22 New Yorkers Over 50 Who Get I.T.

Posted by on Apr 29, 2014 in The Flack | 3 Comments

I recently caught up with an old friend and former client who’s steeped in the world of tech startups, digital media and information technology (IT). Neither my friend nor I are coders, but at 50 years+ apiece we can still hold our own when it comes to assessing, articulating and advancing the commercial prospects of the fledgling B-to-B and B-to-C companies we have advised over the years.

We laughed about our experiences at SXSW and other geek fests where our efforts to engage young tech entrepreneurs often were met with skepticism, then quick dismissal: “How could these 50-something wannabes possibly comprehend the bubblicious startup culture in which we so proudly reside?” While we thought: “If only they knew how much they don’t know.”

Days later the names of those who took our business cards invariably popped on our desktops and mobile devices asking to connect on LinkedIn or Facebook, or alerting us that we now have new followers on Twitter, Google+ or Quora.

As if youthful hubris couldn’t get any worse, here was the new issue of New York Magazine featuring “Mike the Ruler” on the cover. The caption read:

“He is 13. He is a fashion giant on Instagram.”

New York Mag Cover

New York Mag’s 13-Year-Old Cover Boy

Thirteen, huh???  It came with a video titled “Secret Shopping with Mike the Ruler.”  So tell me, what has Mike really accomplished other than racking up followers on Instagram? Does it merit a cover of New York Magazine for a story titled “The Weird Wide World of Internet Celebrity,” featuring other youthful “superfamous people you’ve never heard of?” (NYMag’s words, not mine.)

A few years ago, I DM’d a tech journalist friend at Business Insider suggesting that the site produce a round-up (listicle) of “50 Over 50 Who Get Tech” to counter the endless and arbitrary 30-under-30 lists that generate so much buzz in their respective industries. This 20-something reporter “absolutely loved” the idea, but couldn’t bring his myopic millennial mind to make it happen. So I thought I would.

Rather than 50 over 50, I found 20 New Yorkers of a certain age who may not have as many Instagram followers as Mike the Ruler, but whose digital savvy and career accomplishments hopefully will put in proper perspective the media’s youth obsession.

Featured in alphabetical order (with linked photos) are: John Abell, Brian Bedol, David Carr, Brian S. Cohen, Esther Dyson, Richard Edelman, Eric Hippeau, Arianna Huffington, Ken Lerer, Rebecca Lieb, Jeff Jarvis, Andrew Rasiej, Jim Roberts, David Rose, Jay Rosen, Randall Rothenberg, Vivian Schiller, Micah Sifry, Margaret Sullivan, Laurel Touby, Fred Wilson and Dave Winer. (Finally, I welcome hearing about more New York women and people of color so I may more equitably expand the list.)

John C. Abell, senior editor, LinkedIn, ex-@Wired

John C. Abell, senior editor, LinkedIn, ex-@Wired

Brian Bedol, founder/CEO, Bedrocket; Founder of Classic Sports Network and College Sports Television (Photo: Wikipedia)

Brian Bedol, founder/CEO, Bedrocket; Founder of Classic Sports Network and College Sports Television (Photo: Wikipedia)

David Carr, media and culture columnist for The New York Times (Photo: The New York Times)

David Carr, media and culture columnist for The New York Times (Photo: The New York Times)

Professional Angel Investor; New York Angels., Founder, Technology Solutions

Brian S. Cohen, Professional Angel Investor; New York Angels; Founder, Technology Solutions

Esther Dyson, Founder, EdVentures, Pioneering tech Evangelist (Photo: Patricia Martin)

Esther Dyson, Founder, EdVentures; Pioneering tech evangelist (Photo: Patricia Martin)

Richard Edelman, president/CEO, Edelman Worldwide

Richard Edelman, president/CEO, Edelman Worldwide

Eric Hippeau, partner at Lerer Ventures: Former CEO, Huffington Post; Softbank; Ziff-Davis Publishing...

