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ShipBob fulfillment center in Moreno Valley, California

After ShipBob decided last July to let staffers work from anywhere, the logistics start-up had its landlord erect a wall in the middle of its Chicago headquarters so half the space could be rented out to another company.

On March 1, the office reopened at reduced capacity for socially distanced meetings.

But while it’s using less office space, ShipBob’s real estate needs have been expanding at a breakneck pace. The company, which provides fulfillment services to online retailers, has more than doubled its warehouse count since mid-2020 to 24 locations today, including four outside the U.S., with plans to reach 35 by the end of 2021.

The seven-year-old company is a microcosm of the U.S. commercial real estate market. While office vacancies have soared as employers prepare for a post-Covid future of distributed work, the industrial market is hotter than ever because of a pandemic-fueled surge in e-commerce and increased consumer demand to get more products at Amazon-like speeds.

Vacancy rates in industrial buildings are near a record low and new warehouses can’t get built quickly enough to meet the needs of clothing makers, furniture sellers and home appliance manufacturers. Real estate firm CBRE said in its first-quarter report on the industrial and logistics market that almost 100 million square feet of space was absorbed in the period, the third-highest amount ever, and that a record 376 million square feet is under construction.

Rents rose 7.1% in the quarter from the same period a year earlier to an all-time high of $8.44 per square foot, CBRE said. The firm wrote in a follow-up report last month that prices in coastal markets near population centers and inland port hubs are soaring by double-digit percentages. In Northern New Jersey, average base rent for industrial properties jumped 33% in May from a year earlier, and California’s Inland Empire saw an increase of 24%, followed by Philadelphia at 20%.

“The need to have facilities in these markets, coupled with record low vacancy rates, has often led to bidding wars among occupiers that are driving up rental rates,” CBRE said.

Skyrocketing prices

The wheels were well in motion before Covid-19 hit the U.S. in early 2020. Amazon was already turning next-day delivery into the default option for Prime members, and big box stores like Best Buy and Walmart were racing to add fulfillment space to try and keep pace.

The pandemic accelerated everything. Consumers were stuck at home and ordering more stuff, while physical stores had to go digital to stay afloat.

Grocery delivery added to the market tightness, as Instacart and Postmates were suddenly inundated with orders from customers who didn’t want to enter a Costco, Albertsons or Kroger store. Instacart is now planning a network of fulfillment centers loaded up with cereal-picking robots, according to Bloomberg, and Target has bolstered same-day fulfillment through so-called sortation centers.

In addition to the rapid change in consumer behavior, the pandemic also exposed the fragility of the global supply chain. With facilities in China and elsewhere shuttered, stores experienced dramatic shortages of apparel, car parts and packaging materials.

Retailers responded by securing more storage space to mitigate the impact of future shocks, said James Koman, CEO of ElmTree Funds, a private equity firm focused on commercial real estate.

“The reshoring of manufacturing is gaining momentum,” Koman said. Companies are “bringing more products onshore and need to have room for their products so we don’t fall into another situation like we’re in right now.”

All of those factors are contributing to skyrocketing prices, he said. Additionally, construction costs are higher because of inflation and supply constraints, and companies are building more sophisticated facilities, filled with robots.

“You have these automatic forklifts, conveyor belts, and automated storage retrieval systems,” Koman said. “All this is where the world is going.”

Amazon introduces new robots named Bert and Ernie to fulfillment center operations.
Source: Amazon Inc.

Betting on a long-term need for fulfillment and logistics facilities, ElmTree has acquired about $2 billion worth of industrial space over the past seven months, outpacing prior years, Koman said. He estimates the U.S. will need an additional 135-150 million square feet annually to support e-commerce growth.

For ShipBob, the e-commerce boom has played right into its business model. But competition for space is simultaneously forcing the company to reckon with higher costs.

