It was nearly three years ago to the month that South Park Commons held its first event in New York City to explore the intersection of Art and Machine Learning. We gathered with friends to witness demos from Philipp Schmitt and Helena Sarin, digest technical talks on ML with Professor Hod Lipson and Gene Kogan, and learn about new ventures in those spaces started by Joe Reisinger and Cristobal Valenzuela. That event brought together a diverse group of creatives and technologists, dreamers and doers, in a way that only New York City can. The magic of the event was captivating. And that magic is the reason why South Park Commons is officially launching in New York City.
A lot has changed at SPC over the last three years. The pandemic shuttered our community space on South Park and prompted over a third of our members to leave San Francisco. The neighborhood that gave our community its name was no longer the center of gravity. Yet the underlying philosophy of SPC remained the same: the best ideas cannot start in isolation. They require a collective—a group that inspires you intellectually, supports you emotionally, and challenges you to push the frontier of possibility with your next idea. When our members moved across the country and the world during the pandemic, they brought that philosophy with them and shared it with new friends and colleagues. We quickly discovered that the core beliefs of SPC resonated broadly and, for the first time, we took the leap and began accepting new members outside of San Francisco.
As our founding member Ruchi put it recently, the enthusiasm of builders is one of the most consistent and powerful signals of new opportunity. When our members organically gravitate to a new area or sector, we pay close attention. Although Miami and Austin received most of the Twitter hype in late 2020, we noticed that New York City was the top choice for SPC members looking for a new homebase. Members like Jackie, Cinjon, Aaron and others were quickly finding (and building) their own clusters of curious and entrepreneurial folks in the city. Our members had become evangelists, and the builders they met responded to the SPC mindset. Before we knew it, our membership committee was meeting several NYC-based applicants each month.
Perhaps it’s unsurprising that New York emerged as the second hub of South Park Commons. The city became home to many new companies, funds, and entrepreneurs over the last two years. It occupies a unique position at the nexus of culture, technology, and business, where optimistic creatives, technologists, and builders have gathered together for centuries. The city is removed from the constraints of the traditional Silicon Valley ecosystem—a distance and freedom we are intrigued to explore. Our initial set of NYC members have already empowered immigrants with financial tools (Comun, Abiel and Andres), created a program to help formerly incarcerated people build credit (FinEQUITY, Brianne), built a B2B bank account for crypto (Starlight, Ben and Grey), and more.
Importantly, we don’t expect that culture to perfectly align with SPC SF; we want SPC NYC to feel distinct. But we will remain united across all SPC geographies by a shared passion for exploration. It’s the reason why members feel at home when they travel 3,000 miles across the country to meet and collaborate with those on the other coast. We’re one community with three hubs — SF, NYC, and Remote.
Now that we are 35+ members strong in NYC, we’re excited to double down and open our second community space at 650 Broadway in NoHo for the SPC NYC community. This marks an exciting new chapter for our members and friends in New York City. We hope that our community space becomes a home for explorers to meet, challenge each other, and surpass their limits together. To celebrate the launch of SPC NYC, we will be hosting an IRL event series over the coming months. Please leave your info here if you are interested in dropping by. We’d love to see you!
Here’s a quick overview of the events that we have coming up:
- On Thursday, April 14th, we're delighted to host Randi Zuckerberg for a fireside chat. Randi’s unique background puts her at the forefront of both technology and the arts, taking us back to the same themes as our 2019 Art and ML talk. As an early employee at Facebook and the creator of Facebook Live, she was on the front lines of shaping Web 2.0 technology. She is also an accomplished artist who has performed on Broadway, winning three Tony awards for producing Broadway shows. Now she is putting these two worlds together in web3 by building HUG, a platform to support NFT creators and buyers.
- On Thursday, May 5th, we will be hosting Fred Wilson for a fireside chat. Fred is the co-founder of Union Square Ventures and an icon of tech in New York City. He has frequently inspired us with his musings on crypto, venture capital, and, of course, the Big Apple. In addition to his role with USV, Fred is Chairman of the NYC Department of Education’s CS4All Capital Campaign and is co-Chairman of Tech:NYC.
Stay tuned for additional events over the next few weeks and don’t forget to sign up if you want to join as a guest.
We are looking forward to welcoming you to SPC NYC!