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Flatiron Partners is a venture capital firm that focuses on investments in early stage internet and internet related content, services and software companies. It is based in New York, New York.

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Who wields power in the big city?

Dec 13, 2021

Identifying the most powerful people in a city such as New York can be maddening. This is home to so many centers of globally recognized influence: finance and Broadway, publishing and politics, fashion, art, sports, cuisine. For Crain’s staff, choosing the 25 Most Powerful New Yorkers became a task of narrowing a long list of spectacular names. Power is not simply wealth, although wealth can be a factor. Power over others’ careers is a factor, as is the ability to get something going—or to bring it to a quick stop. The internet has forced a broader definition of power by magnifying forms of social influence. In future years, it’s likely that many of the names on this list will change. New York is undergoing a profound shuffling of the deck as we grapple with—and, with hope, emerge from—the pandemic. So this list by necessity exists for just a moment in time. Next year there will be a different power calculus. Join us as we celebrate those atop the pinnacle in 2021. —Anne Michaud, Assistant Managing Editor Profiles by Justin Doom. Aaron Elstein, Judy Messina and Natalie Sachmechi contributed. Bloomberg Mayor-elect of New York City Adams, elected in November, is set to take over Jan. 1 as New York’s 100th mayor and only the second African American one in city history after David Dinkins, who held office in the early 1990s. It’s something of a pattern for Adams, who in becoming Brooklyn’s 18th borough president also became the first African American in that role. The four-time state senator and 22-year NYPD veteran ran for mayor as the “people’s candidate.” He shared on his campaign website how he was one of six children raised by a single mother, not always knowing if the family “would come home to an eviction notice on the front door or food on the table.” Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, he has promised to slash red tape to help businesses recover . He also has vowed to spend on programs to reduce systemic inequality and to help rebuild the city’s tourism and hospitality industries. “I know we can do it,” he wrote on his campaign site. Attorney general of New York The first woman of color to hold citywide office in New York, as well as the first to hold any statewide office, James is poised to continue her advocacy as the state's chief legal officer. The former City Council member and public advocate has a reputation for holding accountable those in power, grabbing headlines while she oversaw the investigation that led to the resignation of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Though James announced a run for governor in October, she has since withdrawn from the race to focus on completing the ongoing investigations her office has underway. She's said she has "the experience, vision and courage to take on the powerful on behalf of all New Yorkers.”  “I’ve sued the Trump administration 76 times,” she said in the video announcing her candidacy. “But who’s counting?” Bloomberg Governor of New York Having served as lieutenant governor from 2015 to 2021, Hochul became the state’s first female governor , after Andrew Cuomo resigned in the wake of an investigation into sexual assault allegations. On her first day, Hochul announced a comprehensive plan, including a mask mandate and widespread testing, to get children back into schools—which she called her top priority. Hochul has deep roots in the state. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University and served for 14 years as a Hamburg Town Board member. While representing the state’s 26th District in the House of Representatives from 2011 to 2013, she served on the armed services and homeland security committees. As part of her continuing effort to battle Covid-19, in November she touted vaccine booster shots, saying that “with the holidays coming up, we must continue to do everything we can to keep New Yorkers safe.” Bloomberg JPMorgan CEO Dimon became a billionaire running America’s largest bank. The New York City native has been chairman of JPMorgan Chase since 2006, after rising to the role of chief executive a year earlier. The Tufts and Harvard graduate has held a variety of executive roles in the financial sector, at companies including Citigroup, American Express and Bank One. He was Bank One’s chairman and CEO when JPMorgan purchased it in 2004. Linked in various media reports to potential jobs in Barack Obama’s and Joe Biden’s White House, Dimon has stayed put, and he currently serves on the boards of Harvard Business School and the New York University School of Medicine. Bloomberg Ford Foundation president Before becoming president of the $16 billion Ford Foundation, Walker was vice president of the Rockefeller Foundation and chief operating officer of Abyssinian Development, the largest community development organization in Harlem. The University of Texas graduate received Harvard’s Du Bois Medal. And he headed the philanthropic committee that worked to resolve Detroit’s historic bankruptcy. Last year, as philanthropic organizations throughout the country shuddered amid a shuttered economy, he helped lead a historic $1 billion bond sale organized to help fund nonprofits struck hard by the pandemic. He told