ShipBob works with brands like perfume company Dossier, powdered energy drink maker Juspy and Tom Brady’s sports and fitness brand TB12, providing a wide network of fulfillment centers for fast and reliable shipping and software to manage deliveries and inventory.

Unlike the retail giants, ShipBob doesn’t go after large football field-sized fulfillment centers, and only has leases at a few of its facilities. Rather, it looks for warehouses that are typically family-owned with 75,000-100,000 square feet and some unused capacity. It then outfits them with ShipBob technology and pays based on order volume and the amount of space it uses.

While ShipBob isn’t signing leases, it is competing for space in warehouses that are now sitting on much more valuable property than they were a year ago. ShipBob CEO Dhruv Saxena said that his company has to be in areas like Southern California and Louisville, Kentucky, a major transportation and logistics hub, despite the rapid increase in prices.

“We have to find ways of placing inventory closer to the end customer even if it comes at a lower margin for us,” Saxena said in an interview late last month after his company raised $200 million at a valuation topping $1 billion.

ShipBob competes directly with a number of fulfillment outsourcing start-ups, including ShipMonk, Deliverr and Shippo. Those four companies have raised almost $900 million combined in the past year.

Not just Amazon

Saxena said a major reason smaller retailers turn to ShipBob is to avoid the costs and hassle of finding fulfillment space and hiring the requisite workers. He likened it to companies outsourcing their computing and data storage needs to Amazon Web Services and paying for how much capacity they use rather than leasing their own data centers.

“The same math applies,” Saxena said. “I can open a warehouse, hire people and rig the software or I can convert those fixed costs into variable costs where I pay on a transaction basis.”

ShipBob employees with CEO Dhruv Saxena in middle

Nate Faust is in the very early stages of building Olive, an e-commerce start-up that’s working with brands to offer more sustainable packaging and delivery options by using recycled boxing materials and bundling items.

Olive opened its first two 30,000 square foot warehouses last year, one in New Jersey and the other in Southern California. Faust, who previously co-founded and then worked at Walmart after the acquisition, said if he were entering those leases today, they’d easily be 10% to 15% higher.

Olive isn’t actively in the market for more fulfillment centers and doesn’t face a lease renewal until February, but Faust said start-ups have to be opportunistic. He’s working with real estate firm JLL, which he said is constantly on the prowl for attractive space.

“We have them looking all the time because industrial space is so tight right now,” Faust said. “If we find something perfect for what we’re looking for, it’s not unreasonable to have overlapping leases.”

Olive package

Vik Chawla, a partner at venture firm Fifth Wall, which invests in property technologies, said the challenges in the real estate market are driving more emerging brands and sellers to the outsourcing model.

“It’s very difficult as a single e-commerce business to try to secure attractive space and run your business,” Chawla said. “The line of people trying to get into industrial buildings is out the door.”

Many tenants occupying that line are traditional big third-party logistics providers (3PLs), like C.H. Robinson and XPO Logistics as well as UPS and FedEx. At the top end of the market, Amazon, Walmart and Target are mopping up space to speed distribution and, in Amazon’s case, to manage fulfillment for its massive marketplace of third-party sellers.

Prologis, the largest U.S. owner of industrial real estate, said in a May report that utilization rates, which indicate how much space is being used, reached close to 85%. Vacancy rates are at 4.7%, close to a record low, the company said.

Amazon is the real estate firm’s biggest customer, occupying 22 million square feet, followed by Home Depot at 9 million and then FedEx and UPS, according to Prologis’ latest annual report. Walmart is seventh.

In April, an analyst on Prologis’ earnings call asked what types of clients were most actively pursuing leases.

“E-commerce is a big component of it, but it’s certainly not all about Amazon,” Michael Curless, Prologis’ chief customer officer, said in response. “Certainly, they’re the most active customer. But we’re seeing a lot of activity from the Targets, the Walmarts, Home Depots, and lots of evidence of the Chinese players making their way to the U.S. and Europe as well.”

