Mayoral Candidates Weigh in on Tech Expansion: Jack Hidary
Jotham Sederstrom July 26, 2013, 8 a.m.
Jack Hidary is an Internet entrepreneur best known for his work as CEO of Dice.com, a website that connects technology and engineering professionals. Mr. Hidary announced his decision to run for mayor on July 17, less than four months before the November 5 election. He will be running as an independent and hopes to bring high-speed bandwidth to the five boroughs. Mr. Hidary spoke with Wired City about his campaign and broadband technology.
Wired City: Why run on a technology platform?
Mr. Hidary: I’m running on a jobs platform, and I will push opportunity out to all boroughs. The startup hot spots located in Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn are on fire. Their energy has transformed neighborhoods and they are attracting many talented people to our city. A major study has shown that every high-tech job creates 4.3 jobs in other, non-tech sectors. But a global city cannot succeed on high tech alone. I want to extend incubators to non-tech industries.
The incubator and business-development program at East Harlem’s Hot Bread Kitchen, which gives new entrepreneurs access to a licensed commercial kitchen, is one great model. I’ll make sure there are many more, across all industries. All New Yorkers who want to kick off their own startup should be able to, with easy access to small-business services in all five boroughs.
Why is it important to bring tech companies to NYC?
Tech companies bring with them great jobs, tech and non-tech jobs, for our economy. Google alone now employs around 3,000 people in its New York office. Companies from Silicon Valley and around the world want access to New York’s markets in advertising, financial services and the creative industries. My years in the tech community and my experience as a successful tech entrepreneur give me the unique ability to attract technology companies and investment. Technology jobs are one piece of the puzzle, and I will foster job creation in all industries.
How do you feel about Mayor Bloomberg’s efforts to make NYC the tech center of the world?
Mayor Bloomberg has catalyzed a great surge in startup activity in New York. Under his leadership, tech companies in New York overtook venture capital investment [from] Boston companies. We’re now only second to Silicon Valley in total investment, and our share is growing much faster. But this activity is too concentrated in Manhattan and a few neighborhoods in Brooklyn. There are only a few tech startups in Queens, for example. I grew up in Brooklyn on Ocean Parkway, where we have many individuals with entrepreneurial ideas but none of the services that will help them quickly realize their vision. As mayor, I will bring small-business services to all parts of our city.
What can be done to improve our city’s infrastructure?
Streetlights and traffic lights in New York currently have no reliable backup systems, and we saw the tragic consequences during Hurricane Sandy. Other cities are backing up their lighting and traffic infrastructure with solar and battery power. These devices pay for themselves very quickly and, more importantly, provide crucial support when the electric grid is stressed or not functioning. Additionally, New York should provide rebates for installing backup battery power units in buildings and homes. California already does so. These investments will prevent elderly residents from being stuck on high floors during the next natural disaster and will provide safety to neighborhoods with street lighting, as well as crucial backup for hospitals.
How will your technology background be relevant to you as mayor?
I’m an entrepreneur with a track record of creating jobs and connecting people across the U.S. with employment. At EarthWeb, we bought and grew Dice.com, which has connected Americans with jobs in [the] tech and engineering sectors and is the leader in its space. I am uniquely qualified among all the other candidates to bring technology jobs and investment to New York City.
Is there a specific area (schools, government buildings, etc.) in NYC that must be wired better?
We should invest in high-speed bandwidth in all five boroughs. Wiring all of the city—businesses, schools and neighborhoods—for better broadband will increase productivity, spur commerce and increase quality of life.