down from $48.2B in 2008 to $27.6B in 2009. It could easily be far below that as there are a reduced number of employees as well as drastically reduced bonuses per individual. Wall Street represents 20% of NY state tax revenue.

To give a wider perspective on the actual, rather than projected, economy the actual tax revenue from the top 20 corporate taxpayers is down 38% for the first two quarters of 2008.

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New York

Evolving Priorities

September 17th, 2008

With recent eddys in the world of the finance business, transitions have been even more on everybody’s mind than usual. I was recently entertaining my Sister, visiting from Vancouver. We had already done the main highlights on earlier trips so we took a trip around Manhattan on the Circle Line Ferry. There are a number of points were the architecture or the derelict water front shows the changing priorities of the city and the country over the last one hundred years. The prominent Governor’s Island with a strategic view of the harbour. The emphasis on immigration in the early years of the 20th Century with new arrivals passing the Statue of Liberty and landing at Ellis Island for processing and continuing on to the purpose built train terminus on the New Jersey Shore. The importance of shipping and the role of New York as a trading port now displaced to the container ports such as Newark by the increasing competition for space and the efficiencies of larger ships which operate under their own power and don’t require the support of the tides to dock in estuaries. The warehouses lining the shore in easy access of quays. The closure of manufacturing industries in the many Manhattan and Brooklyn factories now located in cheaper locations many in cheaper labour markets. All of these changes have brought with them wrenching pain for individuals. Abandonment of well honed skills. The break-up of friendships in work teams. Nearly all these transitions occurring at the last minute with organizations clinging valiantly to the familiar until they relented in their final gasps.

It is really the individuals who cling to the familiar though and for natural human reasons. A life has been built around the environment. A life that works in that environment and all these changes require rethinking of attitudes, beliefs expounded and the learning of unfamiliar disrespected view points. We shouldn’t necessary tell people to enjoy these changes as seems to be implied by the ‘Who moved my cheese’ school of management. We wouldn’t however want metal smelting to return to Manhattan or for sailors to be at the whim of wind in their sales but we should instead understand that the transition is painful and that sail boats did have charm and sailors their skills but that unfortunately we are compelled by our competition for capital and thirst for growth to stay ahead of change if we are to have influence in the world.

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Management, New York , ,

Dan Smith Will Teach You Guitar

September 7th, 2008
Dan Smith Will Teach You Guitar

Dan Smith Will Teach You Guitar

If you have ever lived in New York you will vaguely remember the posters of Dan Smith offering to teach you guitar. It is posted in every shop window across Manhattan. What it does to an individual to have such a public persona I can only guess at but over several variations of the poster he has presumably found that it is a message that works. It is quite noticeable that several others have tried to copy his general format for other services such as a local PC repair guy.

I always I assumed that he had some distributor posting the flyers up. There are several groups who post posters on temporary construction walls around town for record companies and film studios. However I would have been wrong. According to an article here by a David Kaufmann, who applied for lessons in order to get the back story, he actually manages to post all of the flyers himself. By doing so he is able to charge double what several reputable schools charge for guitar lessons and has people pre-book for a course.

The latest version of his poster with a milder demeanor and a seated position can be found on flickr here.

The prevalence of his marketing campaign has also let to a number of spoofs including for the film, The Love Guru, but an impressively long list was collected by tinagirlspy@flickr.com below. I’m very impressed that one person is able to get so much publicity and operate it all as a one man band.

Everything from songs….
www.bridgeandtunnelclub.com/music/boutique/da n_smith_will…

To interactive internet games…..
pixtrak.com/

To youtube videos…
www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBFV7HjHlnU
www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGwywSdq1M0

To countless imitators and/or parodies of his flyers-here are just a few…..
www.banterist.com/images/dan_edelweiss.jpg
bp1.blogger.com/_I2Yp45zmusc/RbDLiIUP4FI/AAAA AAAAADU/yb34…
bp3.blogger.com/_I2Yp45zmusc/RauSG4UP4DI/AAAA AAAAAC8/SwPL…
beersforbarcelona.blogspot.com/2007/01/dan-sm ith-will-tea…
thecrespo.blogspot.com/2005/11/new-york-fans- of-guitar-le…
bjornturoque.com/images/134579482501_3300.jpg

However, these ones are the only ones that are actually funny:
www.planetofthegrapes.com/pages/publicity.php
…but that’s because the guys in Nuclear O’Reilly ROCK!!!

Not to mention various blogs and articles – and two of the writers took a lesson with Dan just to write about it! Check it out:
www.nytimes.com/2005/04/17/nyregion/thecity/1 7guit.html
gridskipper.com/travel/new-york/dan-smith-has -taught-me-g…
www.reuters.com/article/sphereNews/idUSN28577 49420080228?…

Even John Mayer has gotten into the act…..
nymag.com/news/intelligencer/21352/

He now has a video up along the same lines as the flyer at: www.dansmithwillteachyouguitar.com

It took me some time to get to putting my own photo at the top of this blog and a suited photo on the corporate site I still find to be one of the scariest disembodied photos on the internet. It really does appear that every small consultancy shows their principal, management or leadership team but there are also some examples of people who maybe took it too far, as maybe Dan Smith has. The variety ranges from the tasteful to the salesy to the excessive. Or maybe they all work!

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Marketing, New York