"I think Silicon Valley does have an image problem," said Andrew Rasiej, a Manhattan-based civic and social entrepreneur who is responsible for the billboard. "I would prefer that people not refer to the entire tech industry as Silicon Valley."
The billboard is most visible when traveling northbound prior to the Palo Alto Avenue exit. While its main purpose is to encourage tech workers to consider a move to New York City, Rasiej says another one of his goals is to also spark conversation about the role of tech in our everyday lives.
Designed to resemble an iMessage conversation thread, Rasiej is using the billboard to push people to his website, WeWantYouIn.NYC, where he outlines the reasons why he believes the Big Apple is better suited for those who want to make a difference through tech.
"We believe the New York tech community is more inclusive and more focused on equity in terms of economic equity for everyone," said Rasiej.
Silicon Valley's shortcomings have been well-documented in recent years, but more companies are starting to tackle some of those issues. Despite the challenges, industry experts say the valley's start-up eco-system is still second to none for budding entrepreneurs.
"If they want to start a start-up, they have access to so many incubators and accelerators here," said Anu Basu, Ph.D, who serves as director of the Silicon Valley Center for Entrepreneurship at San Jose State University. "There are meet-ups and events that they can go to."
Start-up founder Ritvij Gautam of TryMyUI, Inc. is currently an entrepreneur-in-residence at SJSU. He says he's in no rush to move to New York City because of the relationships he has developed locally.
"The smartest and the brightest people of all kinds of fields are here," said Gautam. "They're constantly innovating to come up with the latest."
Rasiej declined to say how long the billboard would stay up, but says he's open to changing the messaging and imagery of the ad in the future, depending on the response he gets from the tech community.
Click here to learn more about Rasiej's efforts.