WATCH: EY on how Covid has boosted digitalization in the retail industry

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Vitalik Buterin, the man behind ethereum, talks crypto and the U.S. crackdown




Vitalik Buterin, the man behind ethereum, talks crypto and the U.S. crackdown

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin in Prague, where he finds refuge with like-minded programmers looking to change the world through cryptography-powered technology.


PRAGUE — For Vitalik Buterin, the idea of home is fleeting.

The Russia-born coder, who built ethereum in his late teens, doesn’t stay long in any one city anymore. Meanwhile, the list of places he won’t go keeps growing.

“There’s definitely a bunch of countries that I would have very gladly visited three years ago, that I’m much, much more apprehensive about visiting today,” Buterin told CNBC in an interview in the Czech Republic.

Buterin singled out his homeland of Russia as one of the destinations he now avoids. The Canadian emigre has both Ukrainian and Russian roots but has actively supported the resistance movement in Ukraine. It has also become clear that pursuing privacy technologies and open-source code carries risk in certain global jurisdictions, giving Buterin new hesitation — for instance, the creators behind the open-source protocol Tornado Cash face charges in both the Netherlands and the U.S. Tornado Cash is used by some people to protect their privacy in the still-nascent crypto market, but a mixing service can also be used by criminals or nation-states to launder money. Many in the industry worry that targeting the developers who build a tool, instead of just the bad actors using that tool, sets a dangerous precedent.

“Even in countries that the mainstream considers to still be fairly normal places — I definitely worry about those more,” Buterin says.

The decentralized lifestyle suits Buterin, a 29-year-old programmer whose influence in the crypto sector transcends lines of code — or geography. Prague is one new center of gravity where he now finds refuge with like-minded programmers collectively looking to change the world through cryptography-powered technology.

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin speaks at ETHPrague 2023, an international conference drawing crypto developers from around the world.

Photo: Pavel Sinagl

We met in a sparsely furnished room at the top of a sprawling industrial complex in the Holešovice district, a neighborhood once synonymous with slaughterhouses and steam mills, that’s now home to Bohemian artists and some of crypto’s most rebellious believers. The interior of this deceptively nondescript structure is a honeycomb of labyrinthine corridors and winding staircases that snake into its fortress-like belly, echoing the complexity of crypto to the unfamiliar.

Today, the biggest challenge for Buterin and the ethereum community is making sure that it provides actual value to people.

“The way that I see the ethereum ecosystem in general is that the last decade was the decade of kind of playing around and getting ethereum right. This decade is the decade where we have to actually build things that people use,” Buterin said, hands clasped, as he leaned forward from his perch on an ergonomic-friendly kneeling chair.

He is arguably the most influential cryptographic developer alive today, but Buterin wasn’t trying to step into the limelight when he wrote the ethereum white paper in 2013. Still, years after shunning public accolades and demurring countless invitations to speak to the press, he can’t shake the fame — or the superlatives used to describe him.

Buterin was named the world’s youngest crypto billionaire at age 27 as the crypto market swelled to its peak in 2021. They call him “V God” in China, Time magazine dubbed him crypto royalty in its April 2022 cover story, and he faces mobs of fans desperate for a moment of his attention — and a selfie — virtually anywhere he goes on the planet.

But Buterin isn’t really any of those things.

He isn’t the prince of crypto. He isn’t a cult leader of new gen cypherpunks. He isn’t the wonkiest wonk, or the nerdiest nerd. He regularly gives away his fortune to worthy causes, knocking down his net worth. And he isn’t, according to his own estimation, the be-all and end-all authority on the ethereum network.

He is, however, someone who cares deeply about realizing his vision of a world where, among other things, humans have equitable access to money no matter who they are or where they live.

ETHPrague 2023 was held at Paralelní Polis in the Czech Republic.

Pavel Sinagl

Buterin finds that cryptocurrencies realize their greatest utility in emerging economies — a phenomenon that has gained momentum in recent years.

