CarriageTowneNews.com, Kingston, NH

Community News Network

July 1, 2013

Did this man really just become New York City's first tech billionaire?

When you think of New York City's burgeoning startup scene, you might think of trendy social-media companies like Foursquare or Tumblr or e-commerce sites like Gilt Groupe. You might think of the Brooklyn-based startups that are helping to forge the new DIY economy, like MakerBot, Etsy and Kickstarter. A couple of those startups - Tumblr and MakerBot - recently sold for huge sums. A couple of others could be in line for substantial IPOs.

But none, according to Bloomberg News, can lay claim to producing Silicon Alley's first billionaire. That honor, Bloomberg asserts, went last week to a far less flashy name: Shutterstock, the stock-photography site whose licensed images adorn millions of ads and hastily composed blog posts across the Web, including some on Slate. The company went public in October and has seen its shares soar. Late last week, founder Jonathan Oringer's 55-percent stake in the company was valued at $1 billion. Citing RBC Capital Markets analyst Andre Sequin, Bloomberg declared Oringer "the first billionaire to be created in Silicon Alley."

If true, that's a significant landmark in the growth of a scene that is fast surpassing Boston as the nation's second-largest tech hub. But how do we know Oringer is really the first?

I called Sequin to find out. He told me he was a little surprised that Bloomberg had him making the claim quite so definitively. Sequin clarified to me that Oringer is the scene's first billionaire founder "as far as I know." He added that he "couldn't come up with anyone else" who meets the criteria: a New York tech or new-media startup founder who owns enough of a company that his own share translates to $1 billion or more upon exit (or on the stock market, if the company has gone public).

So while Tumblr recently sold to Yahoo for $1.1 billion - heralded as the city's biggest-ever venture-backed startup exit - Tumblr founder David Karp doesn't qualify, because his stake in the company was only about 25 percent. Not that Karp isn't plenty rich. But he's not a billionaire, even on paper.

Any other candidates? Business Insider's Nicholas Carlson, who knows the scene better than most, suggested via Twitter a name that is probably familiar to the Bloomberg reporters who wrote the piece: Michael Bloomberg himself. "Would you consider him tech?" Bloomberg's Sarah Frier asked. "Yes," said Carlson. "He built a private Internet." Fair enough - tech is an amorphous category in any case.

But as Carlson conceded, Bloomberg's success story dates to an earlier era, before local tech publications sprouted up in the mid-'90s to coin the term and cover the local scene. On the other hand, some argue that the term Silicon Alley is itself outdated. Among them is venture capitalist Fred Wilson - who, come to think of it, might have a claim to the title himself, having achieved a reported net worth of over $1 billion by investing in some of the city's biggest success stories. But he's a venture capitalist, not a founder, so it seems reasonable to exclude him and his ilk from the running.

I checked with Anand Sanwal, who tracks the venture-capital market, and he said he couldn't confirm Sequin's inference because he doesn't track founder ownership. But he added that it "seems to be right." Sanwal's firm, CB Insights, released a list recently of New York's largest venture-backed exits, with Tumblr leading the way. He noted that the list doesn't include Shutterstock, because Oringer didn't take venture-capital money - which helps explain why he still has so much control of the company.

Until someone proves otherwise, then, Oringer's claim to the title can probably stand. But how much longer will he remain alone in the billionaire's club? Despite the wild growth of the city's startup scene in recent years, it may be longer than you think: Crain's' list of the city's top tech IPO candidates is headlined by Gilt, Fab, and AppNexus, none of which has been valued above $750 million. That said, the New York Tech Meetup's list of "made in NY" startups boasts a dizzying 592 companies and counting: Viggle, Vimeo, Vindico, Visual Revenue, Vivastream, Vixely, Voxel, and Voxy, to name just a few of the V's. Who knows if there's a Google or Facebook among them - but it's a good bet that there's at least another Shutterstock.

               

        

1
Text Only
Community News Network

New England News
Obituaries
  • David L. Drowne, 53

    Ellenton, FL — David Drowne, formerly of Newburyport, Mass., passed away Tuesday, July 22, 2014, and Tidewell Hospice in Ellenton, Fla.

    Continued ...
    The Carriage Towne News Thu, August 21
    2 hours 1 Photo
  • Kathleen M. Wright

    Epping, NH — Kathleen M. Wright, 73, of Epping, formerly of Kingston, died suddenly on Monday, Aug. 11, 2014, at the Exeter Hospital with her beloved husband, Clem and her devoted daughters, Chris and Candie, at her bedside.

    Continued ...
    The Carriage Towne News Thu, August 21
    2 hours 1 Photo
  • Alan J. Walker, 68

    Kingston, N.H. — Mr. Alan James Walker, 68, passed away peacefully at his home on July 8, 2014, after a long, brave battle with cancer.

    Continued ...
    21 days
  • James Reese

    Raymond, NH — James Edwin Reese, 74, passed away on Wednesday, July 16, 2014, surrounded by his family and friends at his home in Raymond, N.H. He was the son of John and Ruth Reese, born on Oct. 29, 1939 in Edensburg, Pa. James graduated from Central Cambria High School in Pennsylvania before proudly serving in the U.S. Army as a food inspector. His military service was followed by 31 years with the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a meat inspector. Mr. Reese was an avid outdoorsman and spent much of his time fishing, camping and hiking in the White Mountains. He became involved in the Boy Scouts and enjoyed passing on his vast knowledge of the wilderness to others. Throughout his retirement years he enjoyed woodworking, raising rabbits and working in his garden.

    Continued ...
    21 days 1 Photo
  • Velma J. Reid

    South Hampton, NH — Velma J. Reid, 80, died peacefully on July 17, 2014 at Exeter Hospital, surrounded by family. She was born in Haverhill, Mass. on June 8, 1934, the daughter of the late George C.W. and Alta I. (Kimball) Haynes. A graduate of Haverhill High School, Velma worked at Western Electric until she had children. For years, she was a devoted “stay-at-home” mom who raised her three children in a loving, nurturing environment. She later worked various manufacturing jobs until her retirement. After retiring, she volunteered her time at various organizations and was very involved at the East Kingston Community United Methodist Church as a member of the women’s guild, assisting with the holiday fair, and helping out wherever she could. She had a passion for animals, and would donate money, food, and blankets to the NH SPCA. She loved to sew and made a personalized quilt for every member of her family. She was also a member of the “Ugly Quilts” group, which made blankets and sleeping bags for the homeless using recycled fabric. She is survived by her husband, Clyde Reid of South Hampton, N.H.; daughter, Pam Eaton of Danville, N.H.; son and daughter-in-law, Douglas and Kim Reid of Raymond, N.H.; daughter, Shirley Reid of South Hampton, N.H.; two sisters, Gwen Stuart of Haverhill, and Norma Taplin of Dracut; four grandchildren, Cheryl and Marc Welch, and Kristen and Joshua Reid, and several nieces and nephews.

    Continued ...
    21 days 1 Photo

Stocks