Don’t Believe the Hype: New York VCs Think Brooklyn’s the Illest

BETABEAT Apr 13, 2012 Back to press

"Certain kinds of basic, human needs are abundantly met over there.”

A week after we wondered whether Dumbo has hit maximum capacity–cobblestone streets, now in limited supply!–venture capitalists have arrived to big ups the borough.

Will Porteous, general partner at Manhattan-based RRE Ventures, tells peHUB that Brooklyn may just be the best place to launch, pointing out that eight RRE portfolio companies call Brooklyn home. Err, make that “were.” and Hot Potato were acquired (or acqui-hired, depending on who you ask) by Facebook in 2010, but that still leaves HowAboutWe, MakerBot, Pontiflex, and more for serious street cred.

Brooklyn Bridge Ventures founder Charlie O’Donnell, formerly of First Round Capital, does Mr. Porteous one better, wondering if Facebook will even be able to make devs happy from its stodgy Midtown perch. Estimating that “50 percent of people who work at venture-backed startups live in Brooklyn,” Mr. O’Donnell thinks the exodus has already begun.


So what’s all the fuss about? According to peHUB, Mr. Porteous seems particularly taken with Brooklyn’s creativity-inducing environs–and the sunbeams–going as far as claiming it’s better for humans, basically.

“Software development and entrepreneurship are creative endeavors, and Brooklyn is synonymous with creativity,” says Porteous. More, he notes, “The quality of life is incredibly high in Brooklyn, relative to what it costs to live [in Manhattan]. Certain kinds of basic, human needs are abundantly met over there” including “just the light alone.”

Mr. O’Donnell, meanwhile, pegs it as more to the growing pains of New York tech:

“I was 25 or so” when the scene in New York began taking off again in 2005, explains O’Donnell. “But my peers are now in their early 30s. People are doing the marriage and kids thing, and they’re moving into South Brooklyn, Prospect Park, Cobble Hill, Carol Gardens. [The neighborhoods] are far more affordable [than Manhattan], and they’re places that are conducive to family life, as opposed to [Manhattan], where you’re falling over each other to get your kids into private schools.”

Look, we are all for headlines like “A VC Portfolio Grows In Brooklyn.” We moved to Brooklyn five years ago and we’re never looking back. Having an office closer to where you live also sounds like nice work, if you can get it. But let’s not pretend that Brooklyn is any more preternaturally creative (we hear some very nice books, movies, code, etc. have come out of Manhattan as well), humane, or even immune to rising rents or the excruciating New York pressure of scrambling to get your kid into a good (public) school. As long as we can avoid overselling it, we’re good. Otherwise, you know, it’s a slippery slope from here to “Portlandia.”

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