“The stuff that we often find a bit basic and boring is exactly the stuff that brings lots of value to them right now, like making payments work, and savings,” Buterin said, referring to lower-income countries.

“Just being able to plug into the international economy — these are things that they don’t have, and these are things that provide huge value for people there,” Buterin told CNBC. “It’s hard to even be interested in really abstract stuff like decentralized social media, when you don’t really have those kinds of basics done.”

As U.S. investigators pressed criminal charges against the likes of Sam Bankman-Fried and federal regulators such as the Securities and Exchange Commission began cracking down on what they called the trade of unregistered securities, the action in crypto began to move overseas.

Whereas investors in the U.S. tend to treat crypto as more of a get-rich-quick opportunity and a way to trade on volatility in a less-regulated market than traditional securities, Buterin typically gravitates to developing markets around the world — including Africa, where he traveled in February — where he sees tangible, day-to-day use cases for the technology he helped to build.

When I visited Argentina back at the end of 2021, lots of people use crypto, lots of people love crypto,” he said. “I literally got recognized on the streets of Buenos Aires more often than I got recognized in San Francisco.”

But for crypto to become truly useful on a global scale, Buterin told CNBC, it ultimately has to move out of centralized entities such as custodial trading platforms and it must be simpler to use.

“I found coffee shops without even looking for them that just happened to accept bitcoin and ether — but the problem is, they were all using Binance,” said Buterin.

He said he appreciates centralized exchanges such as Binance for offering a smoother user experience to non-technical people living in countries where the average GDP is less than $10,000 per capita. Nevertheless, he believes that it must become more decentralized.

“Those centralized actors are vulnerable to, you know, both pressure from the outside and to themselves being corrupted,” he said.

Last year, a wave of bankruptcies in the crypto sector exposed grift throughout the industry.

A lot of people got rich before the increase in interest rates and subsequent collapse of Luna in May 2022 set off a chain reaction that sent the entire market tumbling down, spurring a crypto winter that persists to this day. Bankman-Fried, the ex-CEO of now-bankrupt crypto exchange FTX, for example, faces criminal charges alleging that he promulgated a multibillion-dollar fraud scheme. Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange by trading volume, is being sued by both the SEC and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission over a raft of accusations, including the assertion that Binance commingled billions of dollars worth of user funds with its own money.

Instead of placing blind trust in a central intermediary to act in the best interest of the customer, Buterin said, he believes the ideal solution comes down to writing better code so that users can deal directly on-chain.

“We need the experience on-chain to actually be good for regular people to use,” Buterin said.

“We need it to actually be possible to do ethereum payments in a way where the transaction fee is less than five cents a transaction; in a way where the experience doesn’t suck and randomly fail 2.3% of the time; in such a way that you need a Ph.D. in ethereum sciences to actually figure out what’s going on,” he said.

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin speaks at ETHPrague 2023, an international conference drawing crypto developers from around the world.

Photo: Pavel Sinagl

Privacy and security are also key priorities.

“People need to have wallets that are actually secure, where if they lose the keys, they’re not going to lose everything,” Buterin added.

A national digital currency could provide the ease of use he envisions, but he believes that decentralization is also critical, otherwise they’ll devolve into another version of the existing banking system — only with more surveillance built in.

“That was a space where I think I had somewhat more hope, probably, naively, five years ago, because there were a lot of people who wanted to do things like make them blockchain friendly, give actual transparency and verifiability guarantees, and some kind of level of actual privacy,” Buterin said, referring to central bank digital currencies, or CBDCs.

CBDCs are a type of blockchain-based virtual currency that is fully regulated and has the backing of a country’s central bank. The People’s Bank of China, which is arguably the leader in CBDCs thus far, has been piloting its take on a CBDC for almost a decade. As of June, transactions using the digital yuan, or e-yuan, hit nearly $250 billion. But as CBDCs catch on, concerns have been raised about financial surveillance and monitoring tools which can be baked into these government-issued digital currencies.