The New York Times at the time of the sale: “There was a sense of desperation and panic from these usually self-assured leaders. There’s never been such an existential challenge to the future of the nonprofit sector.” Citigroup CEO Fraser took on the hardest job in banking, if not all of business, when she became Citigroup’s chief executive  in March. Her all-male predecessors left behind plenty of work, and she didn’t waste any time, announcing that the bank would sell its branches in 13 countries. “We want to achieve fundamental transformation,” she said during her first conference call as CEO. Fraser, a native of Scotland, joined Citi in 2004 after serving for 10 years as a partner at McKinsey & Co., where she co-wrote the book Race for the World: Strategies to Build a Great Global Firm. She also previously worked as an M&A analyst at Goldman Sachs. Bloomberg Pfizer CEO Bourla , who has spent more than 25 years at Pfizer, is now chairman and CEO. Last year Institutional Investor named him the top chief executive in the pharmaceuticals sector. Before becoming CEO in January 2019, he served as chief operating officer and in multiple group president roles, including efforts to expand the company’s footprint in vaccines. Pfizer has helped supply hundreds of millions of Covid-19 vaccine doses, with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently announcing that children 5 through 11 are eligible to receive them. “This is a day so many parents, eager to protect their young children from this virus, have been waiting for,” Bourla said in late October. “We have achieved another key marker in our ongoing effort to help protect families and communities, and to get this disease under control.” Bloomberg Union Square Ventures partner Wilson has been a venture capitalist since well before most. He founded Flatiron Partners in 1987 and is currently a partner at Union Square Ventures. The firm, which was founded in 2003, has backed more than 100 startups, including Coinbase , Duolingo, Etsy, Stripe and Twitter. Since 2003, Wilson has maintained a popular blog, AVC, which he has written is his “diary, where I think things through.” In addition to being generally regarded as one of the most successful venture capitalists of all time, Wilson, who has degrees from both MIT and Wharton, is chairman of New York City’s CS4All capital campaign, a public-private partnership aimed at expanding exposure and access to computer science. He also serves as co-chairman of Tech:NYC , a nonprofit whose founding members include Facebook, Google and Yahoo. Bloomberg Blackstone CEO After helping to found Blackstone in 1985, Schwarzman now serves as chairman and CEO. He is among the world’s most recognizable financiers. Blackstone is the single largest owner of property in the world and the planet’s largest discretionary hedge fund investor. As of September, the firm managed more than $730 billion in assets. Schwarzman holds a bachelor’s degree from Yale, where he has been an adjunct professor, and an MBA from Harvard Business School, where he’s an adviser. He is the former chairman of President Donald Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum. He has given away hundreds of millions of dollars to support education and the arts, and he’s signed the Giving Pledge, committing the majority of his wealth to philanthropy. Buck Ennis Google vice president for global client partnerships Boone, a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Business School, co-leads Google’s New York office and oversees the company’s strategy on billions of dollars in business across some of the world’s largest advertisers. Since Boone joined Google, the tech leviathan has purchased prime city real estate. Those deals include $1.8 billion for a 15-story building in Chelsea in 2010, $2.4 billion to acquire Chelsea Market in 2018 and a commitment in September to spend an additional $2.1 billion on Manhattan office space that overlooks the Hudson River. As many as 12,000 Google employees have come to the city in recent years. Before Google, Boone held senior positions at WPP and Publicis, two of the Big Four ad agencies. He was a senior manager at Bain & Co., advising on strategy, product development, and mergers and acquisitions. He currently serves on Macy’s corporate board. U.S. Department of Transportation deputy secretary As second-in-command under Pete Buttigieg at the Transportation Department, and as the agency’s chief operating officer, Trottenberg likely will be even busier now with the passage of President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill . Among her tasks as New York City’s transportation commissioner from 2014 until last year, she oversaw 6,000 miles of roadways and 789 bridges, leading a 5,800-person department that helped maintain the largest traffic operation and parking system in the country. Trottenberg previously spent five years in the Obama administration as undersecretary for policy. A graduate of Barnard College and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, she also served as a policy adviser in the Senate under Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Chuck Schumer and Barbara Boxer. Bloomberg U.S. Senate majority leader In 2000, two years after he was elected to the Senate, Schumer became the state’s senior senator when Daniel Patrick Moynihan retired. