Press-Republican

FYI...

July 2, 2013

Did this man really just become New York City's first tech billionaire?

When you think of New York City's burgeoning startup scene, you might think of trendy social-media companies like Foursquare or Tumblr or e-commerce sites like Gilt Groupe. You might think of the Brooklyn-based startups that are helping to forge the new DIY economy, like MakerBot, Etsy and Kickstarter. A couple of those startups - Tumblr and MakerBot - recently sold for huge sums. A couple of others could be in line for substantial IPOs.

But none, according to Bloomberg News, can lay claim to producing Silicon Alley's first billionaire. That honor, Bloomberg asserts, went last week to a far less flashy name: Shutterstock, the stock-photography site whose licensed images adorn millions of ads and hastily composed blog posts across the Web, including some on Slate. The company went public in October and has seen its shares soar. Late last week, founder Jonathan Oringer's 55-percent stake in the company was valued at $1 billion. Citing RBC Capital Markets analyst Andre Sequin, Bloomberg declared Oringer "the first billionaire to be created in Silicon Alley."

If true, that's a significant landmark in the growth of a scene that is fast surpassing Boston as the nation's second-largest tech hub. But how do we know Oringer is really the first?

I called Sequin to find out. He told me he was a little surprised that Bloomberg had him making the claim quite so definitively. Sequin clarified to me that Oringer is the scene's first billionaire founder "as far as I know." He added that he "couldn't come up with anyone else" who meets the criteria: a New York tech or new-media startup founder who owns enough of a company that his own share translates to $1 billion or more upon exit (or on the stock market, if the company has gone public).

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