“As each and every one of those projects come to a certain maturity,” Buterin said, the privacy-preserving bits “all sort of fall away as the thing comes closer and closer to being a 1.0. We get systems that are not actually much better than existing payment systems, because they just basically end up being different front-ends for the existing banking system.”

“They end up being even less private and basically break down all of the existing barriers against both corporations and the government at the same time,” he said.

Building a new, brave world

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin speaks at ETHPrague 2023, an international conference drawing crypto developers from around the world.

Photo: Pavel Sinagl

In ethereum circles, hackers are known as BUIDLers — an intentional misspelling of the word “builders” in a sort of homage to the bitcoin meme HODL, or “hold on for dear life.” The meme-off may seem silly, but it gets at the core of what separates these two very different sets of people.

Bitcoiners tend to move more slowly on development, prioritizing security and decentralization above all else, while ethereum programmers tend to be more cavalier. While they aren’t necessarily breaking things as they go, they do move fast and tinker aggressively.

Last year, for example, the ethereum network fundamentally altered the way the blockchain secures its networks and verifies transactions, slashing its energy consumption by more than 99% in the process. Before this upgrade, both the bitcoin and ethereum blockchains had their own vast networks of miners all over the planet running highly specialized computers that crunched math equations in order to validate transactions. Proof-of-work uses a lot of energy, and it is one of the industry’s biggest targets for criticism.

But with the upgrade, ethereum migrated to a system known as proof-of-stake, which swaps out miners for validators. Instead of running large banks of computers, validators leverage their existing cache of ether as a means to verify transactions and mint new tokens. 

Buterin insisted that ethereum’s move to a proof-of-stake model is more likely to stand up against government intervention.

“Proof-of-stake is actually easier to anonymize and harder to shut down than proof-of-work is,” he said. “Proof-of-work requires huge amounts of physical equipment and requires huge amounts of electricity. These are exactly the kinds of things that drug enforcement agencies have decades of experience detecting.”

About the ethereum network, he said, “On the other hand, you’ve got your laptop. You just need a VPN somewhere, and you hide it in a corner. It’s not perfect, but it’s definitely much easier to hide.”

Coder behind the curtain

In previous appearances in Denver and Paris, Buterin’s stage presence was colored with a subtle unease. But one-on-one in Prague, he really came alive, dropping the tics and effortlessly swapping the role of elusive coder for open-minded educator.

His transparent communication style, coupled with his willingness to engage in profound philosophical discussions around concepts such as quadratic funding — a way to crowd-raise a central crypto treasury that is then used to fund public goods projects in ethereum, all with the help of an algorithm designed to optimize spending decisions — and soulbound digital identities on the blockchain have turned him into a trusted thought leader within the crypto community.

Notably, Buterin is also very willing to field any question posed to him — especially those that address critiques of the network and of the scope of his leadership position today.

Take the example of his own outsized role in the cryptocurrency he created. Unlike the pseudonymous and hidden Satoshi Nakamoto, who created bitcoin, Buterin is very much the face of ethereum.

Some see this as a significant point of weakness for the network, because governments could target either Buterin or the Ethereum Foundation. But Buterin rejects those contentions. He said that five years ago a lot more was dependent on him personally and on the foundation, but today, clients — that is, software applications built on top of the blockchain that operate independently — have taken on a lot of the work. Ethereum has become its own self-governing ecosystem, with no single point of failure, he said.

“Even if the foundation got some magic freezing order in every jurisdiction at the same time, and if something happened to me at the same time, there’s entire companies that are sole maintainers of ethereum clients that would totally be able to continue,” explained Buterin.

They call it the philosophy of subtraction.

