Those of you wondering what the future holds for the Internet are bound to find the answer at Internet Week New York.
Now in its fifth year, the festival, which starts today and runs through May 21, features over 250 events geared towards helping New Yorkers connect with the city’s thriving tech community.
“It’s a week where the city’s Internet industry comes out from behind their screens,” festival founder David-Michel Davies told the Daily News. “It’s a chance to see the Internet come to life and experience it in real time.”
New York City is now battling Silicon Valley as the country’s hottest tech hub, but you don’t have to be Mark Zuckerberg to get in the game.
“Using technology to make your life better appeals to everyone,” Davies said.
The diverse catalogue of events at Internet Week includes panel discussions and parties featuring companies in the arts, music, travel, media, fashion, advertising, business, and online dating, as well as opportunities for startups to pitch investors and meet some big fish in the New York tech pond.
Attendees will hear from speakers on the frontlines of New York tech, like 26-year-old Tumblr founder David Karp and BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti, as well as business mavens like Billy Beane, the Oakland Athletics general manager played by Brad Pitt in the Oscar-nominated “Moneyball.”
One of the highlights is sure to be Walkabout NYC, which opens the doors to some of New York’s best-known tech companies so the average person can see what it’s like behind the scenes. Facebook, Gawker and Tumblr are among the 54 companies participating in an open house held Friday, May 18, as well as trendy online eyewear brand Warby Parker, luxury e-commerce site Gilt Groupe, and popular digital fashion hub Refinery29.
“It’s an opportunity for technology companies to invite in curious New Yorkers who want to learn what’s really going on,” said Naama Bloom, head of communications for Harvest, the New York tech company behind Walkabout.
“The technology community is one more part of what makes New York great and it’s a way to see that firsthand,” Bloom said. “It’s really not a chance you get every day.”
The event is free and open to the public — all you have to do is R.S.V.P. in advance for the companies you want to tour.
“There are opportunities for really intimate, in-depth conversations with CEOs and technology officers about how they think,” Bloom said of the event, adding that the collaborative spirit of the city’s tech community means wannabe entrepreneurs stand to really benefit from these meetings.
“There’s a real desire by the people who work in technology in New York to help each other along,” she said.
It’s that sense of community that makes the tech industry here unique, and Davies sees Internet Week as a kind of embodiment of the city’s spirit.
“New York is an exceptionally entrepreneurial city,” Davies said. “People come here for opportunity, and it’s been like that since the city was founded.”