A Visitor’s Guide to Silicon Alley

TriplePoint New York is often asked about life in Silicon Alley. We get questions such as “what companies do we need to meet, what co-working spaces do we need to check out,” and more from our colleagues and contemporaries on the West Coast.

While there are numerous growing technology companies with offices in the “Alley,” including Tumblr, Bonobos, AppNexus, Birchbox, Boxee, Learnvest and more, there are also many favorite communal spots of the NY tech community. At these staples, you’ll find everyone from founders to VC’s to hackers plotting their next product feature or closing a funding round.

Here are some of the most popular destinations, complete with insider tips from TriplePoint and various tech influencers.


Thanks to @Mashable, @Birchbox, @FredWilson, @Naveen, @NihalMehta, @Benpopper, @Digital_sweet, @CBM, @LonisTweets, @Daveambrose, @Bonobos and all the tipsters within. Here’s our full list:

Ace Hotel Lobby (29th and Broadway):Get there early if you need seating for more than yourself. Make sure to grab coffee from Stumptown and if you have time, have breakfast at the Breslin.

Shake Shack (23rd and Madison): SF has In-N-Out, but we’ve got the shack. Give me a Double Shack Burger with a black & white shake in Madison Square Park over In-N-Out’s loud fast food environment any day of the week.

Birreria, at Eataly (23rd and Fifth): Situated atop Eataly with a retractable roof, Birreria is enjoyable year-round, but unbeatable when the weather is nice. The Shiitake mushrooms is one of the best dishes in the entire city.

General Assembly (20th and Broadway): What sets GA apart from the rest of the coworking spaces is its robust education program. If you don’t take a class, you’re missing out.

Tarallucci E Vino (18th and Fifth): Tucked around the corner from General Assembly, this Italian cafe is a regular on the tech breakfast and lunch circuit. You can’t go wrong with a croissant or the custard cream doughnut.

Grey Dog Cafe (11th and University): South of Union Square and only a few steps away from Dogpatch Labs, Grey Dog is often packed with various techies. Get the “Grey Dog’s Breakfast,” and thank me later.

Clap Twice for Pizza: Gesture Recognition Makes this Dream a Reality

It’s no secret that, when it comes to home entertainment, we’re in the midst of a distribution revolution. Content once tied to broadcast airwaves is now being ravenously consumed on the internet via computers, video game consoles and set top devices.

TriplePoint has the privilege of working with some of these new media startups. PlayOn (which recently made the jump to iPhone; CNET link) streams Hulu and other web video onto PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, without the need for a costly Hulu+ account. For those without a video game console, Softkinetic is providing a Microsoft Kinect-like experience to a massive install base via their set top box gesture recognition system.

With two cameras and a powerful microphone, Kinect knows who’s in front of the TV. For games like Dance Central, the technology will track all the poppin’ and lockin’ you can throw at it. But as an entertainment hub, a Kinect-enabled Xbox 360 will change the way that marketers convey their messages. Advertising is the backbone of media, providing the funding for programming and keeping content free for the viewer.

Softkinetic and Microsoft face a major challenge with these user-recognizing innovations. The product must find the right combination of allure, cost and ease-of-use, or at least hit two sides of this triangle. Kinect is rumored to cost $150, putting it well above the $99 impulse-buy sweet spot and closer to the price of a new game console. Softkinetic, on the other hand, will have less features but will also enjoy wider adoption, since the system will piggyback onto cable boxes and not require additional equipment.

As these devices become a fixture of the entertainment centers in dens and rec rooms around the world, ultra-targeted advertising will be commonplace. In order to frame this in a positive light, marketers will highlight the family-friendly aspects of these targeted ad systems.  For instance, “No R-rated movie previews if children are detected,” or, similarly “no beer commercials until the registered account holder turns 21.”  Of course, there are many aspects of these targeted ads that appeal to advertisers, too.  For instance, gender-specific commercials can now be tied to the actual gender of the viewers, rather than the network making educated guesses about the viewing audience based on the channel, program and time of day

Interactive ads are not far behind. Many of today’s preroll web video ads ask if you’d prefer to interrupt your show with 3 traditional thirty-second commercials, or watch a 90 second long-form ad before the show begins.  By giving the viewer a choice, marketers engage the audience and have a better change of holding their attention.

