The Alley vs. the Valley: Why Qwiki Moved East

June 25, 2012 at 4:00 am

Qwiki recently moved back to New York City from Silicon Valley, settling 15 employees into a SoHo office. Photo courtesy of Qwiki

A lot has been said about New York City gaining on Silicon Valley as the technology and innovation epicenter of the country. Mayor Michael Bloomberg is betting his mayoral legacy on it, by opening the new Cornell NYCTech campus; Google has jumped on board by purchasing nearly 3 million square feet of office space (and apparently is looking for more) and venture capitalists are taking the queues and investing millions here, while investment in the Valley decreases.

Why is this happening? Is New York City a more desirable place to live and work than Silicon Valley, as Aaron Harris of Tutorspree suggests to The New York Times in the video below? Or, as has also been suggested, are technology companies flocking to the Big Apple so they can work alongside the city’s other major industries?


In this video produced by Joshua Brustein of The New York Times, start-up founders explain why they chose New York City for their company. Video courtesy of The New York Times.

For Doug Imbruce, founder and CEO of Qwiki, it’s the latter. His interactive video company lets users create multimedia presentations using online content such as images, video and audio. Imbruce, a native of New York, conceived of his product here in 2009, but moved to California because the tech community in New York was not as robust as it is now. After three years in the Valley, Qwiki was “pulled back” to the city because its product allows people to package content creatively, and content creation happens, for the most part, in New York City.

“Qwiki is a tool for creative people, and New York’s the epicenter of creativity worldwide,” he said.

Imbruce is implying what Bloomberg and the city’s Economic Development Corporation also believe: that because New York City is the center of many industries — from finance to fashion to media — technology companies need to be here to develop more efficient ways to advance those industries.

“Tech undergirds all industries that New York needs to be competitive in. Every industry in New York City and every job in New York City is going to be impacted by technology,” said Seth Pinsky, president of the NYC Economic Development Corporation at a recent tech event.

Qwiki recently announced that ABC News Digital will create “Qwiki” multimedia presentations based on its own reporting. Imbruce says being located near ABC headquarters helped move the deal along.

“Who knows if it would have happened,” he said. “It wouldn’t have happened as quickly.”

Qwiki also just announced a partnership with the search engine (watch a demonstration here.) And although bing is not located in New York City, they support Qwiki’s New York collaborations because content producers such as ABC News will create higher quality Qwiki’s than an average Internet user.

“[By being in New York] we have an advantage because bing needs content,” said Imbruce. “They’re excited about Qwiki’s move to New York.”

For more technology news, watch “MetroFocus: The Tech Economy,” airing on THIRTEEN on June 30 at 5 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. and July 12 at 8:30 p.m.; on WLIW at 5:30 a.m. on June 30; on NJTV on July 1 at 5:30 a.m. and July 2 at 4:30 a.m.


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