Building companies on top of tech infrastructure

The East Coast tech-scene is booming because we are going through a phase where experience design, clever new business models and distribution is becoming as important as the technology itself. The new East Coast growth companies are standing on the shoulders of the tech platforms that the West Coast has built over the past decade such as easy-to-use infrastructures like Amazon, discovery tools like Google and Facebook’s social graph. While companies like Esty, Groupon and Gilt Groupe are considered technology companies, they are really just smart, new innovative companies – built on top of technology. I imagine that New York’s access to talented designers, marketers and business developers will continue this trend.

Insightful quote from Henrik Werdelin, founder of Prehype, on the rush of innovation happening in consumer-focused web startups in New York.

Open Tab Wednesday

Lots of great reading material today… In Search of Serendipity

EVERY year, hordes of free spirits gather in the Nevada desert to “breathe art”, feel at one with the cosmos and sample the delights of Bianca’s Smut Shack. The Burning Man festival is radically anti-capitalist, with a strict ban on commerce and an emphasis on “self-reliance”. In short, it is not the sort of place you would associate with corporate schmoozing.

But you would be wrong, argue John Hagel, John Seely Brown and Lang Davison. Their new book, “The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things In Motion”, celebrates unconventional networkers such as Yossi Vardi, the 68-year-old “grandfather” of Israeli venture capital. Mr Vardi attends or hosts some 40 pow-wows a year, including Burning Man. (It’s about art, sex and drugs, he muses, but “I was only involved in art.”) According to “The Power of Pull”, Mr Vardi is a “super-node”, one of the best-connected people in the high-tech industry. More than that, he is a role model: he excels in “managing serendipity”. His avid conference-going, for example, is not just for fun. By mingling with so many strangers, he finds that he often bumps into people who give him valuable information.

Alexis Madrigal, the Atlantic: Market data firm spots the tracks of bizarre robot traders

Mysterious and possibly nefarious trading algorithms are operating every minute of every day in the nation’s stock exchanges.

What they do doesn’t show up in Google Finance, let alone in the pages of the Wall Street Journal. No one really knows how they operate or why. But over the past few weeks, Nanex, a data services firm has dragged some of the odder algorithm specimens into the light.

The trading bots visualized in the stock charts in this story aren’t doing anything that could be construed to help the market. Unknown entities for unknown reasons are sending thousands of orders a second through the electronic stock exchanges with no intent to actually trade. Often, the buy or sell prices that they are offering are so far from the market price that there’s no way they’d ever be part of a trade. The bots sketch out odd patterns with their orders, leaving patterns in the data that are largely invisible to market participants.

Tom Friedman, NYT: Broadway and the mosque

There are several reasons why I don’t object to a mosque being built near the World Trade Center site, but the key reason is my affection for Broadway show tunes.

Let me explain. A couple weeks ago, President Obama and his wife held “A Broadway Celebration: In Performance at the White House,” a concert in the East Room by some of Broadway’s biggest names, singing some of Broadway’s most famous hits. Because my wife is on the board of the public TV station that organized the evening, WETA, I got to attend, but all I could think of was: I wish the whole country were here.

Techonomy Conference Agenda

Technology + Economy. A new philosophy of progress. Techonomy is a new way to look at the economic power of innovation.

Ambitious agenda, huge names.