The technology sector in New York City flourished in 2011. Not only did funding dollars pour into young companies, but business leaders partnered with young companies more than ever. There was a real sense of respect and cooperation, Brian Cohen, chairman of the New York Angels, a group of investors, told International Business Times in an interview about the state of Silicon Alley, the nickname for New York's group of fledgling tech companies.
Where does that collaboration leave New York City technology heading into 2012?
Companies to watch in 2012:
Fab.com, the design sales site, raised $40 million in Series B funding in December. The money came only six months after the site switched to selling design merchandise. The site had previously been hosting a social network for the gay community. The business model shift has paid off, and with the extra money, expect Fab to continue growing user numbers and brand recognition.
Zipmark, an online and mobile payments platform, also received funding late in the year. In mid-December, the company received $2 million of seed funding. Zipmark is described as a digital checkbook, allowing people to send money over the Internet. Though the model has been created before in platforms like Paypal, investors apparently think there's room for another company to wedge itself into the business sector. Watch Zipmark for more partnerships and new innovations in mobile.
Style for Hire, a personal-stylist startup, collected nearly $1.1 million in seed funding earlier in 2011. The company was founded by Stacy London, host of the TLC show What Not To Wear. Style for Hire has grown tenfold in more than 15 states according to a press release. Celebrities have an advantage over most young entrepreneurs because they're instantly recognizable. Watch Style for Hire to see if London's success continues into 2012.
Tumblr, the popular blogging platform, received $85 million of unattributed funding in September from top-tier investors including Greylock and Sir Richard Branson. In June, Tumblr surpassed WordPress as the most popular blogging platform. Tumblr now has well over 20 million blogs, and expects that number to continue growing in 2012. In the world of personal blogging, Tumblr has quickly become the go-to platform.
Jun Group, an online video advertising specialist, generated $2.5 million in unattributed funding in December. Jun Group has worked with dozens of large brands including BP, Disney, HBO, NBC, MSN, Subway, ESPN, CBS, Dodge, Hanes, Wal-mart Stores and more. Jun Group has already become a respected source in social video creation, so expect it to do much more in 2012.
Foursquare, the geo-locational gaming platform, closed $50 million of funding in June. The company had 10 million users as of June, still significantly below powerhouses Facebook and Google, which also have geo-locational platforms and hundreds of millions tied into their social platforms. Foursquare was an early adopter of geo-locational social media. Expect the company to look for new ways to get users engaged in 2012.
Refinery29, the fashion blog and sales site, collected $4.5 million in Series A funding in July. The company had been bootstrapped since its launch in the summer of 2006. The company is already highlighting six U.S. cities and has hopes to expand further. Expect Refinery29 to keep making buzz, especially with the increasing expansion of its Reserve store.
Boxee, the open-source freeware media player, raised $16.5 million in March. The service was originally developed as a hacker tool for the Xbox, originally named Xbox Media Center. The software was so popular it was eventually released for PCs and is one of the most popular media center platforms in the U.S. As more homes begin to adopt the media center as a living room device, expect Boxee to become an even greater force.
Gilt Groupe, the upscale flash sales site, recently broke the record for revenue generated by a Silicon Alley company, founder Kevin Ryan told International Business Times in an interview. The company is rumored to be gearing up for an IPO, but no confirmation has been made. Whether or not it goes public, expect Gilt Groupe's buzz to continue to skyrocket.