With mics and 3D cameras in place, these ads will evolve into mini-games – how many on-screen Pepsi bubbles can you “pop” by waving your hands, before the time runs out? Sponsored gameshow-style quizzes are also possible, since the systems can detect multiple voices in the room. First one to finish this jingle gets 10 points on their gamerscore!  “Plop plop, fizz fizz…”

Social media integration is already built into modern game consoles.  In the future, before the new Top Chef episode streams, you’ll be prompted to invite other online friends who ‘like’ that show on Facebook to join you and watch together, virtually.

During the show, ads will feature music by artists from your Last.fm account that you’ve “favorited.” Local advertisements will pinpoint your self-identified exact location and give you offers that are relevant to your tastes.  For instance, the Italian restaurant below your apartment is offering double-pepperoni for the price of cheese, and they’ll be open for another 45 minutes.  Since your credit card is on file with your Xbox Live or PSN account, you can literally say the word and have hot pizza at your door before Padma calls the chef’testants to the judge’s table. Are you watching solo, or did you invite the whole gang over? Accordingly, you’ll get promotions ranging from personal-pan pizza to the ultra-jumbo feast.

There’s a great deal riding on the success of these gesture- and user- recognition systems.  Their main strength is in eliminating the “input middleman,” giving users greater control over their own entertainment. They also give marketers new ways to reach consumers. While this new technology is exciting on many levels, it will also present unseen obstacles and take years before adoption is truly mainstream. Only time will tell if the universal remote can survive this Minority Report future.

Join the Wave: Google’s Not-So-Secret Society


I recently received an invitation to the most exclusive group in town; a Cool Kids Club, if you will. The fact that this tight-knit group is comprised of 100,000+ cool kids is of no concern to me. The way I see it, the world is now separated into two groups of people: those who been invited to preview Google Wave and those who haven’t.  Whether or not you have been chosen, I invite you to read this enlightening overview of the platform.

Google Wave is a brand new, real-time communication service that three Australian masterminds created, all of whom were previously involved in Google Maps. It is a conglomerate of different aspects of email, instant messaging, and wikis. Web chat, social networking, and project management are also featured in the platform. These functions all work together to build what Mashable Online has dubbed “one elegant, in-browser communication client.”

A wave is a threaded conversation that can include one other user, a group of users, or even robots.  A robot is an automated participant inside a specific wave that can interact with waves and converse with other users. These robots can offer information from external sources, such as Twitter, and are considered extensions.

Extensions are mini-applications that function within a wave.  Along with robots, gadgets also exist as primary extensions. Gadgets are like Facebook apps and many of them are built on Google’s OpenSocial platform.  Google Wave gives developers the opportunity to build applications and these extensions within waves, like with a Facebook application or an iGoogle gadget. These can consist of anything from bots to intricate, real-time games. To encourage innovation among developers, the Google Wave code is open source.

Another attractive function that Google Wave offers is real-time chat.  This chat allows the user, most times, to see what another member of the wave is typing, character-by-character. Google Wave also has a playback function so you can review any piece of the wave’s conversation.  Since all conversations within a platform are shared, any user within a developing conversation can edit information or add commentary. This feature is especially helpful in keeping one’s waves focused and concise. Initial reactions to real-time chatting can result in messages like, “OMG!!! I can see you typing!!!!! This is so cool!” The wiki functionality allows you to tidy up this enthusiasm.

As if it’s not enough that Google Wave is good-looking and popular, it also knows natural language. It can autocorrect your spelling and knows the difference between similar words, such as “red” and “read.” Google Wave can also auto-translate at the drop of a hat.

To those of you longingly watching this dance party from outside the discotech, don’t lose hope.  Google Wave awards those who obsessively update their waves with a slew of invites to extend to friends.  So, ask around and find that one friend who will welcome you in to the clique.

