Top 10 tech startups building in the Big Apple (New York City)
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Photo courtesy: King of Hearts / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

From New Amsterdam to the Capital of the World to Metropolis, New York is the place for startups and more

Settled by the Dutch in 1642, a real surprise to the Native Americans living in the regions for thousands of years, New Amsterdam became New York in 1664. It grew to be the largest city in the US about 1790, and has been ever since. Over 8.5 million people live in NYC proper, with millions more in the metropolitan area that spills over into three states.

The United Nations, more Fortune 500 company headquarters than any other city, and dozens of top universities make the area a hotbed for education and innovation. There are more people and more ideas packed into every corner of New York than anywhere else in the US. Need money? Go to Wall Street.

Everybody that’s anybody does business in New York, and that includes companies from around the world. That’s why the top tech startups in NYC have such a wide range and scope: New York City amps up everything.

WeWork

Photo courtesy: WeWork

Startups may not need a fancy office, but they certainly need a workspace. WeWork offers space and much more to support startups turning into real businesses and smaller companies growing larger. And the company has quickly spread around the world.

Beginning in May 2008 in Brooklyn as GreenDesk, WeWork received $1.1 million in seed money in October 2011 from an undisclosed source. Then T. Rowe Price, Goldman Sachs, and SoftBank, among others, got enthused and the funding rounds cache zoomed upwards. $150 million in Series C cash in October 2013 from an undisclosed source, $434 million in Series E funds in June 2015, then $2 Billion in private equity from SoftBank followed by another $1 Billion in February 2017. All told, funding total is just under $10 Billion.

Infor

Photo courtesy: Infor

Business software doesn’t just come from Silicon Valley. Infor makes software for the biggest companies with the biggest to-do lists in the world, and over 90,000 of those organizations rely on them for a wide range of automation services.

Founded in 2002 as Agilisys, the company self-funded until an undisclosed amount of Series D funds arrived in July 2011. Another undisclosed amount of private equity money showed up in April 2012. But the big deal was when Koch Equity Development made a private equity placement in November 2016 for $2.5 billion, putting total investment likely far north of that total.

BuzzFeed

Photo courtesy: BuzzFeed

Billed as “the leading independent media company delivering news and entertainment to hundreds of millions of people around the world,” the “news” section was pretty slim early on. But BuzzFeed stepped up and there’s an endless fascination with the site now for both news and nonsense and all in between.

Begun in 2006 by Jonah Peretti and John Johnson, the site got their first funding in July 2008 with $3.5 million in Series A money. Add $8 million in May 2010, $15.5 million in January 2012, $19.3 million in January 2013, and the money kept rolling in. August 2015 saw $200 million in Series F funds from Comcast NBC Universal, followed by another $200 million in Series G loot in November 2016 from a group led by Comcast NBC Universal. Total to date is darn close to $500 million.

FanDuel

Photo courtesy: FanDuel

Enhanced sports engagement or illegal online gambling? That argument still rages but investors have bet FanDuel will continue to lead the fantasy sports market in every professional sport. They report 30+ million players in North America.

The games started in June 2007 and an angel huddled up with an undisclosed amount in November. Series A, B, and C led up to September 2014 with a Series D dollar amount of $70 million placed by eight investors. In July 2015 KKR & Co. passed over $275 million Series E funding. September 2016 a convertible note brought in $55 million. Score so far? Something above $416 million.

AppNexus

Photo courtesy: AppNexus

New York City is the home of Madison Avenue, so ad-related startups make sense. Say hello to AppNexus, a technology that simplifies the most sophisticated machine learning and data science capabilities so customers reach their full potential, or at least more online sales.

Fall 2007 started the journey, as big data and machine learning were just beginning to be practical. By December, an angel brought $2.5 million followed by another $2.3 million a month later. Other placements include $75 million in January 2013, $62.67 million in February 2015, and $60 million in August 2014. So far, at least $321.47 million has been invested.

Betterment

Photo courtesy: Betterment

Wall Street rules the world’s investing market, but some companies think disruption is a good bet. Betterment is an automated investing service using data science to maximize returns while keeping management fees far below typical Wall Street rates.

The till opened in the summer of 2008, as machine learning and big data started to become practical and affordable for startups. An undisclosed Series A placement in November 2010 started the investor ball rolling. Resulting placements include $100 million and $70 million Series E drops, and $60 million Series D. Balance so far is over $275 million.

Warby Parker

Photo courtesy: Warby Parker

Billions of people need eyeglasses, or at least vision correction, and one global company dominates the market. Warby Parker disrupted this industry when the company made eyewear affordable via Internet sales.

Founded in 2010 after one of the founders lost his glasses and couldn’t afford new ones while in graduate school, $500k in debt financing helped immediately. July 2011 arrived with $1.5 million in seed money, followed by $12 million Series A funds in September 2011. January 2013 rang in the new year with $41.5 million and December that year rang out with another $60 million, followed by $100 million in Series D dollars in April 2015. Looks clearly and fashionably like $215 million.

Outbrain

Photo courtesy: Outbrain

Advertising funds the websites we enjoy much like ad fund TV. For a decade, Outbrain has made sure marketers place their messages where they have the most impact while tailoring content to the viewer. If we must see ads, at least they can be something interesting and not random, thanks to Outbrain.

Beginning in 2006, $1 million in seed money came with the new year in January 2007. Another $5 million came just over a year later, and another $12 million in February 2009. Big bucks came in December 2011 and October 2013 with $35 million each placement, $50 million in July 2015, and $45 million more in May 2016. “Ad” that all up to about $194 million.

ClassPass

Photo courtesy: ClassPass

While the news talks about the obesity epidemic, gyms and exercise studios are everywhere. ClassPass makes it easy to find and attend classes anywhere with member studios. Tired of pushing iron? Interested in yoga or dance? ClassPass makes it simple to try them all.

The sweating started in 2013 after an undisclosed amount of seed money in May 2012. By March 2014 17 investors joined in to place $2 million more in seed funding. Other big placements include $40 million in January 2015 and $70 million Series C cash in June 2017. All these repetitions add up to over $154 million.

Girls Who Code

Photo courtesy: Girls Who Code

Big money? Not yet. Big social impact? Absolutely. Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani visited schools when she ran for Congress and saw the tremendous gender gap in computing classes. Now with national coverage, more than 60 top companies have pledged to hire Girls Who Code alumni.

Beginning in December 2011, GWC finally received support with $1 million in seed funding in January 2016. Grants from General Motors, Shop Your Way, and Uber added another $1.45 million to push the funding rounds total to a (we can do better) $2.45 million.

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James Gaskin

About James Gaskin


James writes books, articles, and jokes about technology, and consults for those who don't read his books and articles.

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