“I think one of the ways of describing its aim is basically that the Ethereum Foundation isn’t trying to kind of be a zealot, a long-term operator or dominator, or anything like that,” he said. “The goal of the Ethereum Foundation is to foster things that, once they start, can continue in a way that’s totally independent.”

In terms of what’s next for ethereum, Buterin said a big priority is focusing on privacy and scalability through zero-knowledge rollups.

ZK-rollups are transactions bundled into sets and executed off-chain. This layer-two technology plays a major role in future upgrades that will ultimately help to make ethereum faster and cheaper to use.

“There’s definitely an extent to which there are diverging interests and there is the extent to which I think the ecosystem does need to find a way to fight hard for the right to continue to build things with the kinds of privacy that we’ve been used to for thousands of years,” Buterin said.

Clarification: Buterin does not believe he’s been targeted by any countries specifically and does not consider himself an outlaw, but is apprehensive about visiting certain countries because of his work.

Ethereum, Bitcoin communities descend on Prague as U.S. crackdown grips crypto market

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New York is a tech startup hotbed after almost a decade-long run of IPOs




New York is a tech startup hotbed after almost a decade-long run of IPOs

Olivier Pomel, co-founder and CEO of Datadog, speaks at the company’s Dash conference in San Francisco on Aug. 3, 2023.


Albert Wang, a native Californian, moved to New York from Boston with his wife a decade ago and got a job as a product manager at Datadog, which at the time was a fledgling startup helping companies monitor their cloud servers and databases.

New York had its share of startup investors and venture-backed companies, but it wasn’t a hotbed of tech activity. The San Francisco Bay Area was the dominant tech scene. On the East Coast, Boston was better known as the hub of enterprise technology.

But Datadog grew up — fast — going public in 2019, and today it sports a market cap of over $28 billion. After four years at the company, Wang left but chose to stay in New York to launch Bearworks, providing software to sales reps. The city is totally different from the place he encountered when he arrived, and you can feel it when you’re out at a bar or restaurant, Wang said.

“Now it’s extremely diversified — there are more people doing startups,” he said. Before, “you tended to be surrounded by consultants and bankers, but more and more now, there’s tech.”

Datadog’s initial public offering was followed less than two years later by UiPath, which develops software for automating office tasks. They were both preceded by cloud database developer MongoDB in 2017 and e-commerce platform Etsy in 2015.

None of those Big Apple companies are huge by the tech industry’s standards — market caps range from $9 billion to just under $30 billion — but they’ve created an ecosystem that’s spawned many new startups and created enough wealth to turn some early employees into angel investors for the next generation of entrepreneurs.

While the tech industry is still trying to bounce back from a brutal 2022, which was the worst year for the Nasdaq since the 2008 financial crisis, New Yorkers are bullish on the city that never sleeps.

Among the 50 states, New York was second to California last year, with $29.2 billion invested in 2,048 startups, according to the National Venture Capital Association. Massachusetts was third. In 2014, prior to the run of New York City IPOs, California was the leader, followed by Massachusetts and then New York.

Annual capital deployed in New York over the past nine years has increased sevenfold, NVCA data shows. And that’s after last year’s steep industrywide slump. During the record fundraising year of 2021, New York startups received almost $50 billion across 1,935 companies.

California companies raised three times that amount, and the Bay Area has its own share of startup market momentum. Following the launch of ChatGPT in November from San Francisco’s OpenAI, the city has become a mecca for artificial intelligence development.

Investors have pumped over $60 billion into Bay Area startups so far this year, with half of the money flowing to AI companies, according to data from PitchBook.

Northern California has long been the heartbeat of the tech industry, but Murat Bicer remembers what it was like for New York startups before the rush. In 2012, his Boston-based firm, RTP Ventures, presented a term sheet for a funding round to Datadog but wanted one more investor to participate.

“We talked to so many firms,” said Bicer, who left RTP for venture firm CRV in 2015. “So many at the time passed because they didn’t think you could build an enterprise software company in New York. They said it had to be in Boston.”

