The epicenter of the web, and NYC

One of my apprehensions in moving to New York from San Francisco was a common concern: why would I move from the ‘epicenter’ of the web to a place where it’s not? There’s been lots written about startup hub cities, and innovative web metro areas, but the fact of the matter is that New York hasn’t historically been a hotbed of web growth and innovation. Not compared to the Bay Area or Seattle, anyway.

I do, of course, think this is changing as of recently. The punch line is that I obviously did take the job, despite my misgivings about not being surrounded by people who are constantly thinking about my industry. One of the reasons I got over not being in the ‘epicenter’ is that Fred Wilson and Albert Wenger did an insanely good job at convincing me it was a good idea. 🙂 Another reason is that I think Etsy is basically a Bay Area company that just happens to be in Brooklyn. I mean that as a compliment.

So while I always had some inkling of what ‘epicenter of the web’ means, I was never really sure how that could be measured. has indirectly measured it by the # of job listings.  O’Reilly did something similar for the # of startup jobs in 2006.

Number of jobs is interesting, but I thought it might be fun to measure it by locations of headquarters as seen through the lens of monthly unique users. So, I took the Quantcast “Top 100” sites, found the latitude and longitude of the headquarters of each site via Crunchbase’s API, as well as other bits around the web, and Aaron helped out with the excellent Modest Maps to make this:

Quantcast Top 100 plotted on U.S. Map, radius = monthly uniques

Quantcast Top 100 plotted on U.S. Map, radius = monthly uniques

Like I said, this doesn’t change my thoughts about the new job, or what I think ‘epicenter of the web’ means. But, still interesting, dontcha think?

UPDATE: Here’s a link to the raw data:

If there’s anything wrong, lemme know. 🙂


  1. shanan   •  

    SF, NY, LA, SEA or… Atlanta. I think you did ok with brooklyn.

  2. Ben Hyde   •  

    The lit. on industry hubs doesn’t really talk much about cities that host more than a single hub. Part of NYC’s delight is the number of hubs it hosts. In the valley you always know what to talk about, since to a large extent there is only one industry. It’s such a time saver :). I’ve joked that the valley is the most diverse place I’ve ever worked, but yet it’s such a damn industrial monoculture.

    That’s a fun map. Thanks.

    But, it would tell a very different story if you rolled up all firms within 50 miles of each other. At that point the bay area would blow out all the others. Speaking of rollup, it’s nice to work in your industry’s hub, it is awful to work in a company town.

  3. femmebot   •  

    What do the colors represent (if anything)?

  4. allspaw   •     Author

    The colors are basically differentiators which make for a pretty viz. 🙂

  5. Tara   •  

    Where do the blue and pink dots on the edge of Kansas and Oklahoma correspond to? 🙂

  6. Nabeel Hyatt   •  

    Hmmm.. kinda fun to filter in with everything else. But why does the Top 100 matter? Especially when many of them are extensions of large offline corporations (Cnn,,,, that most startup folks wouldn’t be interested in at all.

    I guess if you care about working on fun scalability engineering problems then that would be a great list. Or perhaps if you want to start a company and be able to recruit from a large company.

    But anyway, fun to see — although the Northeast is hard to separate and discern. Good luck in New York!

  7. John McCarthy   •  

    Good choice. Glad you listened to Fred, Albert and Chad

  8. Tyler Stalder   •  

    Interesting map, the most surprising part for me are the circles in the midwest. Could you post your final data set or a key for the map? I’d particularly like to look up the sites listed in Kansas.

  9. Karl Katzke   •  

    Agreed about data — I’m curious. Notable missing places: Portland, OR; Austin, TX; I realize that the dots in Colorado should be for Boulder, but they’re misplaced; Atlanta seems to be over-represented.

  10. allspaw   •     Author

    I added a link to the raw data up above…if there’s anything weird, let me know. 🙂

  11. Pingback: The epicenter of the web, and NYC « elfgirl

  12. I see by the map that Ottawa is hardly the epicenter of the Web (no surprise), but is nevertheless on the map (big surprise there). Why not come to Ottawa, bring a few friends with you, and see if we can move the epicenter of the` Web.

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