Speeches And Boos: What You Missed At New York Tech Meetup

Last night’s New York Tech Meetup was small by the 15,000-member strong organization’s standards, and it wasn’t at the usual venue.

That’s because last night was not the usual New York Tech Meetup, a monthly event in which six people get five minutes each to demonstrate a cool project to New York’s tech community. Last month, a Google engineer spoke about the image recognition technology Google Goggles. Foursquare and Tumblr both demo’ed back in the day at NYTM, which usually happens at NYU’s Skirball Center in Washington Square, but last night was held at W. 50th street.

NYTM is in transition. The organization incorporated and registered as a 501c6, the tax-free status for “business leagues,” which includes chambers of commerce and trade organizations, and is adding an eventual total of four community members to its governing board.

Two of those spots are up for election and 16 candidates–lawyers, entrepreneurs, coders and professors–gave two-minute stump speeches last night in between demos. See our roundup of all the NYTM candidates.

SLIDESHOW: Meet the Candidates Running for NY Tech Meetup’s Board >>

The political proceedings were confusing for members of the audience who hadn’t heard about the election and were just there to see some nifty demos. Luckily a few startups were around to share their stories:

The travel discovery site Wanderfly had the slickest design, an app for syncing your music library across devices got the most audience excitement and the employee-review app ClearGears had the most obvious business model.

But NTYM is not about monetization. One audience member asked about the business model for Marco, the app that lets you find nearby friends using SMS, and the rest of the audience immediately started booing. “Are you serious?” presenter Tarikh Korula said.

NYTM director and emcee Nate Westheimer, moving things along, told the questioner to “Google business models and New York Tech Meetup.” That search leads to an Economist article about NYTM etiquette, which excludes boring questions about business models, how to reach a critical mass of users, and money.

“Historically, we boo that question,” said Westheimer. 

ajeffries [at] observer.com | @adrjeffries

Speeches And Boos: What You Missed At New York Tech Meetup