That dynamic challenged Olivier Pomel, Datadog’s French co-founder and CEO, who had built up a local network after working in New York for a decade. Boston had the enterprise scene. The rest of tech was in Silicon Valley.

“VCs from the West Coast were not really investing outside the West Coast at the time,” Pomel said.

But Pomel was determined to build Datadog in New York. Eventually, Index Ventures, a firm that was founded in Europe, joined in the funding round for Datadog, giving the company the fuel to grow up in the city. Pomel relocated the company to The New York Times building off Manhattan’s Times Square.

DigitalOcean CEO on A.I. deal in cloud space, state of tech and A.I. competition

For New York to keep the momentum, it will need to churn out a continuing string of successes. That won’t be easy. The IPO market has finally shown some signs of life over the past week after being shuttered for almost two years, but investor enthusiasm has been muted and there aren’t many obvious New York-based tech IPO candidates.

Startups proliferated in New York during the dot-com boom, but many disappeared in the 2000s. Datadog, MongoDB and cloud infrastructure provider DigitalOcean all popped up after the Great Recession. DigitalOcean went public in 2021 and now has a market cap of just over $2 billion.

Employees from those companies and even a few of their founders have formed new startups in New York. Google and Salesforce are among Big Tech employers that bolstered their presence in the city, making it easier for tech startups to find people with the right skills. And investors who for decades had prioritized the Bay Area have recently set up shop in New York.

‘No question’ you can go big in New York

Andreessen Horowitz, GGV Capital, Index and Lightspeed Venture Partners expanded their presence in the city in 2022. In July of this year, Silicon Valley’s most prized firm, Sequoia Capital, which was MongoDB’s largest venture investor, opened a New York office.

“Today, there’s absolutely no question in my mind that you can build fantastic businesses in New York,” said Bicer.

Eliot Horowitz, who co-founded MongoDB in 2007 and is now building a New York-based robotics software startup called Viam, shared that sentiment.

“The biggest difference between now and then is no one questions New York,” Horowitz said.

Horowitz is among a growing group of successful founders pumping some of their riches back into New York. He backed DeliverZero, a startup that allows people to order food in reusable containers that can be returned. The company is working with around 200 restaurants and some Whole Foods stores in New York, Colorado and California.

Eliot Horowitz, co-founder of Viam and formerly co-founder and chief technology officer of MongoDB, speaks at the Collision conference in Toronto on May 23, 2019.

Vaughn Ridley | Sportsfile | Getty Images

Wainer, a co-founder of DigitalOcean, invested in collaboration software startup Multiplayer alongside Bowery Capital. He’s also backed Vantage, a cloud cost-monitoring startup founded by ex-DigitalOcean employees Brooke McKim and Ben Schaechter. Vantage, with 30 employees, has hundreds of customers, including Block, Compass and PBS, Schaechter said.

Meanwhile, Wainer has moved to Florida, but he’s building his new company in New York. Along with fellow DigitalOcean co-founder Ben Uretsky, he started Welcome Homes, whose technology lets people design and order new homes online. The company has over $47 million worth of homes under construction, said Wainer, who visits Welcome’s headquarters every month or two.

Wainer said that companies like DigitalOcean, which had over 1,200 employees at the end of last year, have helped people gain skills in cloud software marketing, product management and other key areas in technology.

“The pool of talent has expanded,” he said.

That has simplified startup life for Edward Chiu, co-founder and CEO of Catalyst, whose software is designed to give companies a better read on their customers. When he ran customer success at DigitalOcean, Chiu said finding people with applicable experience wasn’t easy.

“That function, even just a decade ago, just wasn’t relevant in New York City,” Chiu said. “Nowadays, it is very easy to hire in New York City for any role, really.”

The ecosystem is rapidly maturing. When Steph Johnson, a former communications executive at DigitalOcean and MongoDB, got serious about raising money for Multiplayer, which she started with her husband, the couple called Graham Neray.