Marketing High-Tech Products to Mainstream Consumers

How does a new high-tech product become popular and translate from a fad into a lasting trend? It is challenging for high-tech products to achieve widespread success among mainstream consumers. People are notoriously resistant to change and it takes time and a lot of coaxing to covert a new high-tech product used by gadget-obsessed geeks into a product that the masses are comfortable with. Geoffrey Moore, author of BusinessWeek bestseller, Crossing the Chasm, explains that in order for a cutting-edge product to become more than just a passing fad, it must cross the gap, or “chasm” between an early market and mainstream market. If done successfully, a high-tech product can make this transition to achieve great success and explosive sales. If the product fails to reach mainstream success, however, it may fade into obscurity.

Moore argues that a high-tech product shouldn’t be marketed the same way to tech enthusiasts and early adopters as it should be to the mainstream consumer. The early market for a high-tech product consists of people who love to be the first on their block to have a new gadget and who appreciate the benefits of new technology. Think of that friend, neighbor or family member who loves to show off new gadgets that nobody has heard of yet. They don’t mind dealing with a few bugs or inconveniences if they see a chance to get ahead of the competition with a new high-tech product and, often times, they are willing to pay a hefty price tag. Marketing messages that focus on the product and that pinpoint a technological advantage resonate with this early audience. However, the mainstream market needs a bit more convincing. These consumers are more practical and are hesitant to empty their wallets. For the mainstream market, company credibility is important and word-of-mouth recommendations are powerful.

One product that everyone is watching closely and which is emerging into the mainstream market is the Kindle. Up until now, electronic books have failed to “cross the chasm” to become a must-have item for mainstream consumers. Two weeks ago on the TriplePoint blog, Julia Roether explored the rise in Kindle 2’s popularity and noted that while it may seem like an “overnight sensation,” the Kindle has been around for over two years. Furthermore, Brad Stone, who covers consumer technology at the New York Times, pointed out that electronic book devices have been around for a decade but none have really taken off among consumers.

The Kindle seems to be breaking through as an electronic book that is reaching mainstream market success. The Kindle 2 came out with several improvements to the product but mainstream consumers are often less swayed by the promise of new product features. Specifically, consumers in the mainstream market, according to Moore, tend to value market leadership and wait for a high-tech product to prove they are better than the competition before buying. Unlike early market consumers who want to be the first on the block to have a new product, mainstream consumers wait for references from people they trust. The Kindle received recognition from Oprah, one of the most widely respected and trusted references around, which no doubt helped convince hesitant book-lovers to get on board. Furthermore, with sales skyrocketing this holiday season, the Kindle seems to be crossing the chasm.

However, time will tell how the Kindle evolves and if electronic books will become a must-have gadget. It seems that there are still adjustments to be made and more convincing of consumers before the product really takes hold. Moore reminds us that 1/3 of consumers are classified as “conservatives” who are the most resistant to change and who wait for the product to become a standard before adopting new technology. These people are the last to buy new technology, after tech enthusiasts, early adopters and the early majority of mainstream consumers. While the Kindle is becoming more popular, it still must establish credibility among users before capturing this piece of the market.

Spotlight with Bloomberg TV’s Tech Reporter

Michele Steele - Bloomberg TVMichele Steele is a Chicago-native who now lives in New York City and works as a reporter for Bloomberg TV. A graduate of Columbia Journalism School, Michele quickly made a name for herself as a reporter on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, covering stocks and the economy for over 100 local stations which broadcast Bloomberg business reports. Now focusing primarily on the business of media, tech and entertainment, you can see Michele on Bloomberg Television segments worldwide.

TP: Tell us a bit about your position at Bloomberg. What are your areas of coverage?

Continue reading Spotlight with Bloomberg TV’s Tech Reporter

Social Plays in Networked Gaming

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of presenting at the monthly Social Media Expedition Memphis breakfast meetup. It was a great chance to take a look at “social gaming” from a different perspective, as many attendees knew little about the video games industry, but they were all social media enthusiasts.

The result? An exploration of the connection between video games, technology and social media, and what it all means for marketers. For brevity, I’ll just say that the relationship between gaming and social media is, by all means, symbiotic. For a more thorough explanation, check out the full presentation on SlideShare below.

In such an emerging space, one can never have all the right answers. Let me know what you think – insight, opinions, questions… All feedback is more than welcome!

Social Plays In Networked Gaming by Kate Hancock

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