This, the first of our regional blogs, is authored by the technology and financial journalist Dominic Basulto. Dominic is a New York native, has been a senior editor at Corante since day one and has written for a number of online and offline media companies. Send tips or story ideas to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
About this weblog
Here we'll report daily on the latest tech and business developments in New York City. Impossible we concede: comprehensive coverage of the city's every story. What we hope you'll find: tips, tidbits and perspectives you won't find elsewhere. As well as unique insights, original interviews and more that should be of interest to New York's vibrant community of technologists and those who track, invest in and report on them.
According to the New York Daily News, the owners of the Ace Bar in the East Village have put the place up for sale on eBay. The minimum bid: $670,000. So far, there have been no bidders - but one of the co-owners is still holding out hope that a deal is imminent: "I'm a Web kind of guy. I've never heard of this being done before, especially not a bar at its height of popularity. We figured we'd roll the dice and see what happens."...
So what do you get for a cool $670,000? "In addition to a 10-year lease, the new owners will inherit the bar's accoutrements, including its antique lunchbox collection, authentic circus sideshow banners, giant 3-D werewolf, pinball machines and a couple of Skee-Ball games. Less kitschy is the 30-foot bar itself - a beautiful ornate mahogany piece believed to be from the late 19th century. And, of course, the buyer would get a full stock of beer, liquor, juice and soda."
The New York Post reports that Eliot Spitzer is fighting to make New York movie theaters more accessible for the visually and hearing impaired. In an agreement reached with eight national theater chains - including AMC, Loews and Clearview - 140 theaters across the state will now offer extras such as "rear-window captioning" and headsets that offer descriptive narration of films. Currently, only a handful of theaters in New York City offer captioned or narrated films. Eliot Spitzer explains the rationale for the move: "Movies are an important part of popular culture. Every adult and child should be able to enjoy a film with family and friends, especially during the holiday season."
After Governor Pataki lifted a ban on Internet wine sales to New Yorkers in July, 166 out-of-state wineries have acquired a license to ship wines directly to New York state residents - including one California winery (Foxen Vineyards) that was featured in last year's movie hit "Sideways." Kendall-Jackson, which sells 3.5 million cases annually, was also mentioned as an out-of-state winery that is now able to sell directly to New Yorkers.
MSNBC has the details of the legal wrangling over selling wine via the Internet to New Yorkers, as well as local reaction from New York wine merchants. From the article, it appears that California winemakers are attempting to downplay the impact of the move, saying that the wines now available will only appeal to the "real connoisseur" and other lovers of specialty wines that aren't available anywhere else in New York state.
Donny Deutsch will announce the winner of the Media Person of the Year on CNBC's "The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch" on Monday. According to Deutsch, the frontrunner in the contest sponsored by I Want Media is shock jock Howard Stern, but there are a number of darkhorse candidates in the running, including Craig Newmark of Craig's List and Nick Denton of Gawker Media:
"Blog pal Arianna Huffington calls Nick Denton "the Rupert Murdoch of the blogosphere." Actually, his Gawker Media stable of popular blogs seems more like Conde Nast of blog world, attracting desirable demos and big-name advertisers. While Jason Calacanis sold his Weblogs outfit to AOL and Andrew Sullivan hooked up his blog to Time.com, Denton licensed Gawker content to Yahoo, insisting that "the whole point about blogs is that they're not part of big media." Denton and his crew of scrappy, buzz-making bloggers have probably done more than about anyone to establish blogs as a legit alternative medium."
Let's just hope that Martha Stewart doesn't win. (yes, she's one of the 10 candidates)
According to the New York Post, Cablevision is mulling over the idea of "a la carte" cable TV pricing. Interestingly, Chuck Dolan of Cablevision is the only senior executive from a major cable TV network that has gone on the record as supporting a la carte pricing. The FCC supports the idea, but the National Cable & Telecommunications Association feels that a la carte pricing could hurt the industry and result in fewer cable TV channels. Dolan seems to hit the nail right on the head, though, with his support of a new pricing option:
"Like Chairman Martin of the FCC, we do not believe in the long term that selling programming a la carte will be detrimental to either programmers or cable operators... Consumers should not be obliged, directly or indirectly, to buy services they do not want."
There you have it - why pay anywhere from $30 to $50 a month for cable, if you only watch a handful of the stations with any real regularity?
"Join local venture capitalists, government officials, and business leaders on Tuesday, November 29, for the launch of the NYSIA Incubator @ 55 Broad Street, New York City’s first incubator facility dedicated to software and IT companies.
Located in the heart of the Wall Street financial district, the NYSIA Incubator will unite technology businesses and induce economic development and growth in New York's software/information technology industry. The Incubator comprises two floors of space for events, training, and offices."
About two months ago, I had a chance to meet the head of the NYSIA, Bruce Bernstein, and take a tour of the facilities. There's a lot of good stuff happening down there. In the coming days, I'll try to highlight some of the exciting companies getting their start at the NYSIA Incubator. For now, here's a link to a feature piece in American Venture magazine: NYSIA Opens Incubator on Wall Street.