Eric Hippeau, partner at Lerer Ventures: Former CEO, Huffington Post; Softbank; Ziff-Davis Publishing…

Arianna Huffington, President/Editor-in-Chief, Huffington Post; Author, Thrive... (Photograph MARCUS YAM)

Arianna Huffington, President/Editor-in-Chief, Huffington Post; Author, Thrive… (Photograph Marcus Yam)

Jeff Jarvis, journalist and author; Co-host of This Week in Google; Penned "What Would Google Do," Time Inc. and TV Guide veteran

Jeff Jarvis, journalist and author; Co-host of This Week in Google; Penned “What Would Google Do,” Time Inc. and TV Guide veteran

Ken Lerer, managing director, Lerer Ventures; Co-founder, Huffington Post, and Chairman of Betaworks and BuzzFeed. (Photo: PBS)

Ken Lerer, managing director, Lerer Ventures; Co-founder, Huffington Post, and Chairman of Betaworks and BuzzFeed. (Photo: PBS)

lieb-rebecca

Rebecca Lieb, digital advertising and media analyst, Altimeter Group: Author and speaker.

Andrew Rasiej, futurist, social entrepreneur, and Founder of Personal Democracy Media; Chairman, New York Tech Meetup; Technical Advisor, Sunlight Foundation...

Andrew Rasiej, futurist, social entrepreneur, and Founder of Personal Democracy Media; Chairman, New York Tech Meetup; Technical Advisor, Sunlight Foundation…

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Jim Roberts, executive editor/chief content officer, Mashable; Formerly Reuters & The New York Times (Photo: Twitter)

David S. Rose, managing partner, Rose Tech Ventures; Founder, New York Angels

David S. Rose, managing partner, Rose Tech Ventures; Founder, New York Angels

Jay Rosen, media critic and journalism professor, NYU; Advisor to Pierre Omidyar's First Look Media

Jay Rosen, media critic and journalism professor, NYU; Advisor to Pierre Omidyar’s First Look Media

Randall Rothenberg, CEO< Interactive Advertising Bureau; Formerly Booz Allen and The New York Times (Photo: IAB)

Randall Rothenberg, CEO, Interactive Advertising Bureau; Formerly Booz Allen and The New York Times (Photo: IAB)

Vivian Schiller, head of news and journalism partnerships, Twitter; Formerly NBC Universal, NPR and The New York Times.

Vivian Schiller, head of news and journalism partnerships, Twitter; Formerly NBC Universal, NPR and The New York Times.

Micah Sifry, co-founder, Personal Democracy Media; Advisor, Sunlight Foundation...

Micah Sifry, co-founder, Personal Democracy Media; Advisor, Sunlight Foundation…

Margaret Sullivan, the fifth Public Editor for The New York Times; Formerly managing editor, Buffalo News...

Margaret Sullivan, the fifth Public Editor for The New York Times; Formerly managing editor, Buffalo News…

Laurel Touby, founder. MediaBistro; Startup advisor/investor

Laurel Touby, founder. MediaBistro; Startup advisor/investor

Fred Wilson, co-founder of Union Square Ventures, investor in  Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare, Zynga, Kickstarter, and 10gen. (Photo: Crains)

Fred Wilson, NYC-based VC, co-founder of Union Square Ventures, investor in Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare, Zynga, Kickstarter, and 10gen.

Dave Winer, software developer, entrepreneur, writer, current visiting scholar at New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute... (Photo: Joi Ito)

Dave Winer, software developer, entrepreneur, writer, current visiting scholar at NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute… (Photo: Joi Ito)

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  3. M. Kern
    May 30, 2014

    An excellent point made well. There is less and less of a “Great Divide” of those with and without deep digital expertise in a media world that is evolving so quickly that no one is ever fully up-to-speed. The rapid pace of innovation keeps everyone on a continuous learning curve. The ages of the individuals listed are irrelevant. It is their experience, their willingness to embrace new ideas and their capacities to grasp the big picture and context — which does not separate “traditional” from “new” media, but rather capitalizes on the lessons and opportunities of both. We are all in a magnificent and maddening whirlwind transition. The keys to success are by no means held only by those for whom digital technology and media are a first and only language.

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