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Schumer famously visits all 62 New York counties every year. After the 9/11 attacks, he helped New York receive more than $20 billion in aid, and he assisted in securing a $63 billion relief package in the wake of Superstorm Sandy . When he rose to Senate majority leader in January, he became the first Jewish person to lead either chamber of Congress. Schumer was a leading sponsor of the Violence Against Women Act and the Brady Bill, and he championed the Hate Crimes Prevention Act. He’s the second cousin, once removed, of comedian Amy Schumer. Associated Press State Senate majority leader First elected in 2006 to the state Senate, Stewart-Cousins was chosen as the first woman to lead a legislative conference in 2012, the year she became minority leader. In 2019 she was elected majority leader and temporary president of the Senate. Born and raised in New York, she has overseen historic legislation on issues including guns, health care, immigration, voting reform, women’s rights, tenants’ rights, affordable housing and climate change. She even briefly stepped in as acting lieutenant governor when Kathy Hochul assumed the position vacated by Andrew Cuomo. Stewart-Cousins previously served as a Westchester County legislator, and before getting into politics became the first African American director of community affairs for Yonkers, where she currently resides. She represents Greenburgh, Scarsdale and parts of New Rochelle, White Plains and Yonkers. Bloomberg Union Square Hospitality Group CEO If all Meyer did was was found Shake Shack , he’d still be considered a culinary legend—and he did that 19 years after founding his first restaurant, Union Square Café, as a 27-year-old in 1985. Since then, the St. Louis native has played a role in launching some of the city’s most iconic restaurants, including Gramercy Tavern, Maialino and The Modern. As chief executive of Union Square Hospitality Group, Meyer has helped build a clutch of restaurants into a full-scale organization, and he has worked to add dining options at museums and arenas. His 2006 book, Setting the Table, a look at the business side of building his restaurant empire, became a New York Times bestseller. Shake Shack now has more than 250 locations worldwide—some company owned, some licensed—and a market cap of more than $3.3 billion. Getty Images Manhattan borough president Brewer may have been term-limited as borough president, but she is prepared to continue influencing life and policy in the city. Brewer, a 12-year member of the City Council before she was elected to her current post in 2014, will be back on the council Jan. 1, having won the District 6 seat in the most recent election. In her previous stint, she succeeded in passing legislation on sick leave for hourly employees, the online publication of city data and protections for domestic workers. As borough president, she has appointed community board members and been influential in determining land-use and development opportunities. U.S. representative Brooklyn born and raised, Jeffries is in his fifth term representing the state’s 8th District in the House of Representatives. He is chairman of the Democratic Caucus, a position to which he was elected in November 2018, making him the fifth-highest-ranking House Democrat. Jeffries advocates for social and economic justice. In January 2020 House Speaker Nancy Pelosi selected him as one of seven impeachment managers for the Senate trial of President Donald Trump. Later that year Jeffries was instrumental in helping the House pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. Before heading to D.C., he spent six years in the Assembly, where he authored laws to help protect New Yorkers during police encounters, including changes made in 2010 to NYPD stop-and-frisk policies and data collection on people stopped but not charged. Bloomberg Playwright Miranda's "Hamilton" simultaneously introduced hip-hop to an older generation and America’s Founding Fathers to a younger one. The show became a worldwide phenomenon, receiving in 2016 a record-breaking 16 Tony nominations—it won 11, the second-most ever—just eight years after another Miranda creation, "In the Heights," won four of the 13 Tony Awards it was nominated for. Miranda has been lauded for including actors of color among American revolutionaries. In 2021 "In the Heights," set in Washington Heights’ Latino community, made it to the big screen. Raised in Inwood, he has won a Pulitzer, three Tonys, three Grammys, two Emmys and two Olivier Awards, and he has received a MacArthur Genius Grant in addition to Kennedy Center honors. Wikipedia CUNY chancellor The first person of Latino descent to lead the City University of New York, Matos Rodriguez oversees a network of 25 campuses and half a million students. He served as president of CUNY’s Queens College and Hostos Community College. A Yale graduate with a Ph.D. from Columbia, he has taught at Yale, Northeastern University, Boston College, the Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico, City College and Hunter College. In an October letter in The Wall Street Journal, he noted: “ CUNY is an unparalleled engine of social mobility. A 2017 study … found that CUNY moved more low-income students into the middle class than all the Ivy League colleges as well as elite private schools—such as the University of Chicago, MIT, Stanford and Duke—combined.” Associated Press New York City public advocate Williams, who recently announced his bid for governor in a video discussing his long battle with Tourette syndrome, nearly became lieutenant governor in 2018. He was selected on 47% of all ballots, the most votes