It was a Tuesday morning deep in Lower Manhattan, steps away from the World Trade Center and City Hall. While suits swarmed the sidewalks on their way to offices in the sky, we made our way to LMHQ, which hosts events and allows space for coworking.
Fellow startup folks filled the main room, chatting, exchanging cards, drinking coffee, and taking pictures of the whiteboard art. It seemed exactly like the kind of place where Techweek New York would kick off, with none-other than a CTO as the featured speaker. But this wasn’t the kind of CTO the startup crowd is used to hearing — it was Minerva Tantoco, the very first CTO for the government of the City of New York.
Tantoco, who comes from a 30-year career in tech and has worked everywhere from Queens, where she grew up, to California and Asia, was there to discuss her first year as CTO of the city of New York. The chat was moderated by Jordan Crook, a TechCrunch Journalist, and Jessica Lawrence, the executive director for New York Tech Meetup (which is the largest meetup in the world).
In her role as the CTO of NYC, it’s Tantoco’s job to combat the old idea that “technology is fast, but government is slow.” To do this, Tantoco focuses on managing risk and innovation while devising a cutting-edge tech strategy for the city.
Tantoco described two education initiatives that have helped the city develop its burgeoning tech sector, Computer Science for All and the Tech Talent Pipeline. “Technology is the future of New York City,” she said. “If we don’t teach our public school kids who need it the most we are going to leave them stranded in the digital divide.”
Tantoco believes that these new initiatives will establish New York City as a hub for talent, which will attract more companies and funding.
New York City already has a thriving tech scene, and Tantoco wants to make it even stronger.“I get the most inspired at local hackathons,” Tantoco said, “my goal is to create an open space where anyone can do this. You can even invent your job—that’s what I did.”
Tantoco ended her talk saying, “We are going to be a tech sector with a heart as big as the city of New York.” We, for one, are betting on it.