At TechCrunch Disrupt 2013 NY today, Tumblr founder David Karp and Sequoia partner Roelof Botha took the stage with TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington to discuss Tumblr’s history, the relationship between Karp as an entrepreneur and Botha as his investor and why New York is such a great city for a startup. The discussion really only got heated once Arrington started asking about New York, though.
Karp clearly doesn’t have much love for Silicon Valley. He noted how University Avenue is perfectly pleasant and “smells great,” but he also feels he can’t be there for more than a few days. In New York, he said, at least “not everyone you run into is wearing a fucking Dropbox or Airbnb Shirt.” In New York, he believes, people can still appreciate a good idea from the users’ perspective and – because not everybody already works for a startup – from a startup perspective.
Asked why that’s the case, Botha argued that New York has a real advantage because it is “one of the densest urban environments in the U.S. If you are in Mountain View, you don’t resonate with the needs of urban dwellers,” he said – and the demographics are shifting toward these dense environments. “Tumblr couldn’t have emerged in Sunnyvale,” Botha noted, though he sadly didn’t quite explain what exactly it is that makes Tumblr a service for the urban jungle of New York.
Karp – always the optimist – believes that Tumblr can be an iconic New York startup and play the role Amazon and Microsoft currently play in Seattle and that some of the early Silicon Valley companies obviously played for the whole Bay Area ecosystem.
(Disclosure: CrunchFund has invested in Tumblr)