Mayor Michael Bloomberg sat on a stage as the university’s president John Hennessey spoke to the students, urging them to hold the values they learned. He said in a live video webcast that universities “must be bold as they contemplate the future and opportunities.
“The balancing of old and new, the innovative and traditional is a challenge that universities have faced for hundreds of years, and has been a theme in the speeches of many of my predecessors.”
This led well into Bloomberg’s speech, as he told the students that without Stanford University “there is no Silicon Valley.”
He continued, “And without Silicon Valley, there is no tech revolution, no information revolution, no communications revolution—at least not as we know it.”
Bloomberg referenced Leland Stanford, the university’s founder, noting that he was a pioneer who followed the Gold Rush to California. He said it is only fitting that young people are now moving to New York City to “be a part of the tech boom.”
Bloomberg shared his hopes that the students would go to NYC’s “Silicon Alley,” (a term referring to NYC’s emerging as a technology center similar to Silicon Valley) and be daring in their work. He urged them to be disruptive, noting that companies, governments, unions, and schools “tend not to like disruptions to their business models.”
In February, Bloomberg launched the “We Are Made in NYC” initiative to help technology startups with resources and programs. This was part of similar initiatives to turn NYC into the “second Silicon Valley,” and help build local economies outside the finance industry.
“Technological disruption drives innovation. And the more disruption there is, the better markets perform and the harder it is for monopolies to survive,” Bloomberg said.
“The idea that you can find a way to do something better, faster, and cheaper has driven American innovation for centuries,” he said, “And the freedom to pursue those innovations is part of the American dream.”