Being an illustrated ramble through the last three days, which I spent in Manhattan talking about money. Some of the photos are the most painfully obvious clichés and to make it worse fuzzy and blurry too. Those adjectives might apply at least in part to the money business too.
First off, thanks to my friends and colleagues at Sun for setting this up (I seriously enjoy listening to customers), and I apologize to some other New York friends whom I’d have loved a beer or a coffee with but this particular schedule got very jammed very quickly.
The Biz · New York’s all about money, more and more so the further south you go in Manhattan. Just off Wall Street, something was reflecting light onto a building.
The bankers I was talking to were mostly those who aren’t feeling existentially threatened; but all of them have taken a beating. Over coffee and chit-chat, under my Sun hat, there was quite a bit of common feeling, sharing the experience of wild investor mood swings.
If Sun is lucky and smart, we have lots of growth opportunities. I doubt, though, that the finance business will regain its pre-crisis size for quite some time. But even in its diminished state, it’s very big and very strong and very rich. I can’t give you the details of who I talked to and what they’re up to, but damn, do these guys ever have serious data management problems.
We visited some people at one of the exchanges, and I walked away from that with my mind boggling at their traffic levels, and the number of rows they think it’s reasonable to write into a database in 6½ hours. Also, the view from the office was pretty compelling.
In the finance biz there are a very few, very central, balls-to-the-wall trading apps like those exchange guys were running, and they just don’t use computers like most people do. But actually, most of the programmers spend their time building, and most of the servers spend their time running, straightforward Web-fronted database-backed CRUD apps. And they’re under-using modern Web frameworks, still a lot of Java classic and .NET/ASP being ground out really inappropriately.
On this trip I did something I’ve totally never ever done before: dropped into total fanboy salesdroid mode, talking up the new Amber Road storage products. Because dammit, these customers need ’em. I actually enjoy doing this, but I’m too keenly aware how complex the trade-offs are for most technology choices, and it’s not often that something stands out starkly as these things seem to.
The Buzz · As long as the weather’s not too brutal, anyone who enjoys life has to enjoy a few days in Manhattan. The lights and colours and faces, well, there really isn’t anywhere like it. Of course, not all of it’s happy and pleasant; blow this pic up and check out the fruit vendor.
The pix start to get fuzzy; this one was shot out the window of a taxi that was going way too fast, and the light wasn’t good.
I confess to feeling an odious smugness as I navigated among the crowds of tourists hunched around their unfolded maps, just because I knew where I was going and was There On Business, so Nobody Could Tell that I was actually a Clueless Out-of-Towner too.
Hey, here’s a blurry tourist shot, what a cliché.
The quality of light in Grand Central is always special; the stone is a good colour of course, but they seem pretty clueful about not screwing it up with the wrong lighting.
Sorry, I just couldn’t get enough of the blurry people.
I was pretty busy from early to tired most days, but did get out for one late night walk; it was raining a bit.
Being in New York on business is the best way to visit. Only next time I want a day or two off.