History of NYC's internet community by Fred Wilson.

Just don't call it "Silicon Alley," he says: Venture capitalist Fred Wilson takes a trip down memory lane in a sweeping keynote he gave at Web 2.0 this week. Video: The New York Internet Industry, 1995 to 2008, From Nascent to Ascendant.

Essential viewing. Seriously. If you use the internet, you need to see this. Know your history. Wherever you are on the web, this is part of your history.

I just spent the weekend clearing out a garage full of old belongings and personal documents, including box after box after beat-up box of Silicon Alley Reporter magazines, and brochures for NYC tech conferences I produced with Jason Calacanis. Watching Fred's presentation and leafing through those dusty old glossies makes me feel nostalgic for all the hope, ambition, and excitement we all felt back then. I'm proud to have been there for some of it. Even the crazy, fucked-up parts that ended badly, which Fred chronicles beautifully here. (thanks, Josh "MC Luvvy" Harris!)


  1. I may watch this later, but I have a comment now: is there any way for the episode length to show up in the player area, or at least in the article? I realize that I can find the episode length under the “guide” icon, but when I’m trying to decide whether I have time to view it now, or room to download it to my portable device, it would be more useful to have that information visible right there.

    I’d love to hear other’s comments on how they use this – one thing that you don’t often hear of in web design (although surely it exists?) is ‘usability testing’. I used to know people in the field, they would tell of doing lots and lots of iterations to try to get menus and whatever right for the way people used their software – but do people do that with things like video players on the web?

  2. Having lived in NYC from 90 to 95 before going west to mine a little web 1.0 gold, I was surprised at how dull and dry this talk was. For all he said about how remarkable it is that ITP was part of an art school and how the NYC net scene is so much more integrated with arts, media, and creativity (arguable), the guts of his talk isn’t a lot more than a linear laundry list of the founding and folding of companies. Yawn. I’d love to see someone retell the story focusing on the people and ideas rather than funding rounds and IPOs. That would be much more compelling to me.

    1. The title isn’t wrong, Anonymous, this is a first-person history. Fred Wilson is not Wikipedia. He’s chronicling what he knows, and the history he personally experienced. The immediate reaction to everything personal on the internet doesn’t have to be “look what this lacks.”

  3. Thaliaesque is correct in that an insider is giving a fairly neutral chronical but isn’t that what history shoudl be? It is still well worth watching.

  4. He’s definitely telling it from a business angle, but I have to say that as a teenager in the ’90s who couldn’t make hide nor hair of what the internet was really about, the New York internet scene always made a lot more sense to me than the West Coast one. Don’t know why, exactly, but I do know that spending many late nights listening to (barely) streaming Pseudo shows—especially Disinfo—was a large reason why I ended up leaving the Midwest and moving to Brooklyn.

  5. I agree with Anonymous above – he left out Panix AND Mindvox; I think two very very influential businesses at the time. But I’m glad he included Pseudo.

    Also, let’s not forget the other major point on the North American map – Silicon Mtn, that is, Seattle.

    Some very influential companies in the early 1990’s were there including Starwave, which was the first to understand brands and the web and integrate the two with ESPN.com

    For every Microsoft, Amazon, Real Networks are 50 other companies that didn’t make it at all. And in between are hundreds of smaller ones that did, and are perfectly happy thank you.

    Also, can Seattle claim Razorfish since there is a large office there like Wilson above in the video claimed Google for NYC?

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