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NYC tech businesses struggling to resume post-Sandy

Fab.com, Quidsi, and Gawker are just some of the businesses feeling the crunch

Financial trends and news by Faith Merino
October 31, 2012 | Comments
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/2b57

Hurricane Sandy might be over, but she (it's a girl hurricane) has left a trail of destruction in her wake.  Atlantic City and Manhattan are underwater and millions are still without power.  

Every year, we hear stories of crazy weather that destroyed whole towns, displaced countless families, and wreaked general havoc.  There was the Joplin tornado, the tsunami in Japan, the earthquake in Haiti, and, of course, Katrina.

This one strikes a decidedly different tone, however.  It’s not the usual narrative of communities being ripped apart, but rather industry that’s been all but frozen to a standstill.  New York City alone generates some $2.5 trillion a year (compared to the U.S. economy as a whole, which generates some $13 trillion a year).  A natural disaster of this sort--with flooded subways and a shuttered Wall Street--is going to deal a huge economic blow to the NYC metro area--to the tune of $20 billion, economists estimate.

Silicon Valley may be the seat of the technology industry, but NYC has been nurturing a growing tech community that’s feeling the effects of Hurricane Sandy.

Yesterday, Fab.com CEO Jason Goldberg sent out an email Tuesday afternoon to let Fab members know that the company, which is headquartered in the West Village, was suspending shipments since its two warehouses in New Jersey were without power.  Goldberg reassured customers that fulfillment would be back up and running as soon as possible, and that Fab is still planning on launching its Holiday Shops on November 1.  But since more than a third of Fab’s 650 employees work at its NYC headquarters and are currently sans power, the situation is touch-and-go.

Quidsi, another e-commerce titan that runs some of the most well-known sites among parents and families—Diapers.com, YoYo.com, Wag.com, BeautyBar.com, and Soap.com, among others.  Quidsi is also headquartered smack-dab in the middle of the Sandy nightmare in Jersey City, New Jersey.  Today, the company’s network of sites is down, including its flagship site Diapers.com.  Quidsi’s Yoyo.com sent out an email to customers Tuesday night apologizing for delays in shipments in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy.

Lucky for Quidsi, its fulfillment centers are (mostly) outside of the danger zone.  The company has three fulfillment centers in Nevada, Kansas, and Pennsylvania—which has actually suffered quite a bit of damage, including nine deaths altogether.  

What’s particularly unusual about this hurricane situation is the effects that it’s having across the country.  As the Fab.com and Quidsi examples demonstrate, New York City is a major hub of industry that services the entire country.  In other words, East Coast-dwellers are not the only ones feeling the effects of Hurricane Sandy.  Everyone who shops online at Fab.com or any one of Quidsi’s sites are feeling the impact. 

Commerce isn’t the only industry feeling the effects of Sandy—a number of media sites have been affected as well, including the Gawker family of sites.  My personal favorite, Jezebel—the irreverent feminist blog that routinely talks me off the ledge when I become blind with rage at the economic injustices of being a woman and mother in America—is dead.  Well, not entirely dead—the servers are down, but the site has created a “Post-Hurricane Emergency Blog.”  It’s not the same, but it will get me through the next few days. 

Our techy brethren on the East Coast are in our thoughts this week, and we hope everyone is staying safe and cozy indoors with lots of booze.

 

Image source: telegraph.co.uk


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