It Started With a Jolt: How New York Became a Tech Town

It Started With a Jolt: How New York Became a Tech Town

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After the financial crisis, graduates with computing skills shunned Wall Street for Silicon Valley. But that is no longer the case, as the finance industry is attracting young talent and seasoned technologists. Last year, for example, JPMorgan Chase lured Apoorv Saxena, a senior A.I. product manager at Google, to lead the bank’s A.I. product development, and Manuela Veloso from Carnegie Mellon University to head an A.I. research team.

For Ms. Samuel, 25, the job was appealing, but so was the locale. New York is where many of her friends have come to start their careers. And Ms. Samuel, who sang in a choir and an a cappella group in college, describes herself as a “big Broadway geek.”

For most recent graduates, the financial meltdown a decade ago is a distant memory. Today, it is not Wall Street but the big tech companies, like Facebook and Google, that are under fire. Their business models, based on gathering consumer data and targeted ads, have put them at the center of global concerns about privacy and false news.

That is a recruiting opportunity these days for R. Martin Chavez, a vice chairman of Goldman Sachs, who is also a computer scientist with a Ph.D. from Stanford. At recruiting events, his pitch is to say Google and Facebook have done “amazing things” and quickly add: “If you want to work on advertising, that’s where you should go. If you want to use math and software to solve hard problems for governments, corporations and other institutions, you should come to Goldman Sachs.”

As the New York tech sector grows, policymakers and executives hope to broaden its reach beyond Manhattan and the affluent portions of Brooklyn. Fred Wilson, an investor and venture capitalist in New York for more than three decades, saw a warning sign in the protests in Long Island City, Queens, over the news that Amazon had planned to move in.

“That’s partly from a sense that it’s not going to help them, and only drive up their costs,” Mr. Wilson said of the community. “To really be a success in New York, the benefits of the tech sector have to extend to every borough and every neighborhood.”

Deborah Estrin was the first non-Cornell computer scientist to join the Cornell Tech faculty in 2012. Ms. Estrin was at the University of California, Los Angeles, and not looking to move. But she read the Cornell Tech proposal, and its emphasis on applied technology resonated.

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