Over at Tech Central Station, Johan Wennström argues that a congestion pricing scheme for traffic in New York City would become an unwelcome burden for New Yorkers. Pointing to examples from London and Stockholm, where congestion pricing schemes are already a fact of life, Wennström makes the case against congestion pricing:
"Is this really something for the Capital of the World? Manhattan is still recovering from 9/11. This is perhaps the worst time to carry through a system that would be a burden to New Yorkers...
On the eve of Bloomberg's re-election, he proclaimed that New York is back in business after the World Trade Center attacks. Why make it harder for the city to recover by imposing a toll system which, if following the international pattern, will only hurt merchants and consumers alike?"
If you enjoyed the post-Thanksgiving sales at Century 21 over the past few days, good for you. As Felix Salmon of MemeFirst discovered from a recent rendering of the new World Trade Center development plans, it's quite possible that Century 21 will no longer be part of Lower Manhattan a few years from now:
"We know the Deutsche Bank building is slowly coming down. But will the same fate befall New York's very own Century 21? The Port Authority has sent up a trial balloon regarding its plans for retail at the WTC site, and according to the rendering (above), Century 21 (which is located on Church Street between Cortlandt and Dey) has simply ceased to exist! All that is left in its place is a patch of brown – one might almost say scorched – earth. It's not clear what's happened to 1 Liberty Plaza, either."
Already, the post on MemeFirst has generated about 25 comments, so it's obviously a topic of interest to New Yorkers. Or, at least, a topic of interest for New Yorkers concerned about high-quality discount shopping options.
In an article over at Digital Lifestyles ("A Wi-Fi'd Welshman In New York"), the UK's Mike Slocombe rhapsodizes about the ease and efficiency of finding Wi-Fi spots all over New York City:
"Unlike the UK, where the provision of Wi-Fi is often only seen as a revenue earner for landlords, café owners and telecoms companies, we had no problem hooking up for free all over New York. Maybe it's the fact that the apartments are so small in New York - or that the coffee keeps on getting refilled for free - but we were surprised by the popularity of cafes and bars serving up free Wi-Fi to their customers.
Wherever we went, a quick boot up of our laptop (or i-Mate JAMM smartphone/SanDisk wi-fi card) would inevitably produce a mile long list of networks available. We successfully logged in for free all over New York - in the East Village, Williamsburg, Lower East Side, Central Park, SoHo, you name it! - and were able to fire off emails and download tunes while enjoying coffee and bagels in several fine hostelries."
The New York Post had a brief mention of "teenage video game whiz" Sal "Volcano" Garozzo of Manhattan College, who recently won his second straight world gaming gold medal. The total prize money was $50,000, which he will split with his four other Team 3D teammates. The five teens won the title at last week's World Cyber Games in Singapore, where they defeated teams from Pakistan and Kazakhstan playing "Counter Strike."
Anyway, it's interesting to see that the next generation of kids in Pakistan and Kazakhstan are growing up playing a counter-terrorism videogame. One can only imagine Osama & the Gang, gathered around their cave in the mountainous regions of Pakistan, playing Counter-Strike on a bootleg Xbox to pass the time.
A New York start-up company, Instant Information, recently released a screen-based information & analytics tool (TouchPoint) for Wall Street traders and other financial markets professionals that acts in many ways like a Bloomberg terminal, but apparenly runs on any PC with off-the-shelf software (including Microsoft Office). There's a bit of a pedigree here, too: the company's founders include a number of principals from MULTEX.com. Not surprisingly, the company has already raised a round of early-stage venture capital from interested investors.
Instant Information is calling TouchPoint "an innovative approach to connecting financial professionals to the ideas, information, analytics, and individuals they depend on to do their jobs effectively and efficiently." Here's a quick blurb about TouchPoint from the company's Web site:
"TouchPoint supports the informal, dynamic and organic way ideas are created and shared without introducing artificial and time consuming workflows. TouchPoint is the single place where you can bring together relevant, specific items of content that are delivered from multiple sources (web, Outlook, IM, internal and vendor applications). As you find content on the web, in e-mail, or from other applications, it can be added to any of your TouchPoint folders with one click. When content is delivered via subscription, it can be added to folders automatically using detailed filtering. You decide how the content should be organized and shared.
TouchPoint enables you to discuss ideas and have the people, content and tools used in a discussion tightly bound in a shared “Workbook” that is automatically updated for all existing and new participants. The Workbook becomes the dynamic, historical view into all of the informal content sources that support a formal investment process.
TouchPoint works with the information sources you use today (including the Microsoft Office suite) allowing you to leverage your existing technology investment. TouchPoint is open and extensible. New data sources can be added on-the-fly without any additional development work."
Here's a link to "Great Locations to Shoot in Toronto" from the Toronto Film & Television Office -- see if any of these locations can possibly recreate the ambience and feel of New York City. The image to the left, for example, is Union Station Hall - a poor man's version of Grand Central Terminal.