Investing in the next generation

Neray had been chief of staff to MongoDB CEO Dev Ittycheria and had left the company to start data-security startup Oso in New York. Neray told the Multiplayer founders that he would connect them with 20 investors.

“He did what he said he would do,” Johnson said, referring to Neray. “He helped us so much.” Johnson said she and her husband joked about naming their startup Graham because of how helpful he’d been.

To some degree, Neray was just paying his dues. To help establish Oso, Neray had looked for help from Datadog’s Pomel. He also asked Ittycheria for a connection.

Dev Ittycheria, CEO of MongoDB

Adam Jeffery | CNBC

“I have an incredible amount of respect for Oli and what he achieved,” Neray said, referring to Pomel. “He’s incredibly strong on both the product side and the go-to-market side, which is rare. He’s in New York, and he’s in infrastructure, and I thought that’s a person I want to learn from.”

Pomel ended up investing. So did Sequoia. Now the startup has over 50 clients, including Verizon and Wayfair.

Last year, MongoDB announced a venture fund. Pomel said he and other executives at Datadog have discussed following suit and establishing an investing arm.

“We want the ecosystem in which we hire to flourish, so we invest more around New York and France,” Pomel said.

Ittycheria has had a front-row seat to New York’s startup renaissance. He told CNBC in an email that when he founded server-automation company BladeLogic in 2001, he wanted to start it in New York but had to move it to the Boston area, “because New York lacked access to deep entrepreneurial talent.”

Then came MongoDB. By the time Ittycheria was named CEO of the database company in 2014, New York “was starting to see increasing venture activity, given the access to customers, talent and capital,” Ittycheria said. The company’s IPO three years later was a milestone, he added, because it was the city’s first infrastructure software company to go public.

The IPO, he said, showed the market that people can “build and scale deep tech companies in New York — not just in Silicon Valley.”

WATCH: MongoDB CEO Dev Ittycheria on Q2 results: Very pleased with how company is positioned for the future

MongoDB CEO Dev Ittycheria on Q2 results: Very pleased with how company is positioned for the future

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Apple CEO Tim Cook appears in New York to celebrate iPhone 15 release




Apple CEO Tim Cook appears in New York to celebrate iPhone 15 release

Apple CEO Tim Cook greets customers purchasing Apple’s new iPhone 15 during a launch event at the Fifth Avenue Apple Store on September 22, 2022 in New York City. 

Alexi Rosenfeld | Getty Images

Apple CEO Tim Cook opened the company’s Fifth Avenue store Friday in New York to celebrate the official release of the iPhone 15 lineup, the Apple Watch Series 9 and the Apple Watch Ultra 2.

Customers flocked to the store to get their hands on the new devices, and the line stretched around the corner of 58th Street from Fifth Avenue to Madison Avenue. One man told CNBC’s Steve Kovach that he had been waiting in line since 8 p.m. the night before. Cook unlocked the store and took selfies with people as they entered.

Apple announced its new devices at its annual launch event earlier this month, and preorders opened on Sept. 15. Analysts and investors are watching closely to see whether the new iPhones can reignite the global smartphone market, which is on track to hit a decade low this year, according to an August report from Counterpoint Research.

In a Thursday note, before the launch of the devices in stores, analysts at Bank of America wrote that ship dates for the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max models were extended but “somewhat lower” on average compared to the pre-order cycle last year.

Shares of Apple were up less than 1% Friday morning. The company did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

The new iPhone 15 lineup starts at $799 and features a USB-C charging port and a new titanium exterior. CNBC’s Kif Leswing tested the two new Pro iPhones, which start at $999 and $1,199, and found that the titanium is a “huge upgrade” because it makes the phone feel much lighter.

Customers can purchase the new devices at their nearest Apple Store or online.

iPhone 15 goes on sale: Apple CEO Tim Cook opens Fifth Avenue Apple store

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