NYC vs Silicon Valley for Tech?

NYC vs Silicon Valley for Tech?

Big Apple vs Bay Area

1 February 2024

In the ever-evolving landscape of the tech industry, two formidable contenders, New York City and Silicon Valley, have emerged as titans vying for supremacy. The San Francisco Bay Area, long heralded as the nucleus of the US technology sector and home to the Silicon Valley tech bros, boasts juggernauts like Facebook, Apple, Netflix, and Google, shaping it into a global tech powerhouse. Fifteen years ago, New York City was a mere afterthought in the tech conversation. However, a seismic shift has occurred, propelling the city to the second-highest performing startup ecosystem globally, closely rivalling its West Coast counterpart. 

Here, we put to the test how both cities stack up against each other in terms of job opportunities, skills alignment, salary structures, and other factors that define the tech experience in these iconic locations.

In-demand skills

Common threads weave through the tech tapestry of both cities, as proficiency in foundational areas like software development and cloud computing remain highly coveted.  However, if you take a closer look, nuances start to emerge, reflecting the unique industries that define each city. 

San Francisco, the venerable tech epicentre, displays heightened demands for skills in cutting-edge domains such as AI, machine learning, and blockchain. Meanwhile, New York, as the financial and cultural hub of the world, places a distinct emphasis on tech skills intersecting with finance, media, and e-commerce. 


Silicon Valley edges on salary

In the competitive landscape of tech salaries, the San Francisco Bay Area emerges as a financial heavyweight, offering a median software engineer salary of $233,000, surpassing New York City’s median of $179,500. 

The Bay Area’s unparalleled compensation levels are a direct reflection of its role as a magnet for some of the nation’s largest and highest-paying tech companies, strategically clustered along the bay between San Francisco and San Jose. 

However, it’s important to note that the cost of living in San Francisco is 5.4% higher than in New York. Fiercely competing for top-tier talent in an area renowned for its steep living costs, these tech giants drive a notable surge in salary expectations, particularly in cutting-edge fields like artificial intelligence. 

New York is a melting pot

In the perennial debate between New York and Silicon Valley for tech jobs, the diversity of New York’s professional landscape emerges as a defining advantage. Silicon Valley is a calling place for technologists but it is also an echo chamber. This insularity in Silicon Valley means that those in the industry may find themselves more susceptible to groupthink.

Unlike the singular tech-focused conversations ubiquitous in Silicon Valley, New York thrives as a melting pot of industries, encompassing finance, fashion, publishing, media, and advertising. The city’s startup ecosystem has flourished, intertwining tech with a myriad of other sectors. 

In New York, networking transcends the confines of tech-specific events; professionals from various fields mingle, offering a unique opportunity for cross-industry collaboration. The untapped talent pool, drawn by the city’s vibrant culture and diverse opportunities, contributes significantly to the city’s tech growth. 


For female founders

The diversity in New York’s population is proving advantageous for women entrepreneurs. Over recent years, women have taken the lead in establishing several prominent companies based in New York, such as theSkimm, ClassPass, and Birchbox.

Initiatives by female-led organisations like BBG Ventures and F3 Ventures aim to foster a thriving community of female-focused investments in the city. Although resources for women entrepreneurs are also available in Silicon Valley, research suggests that New York may be ahead in promoting female entrepreneurship.

According to a 2023 report by Dell, New York has been ranked as the second best city globally, ahead of the Bay Area and just behind London, for starting a female-led company, excelling in both capital availability and creating a supportive business environment.


Moonshot vs roofshot

When it comes to mindset, San Francisco’s dreamy and idealistic nature stands in contrast to New York’s crafty and practical approach. In Silicon Valley, the culture is all about experimentation, bold risks, and seeing failure as a valuable lesson. This mindset fuels the pursuit of ambitious moonshot projects, known for their high-risk nature. On the flip side, the New York mindset leans towards risk mitigation, reducing uncertainty, and maximising returns, placing a premium on trust and reliability. This inclination aligns more with roofshot projects, which offer more predictable economic outcomes but lower chances of extraordinary rewards. 

For those aiming to dream big without immediate economic constraints, heading west is advised. West coast founders are often seen as larger dreamers, prioritising ambitious goals over a grounded monetization plan. This difference is attributed to the overall atmosphere and business focus of Silicon Valley versus New York City, along with variations in capital availability. Valley tech companies focus on transforming global dynamics, while New York tech companies prioritise high returns through stable business models. 


The top spot for startups

In exciting news, Manhattan has overtaken San Francisco as the top spot for early-stage startups in the United States! According to data from Carta, a San Francisco equity management platform for startups, between March 2022 and March 2023, Manhattan had 543 companies securing seed or series A funding. In comparison, San Francisco had 486 companies achieving funding during the same period.

Tech leaders in New York City have been shouting about the city’s rise as the epicentre of the American tech scene for over a year, and these numbers back up their claims. The trend has become even more noticeable as the city bounces back from pandemic-related closures. Manhattan is clearly on the map as the go-to place for budding startups