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NY E-Commerce Startups Ponder a Future With Amazon “HQ2” in Backyard

As Amazon moves into its new home in the Big Apple, the company will find itself immersed in a storied—if tumultuous—local retail industry. Unlike the other contenders for Amazon’s so-called “HQ2” satellite offices, New York City is home to the nation’s historical retail roots on “Fashion Avenue,” as well as a growing e-commerce startup scene. Although some observers argue that Amazon has spawned a surprising lack of fast-growing startups in its hometown of Seattle, leaders in New York’s tech community are hopeful the tech giant’s plans to significantly expand its presence here will have a positive influence on the local scene.

For one, it could provide a huge training ground for innovation, says Pano Anthos, managing director of XRC Labs, a retail tech accelerator in New York. “Amazon employees are going to say, ‘I see a gap in the market, and I want to start something,’” he says. “They will have inside perspective on logistics, user experience, and artificial intelligence, and they will give rise to opportunities that we wouldn’t have had access to.”

Earlier this month, Amazon selected Long Island City in Queens, N.Y., as well as suburban Washington, D.C., to house its additional “headquarters.” The East Coast locations were tapped after a 14-month frenzy among regional communities in North America that offered billions in economic incentives to lure Amazon.  Amazon says it plans to invest a total of $5 billion in the two outposts and expects each to employ 25,000 high-paid professionals. “This is bringing more attention to New York as a fashion tech hub,” says Michelle Bacharach, founder and CEO of FindMine.

New York is home to about 7,000 tech startups and has the most “unicorn” companies in the nation after Silicon Valley, according to Startup Genome’s 2018 report. The city’s innovation ecosystem has grown from about $2.3 billion invested in startups in 2012 to about $13 billion in funding in 2017, the report added.

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