Good morning. It’s Tuesday. Technology is booming in Brooklyn. We’ll look at two big-money infusions there for entrepreneurs and technology. We will also meet a prosecutor with a history of hiring Donald Trump to join the Manhattan district attorney’s office.
Brooklyn, which has surpassed the rest of the city in adding tech jobs and is home to tech-driven companies like Etsy and Kickstarter, is raking in more money for research, development, and innovation — and much of it comes from the owners of the Brooklyn nets.
This week, BK-XL, a Brooklyn-based early-stage accelerator for companies founded by minority entrepreneurs, began submitting applications for investments of as much as $500,000. BK-XL was founded by Clara Wu Tsai, a philanthropist who co-owns Barclays Center and the Nets with her husband, Joseph Tsai. She said she “envisioned an entrepreneurial center that will be inspired and driven by location and diversity, just like Brooklyn itself.”
BK-XL is considering applications until Jan. 20 before choosing 12 companies to receive initial investments of $125,000 each, in exchange for a 7 percent equity stake. The companies are also eligible for additional investments of $375,000 each if they stay in Brooklyn for at least a year and meet their growth goals.
“When we think about the economic landscape and the opportunity to support BIPOC founders, Brooklyn is a great place to do that,” said Daniel Acheampong, co-founder and general partner of Visible Hands, a venture capital firm that partnered with the Tsais’ Fund for Social Justice in BK-XL. She and her husband. Joseph Tsai, co-founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, also owns the New York Liberty basketball team.
“Just in numbers, the black community makes up 22 percent of the city’s population, but only 3 and a half percent of New York City’s businesses are owned by black entrepreneurs,” Acheampong said. “This shows that there is a gap where we should be investing in BIPOC projects.”
BK-XL says the talent pool of people of color in the technology sector is stronger in New York than in other major markets. It says black and Hispanic workers make up 21 percent of the city’s tech workers, more than double the share in the San Francisco Bay Area or in Boston.
But Acheampong said few minority entrepreneurs starting businesses get help from accelerator programs, which typically provide funding and mentoring for startups for certain time periods. Clara Tsai said Brooklyn “usually lacked the kind of institutional investment needed to build a community of successful enterprise-backed businesses, especially in communities of color.”
BK-XL will have office space in Industry City, the 16-building complex in Sunset Park where new tech and biotech companies are located. The 12 companies will also be given space there during a 10-week empathy program with BK-XL, which can help the entrepreneurs to make connections for future business.
$1 billion for NYU technical school
Industry City is a few miles from 3 MetroTech Center, the 10-story building in downtown Brooklyn that New York University purchased in September for the Tandon School of Engineering. Last week, NYU said it planned to invest $1 billion in NYU Tandon to improve its standing against competitors and raise the city’s profile in the technology sector.
The $1 billion includes $600 million already planned for NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering and another $400 million in new funds. The money will go toward revamping labs and student spaces at NYU Tandon and expanding its focus on cybersecurity, wireless technology, and artificial intelligence. NYU also plans to hire 40 tenure-track faculty members.
The result will be an upgraded campus that, according to Jelena Kovacevic, NYU Tandon’s dean, “would love to be a candy store for adults.”
But my colleague Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura writes that an education at NYU Tandon may be out of reach for many New Yorkers. The total cost of on-campus student participation exceeds $83,000 per year. Lower-income students typically pay less because of financial aid — about $23,000 in the 2020-21 school year, according to federal data.
That’s more than double what the lowest-income students pay at Columbia University, taking into account financial aid, according to the federal College Navigator site. At CUNY’s College of Technology, the total price for in-state students was nearly $26,000, but with financial aid, the out-of-pocket amount dropped to less than $2,500 for the lowest-income students.
Expect cloudy skies, occasional rain, and above-average temperatures today, with a high in the mid-50s. Temps won’t drop much tonight.
ALTERNATIVE SIDE PARKING
Effective until Thursday (Immaculate Conception).
The latest New York news
The official, Matthew Colangelo, 48, also worked on the separate but parallel investigation of Trump by New York State Attorney General Letitia James.
His arrival in Bragg’s office came as jurors began deliberating in a separate case brought by Bragg’s office.
They returned to the courtroom only once, to hear Judge Juan Merchan repeat his instructions on one of 17 cases facing the Trump Organization. They weigh in on whether actions by Trump Organization executives — specifically the company’s longtime chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg — implicate the company itself.
The judge told the jury on Monday that the prosecution must have successfully proven that Weisselberg intended to help the company when he arranged perks for himself, including a rental apartment, cable TV and luxury cars.
Colangelo’s arrival marks the latest twist in a long-running investigation that began before Bragg took office in January. His predecessor, Cyrus Vance Jr., had ordered prosecutors to present evidence to a grand jury to show that Trump illegally inflated the value of his assets. Bragg was concerned about the strength of the case, and when he told the two prosecutors leading the investigation that he was not ready to approve charges, they stopped.
That seemed to cloud the future of the investigation, though Bragg said it continued. In recent months, his accusers have returned to a hush money payment to a porn star who said she had an affair with Trump.
An owl on West 81st
Metropolitan Diary is the place to be for stories by and for New Yorkers. Now we ask for your help in choosing the best diary entry of the year. Voting closes December 19 at midnight.
My husband and I were on West 81st Street on an unusually warm fall evening. A group of us had gathered in front of the Excelsior Hotel around a tiny little owl looking up from the sidewalk with otherworldly eyes.
A man told people not to step on the owl, while a woman diverted those who approached with dogs. It appeared to be a baby, although it had no baby fluff. His little feathers were slender and mature. It was definitely injured and unable to fly.
We all had our phones handy, took pictures of the bird, and searched the internet for bird rescue groups. Eventually, someone reached the shelter operator and was told to take the owl to an office on the East Side, where he would receive proper care.
“I have a box in my apartment,” said one man.
“No,” said another, “I think I have a bag you can use.”
The sense of camaraderie was palpable.
“I’m used to handling wild animals,” said an elegantly dressed elderly woman who wore gloves despite the heat of the evening.
She bent down to pick up the owl, which seemed calm and quite interested in the group that had gathered. It freely turned its head to take in all of us.
When the woman reached for the owl, it screeched loudly, spread its little wings and flew into the nearest tree.
An impromptu cheer erupted as we ran to the tree to make sure our little friend was really okay. By the time we got there it had flown into the night.
Illustrated by Agnes Lee. Send submissions here and read more Metropolitan Diary here.
Glad we could get together here. See you tomorrow. — JB
PS Here’s today’s Mini crossword and Game match. You can find all our puzzles here.
Melissa Guerrero, Morgan Malget and Ed Shanahan contributed to New York Today. You can reach the team at nytoday..
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