received by any candidate of color in a statewide primary. During that campaign, he was endorsed by Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, The New York Times, unions and advocacy groups. Before becoming New York City’s public advocate in 2019, he represented Brooklyn’s 45th District on the City Council from 2009 to 2019. “Jumaane never stopped standing with marginalized communities to fight for justice and equity for all,” his campaign website says, “and has never been afraid to put his body on the line. He has been arrested more than any other sitting elected official in New York, standing up for women’s rights, immigration rights, housing rights and more.” Courtesy of 32BJ SEIU 32BJ SEIU president With some 175,000 members in 11 states and the District of Columbia, 32BJ SEIU is the nation’s largest union of property workers. Bragg , formerly 32BJ’s secretary-treasurer, became president in July 2019. He took over after Hector Figueroa died from a heart attack. “His loss is a deep tragedy not just for our union but for all workers,” Bragg told the Daily News at the time. “But Hector didn’t lead in a vacuum. He built leadership across his organization, and although we’ll be feeling his absence for years to come, he left a clear vision and path for us to follow.” Bragg has been on that path for quite some time, spending more than 35 years in 32BJ and following in the footsteps of his father, a longtime organizer and vice president of 1199 SEIU. Bragg led his first strike when he was 16 years old. He lives in Queens with his wife and three children. Actress and rapper Nora Lum, aka Awkwafina, is from Queens, and she co-created, wrote and stars in "Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens," a fictionalized TV show. The 33-year-old creative superstar’s list of credits reads like Mad Libs. Though probably best known on the big screen for Ocean’s "Eight" and "Crazy Rich Asians," she also just starred in Marvel’s "Shang-Chi" and the "Legend of the Ten Rings." She won a Golden Globe for 2019’s "The Farewell," becoming the first Asian American woman to win for best actress. She has dozens of film and TV credits, including voiceover work on "The Simpsons" and hosting "Saturday Night Live." Oh, and she has recorded two studio comedy-rap releases: 2014’s "Yellow Ranger" and the 2018 "In Fina We Trust" EP. She said in a 2017 magazine interview that she began rapping at age 13, singing into a boom box before learning how to produce music using her laptop. Buck Ennis Partnership for New York City CEO and president Wylde , president and CEO of the Partnership for New York City, formerly the New York Chamber of Commerce and Industry, has been running the influential nonprofit since 2001. Before she took over, she was the founding CEO of both the housing and investment fund affiliates for the partnership, managing economic development that included providing access to affordable housing and improving neighborhoods. Her work and management of the investment fund nurtured city growth and helped create thousands of jobs. Wylde, a Madison, Wis., native who now lives in Brooklyn, serves on boards or advisory groups at the New York City Economic Development Corp., the Manhattan Institute and the Fund for Public Schools. She is a graduate of St. Olaf College. Bloomberg CBRE Tristate CEO Throughout her 37-year career as a Manhattan broker, Tighe has managed to ascend to the top of the real estate boys’ club. She has brokered more than 110 million square feet worth of deals, and in 2018 she took home her ninth REBNY Deal of the Year award—the most any person has ever won. But it’s not just her dealmaking that makes her so influential. She was at the center of the city’s Midtown East rezoning, which paved the way for the development of millions of square feet of new, iconic office buildings . And she’s now at the forefront of transforming New York City into a hub for laboratory space for the red-hot life sciences sector. Buck Ennis Hotel Association of New York City CEO The Hotel Association of New York City, which represents about 300 hotels with roughly 80,000 beds, just got a much-needed shot in the arm. As pandemic-related travel bans were being lifted, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a $450 million “Bring back tourism, bring back jobs” program that could help tens of thousands of sector employees. Dandapani is bullish on the city’s hotel industry , which he expects to reach near normalcy in three or four years, as business travel and the convention and conference industry slowly recover. A Cornell graduate, Dandapani was co-founder and president of Manhattan-based Apple Core Hotels from 1993 to 2016. A hospitality innovator, he in 2006 led the effort to publicize and confront the citywide problem of illegal hotels. He assumed his current role in 2017. Associated Press Yankees outfielder Many people have been described as larger than life, but Judge actually might be. Listed as 6-foot-7, 282 pounds, he’s one of the largest baseball players of all time. And he has excelled in the nation’s largest media market while setting records for how hard he hits the ball. In 572 games over six seasons, the outfielder has crushed 158 home runs, won two Silver Slugger Awards and been named to three All-Star teams. He was the unanimous American League Rookie of the Year in 2017, when he set a rookie record for homers, with 52, and finished second in the MVP voting. Judge has endorsement deals with Adidas, Jersey Mike’s, Pepsi and Under Armour. The fan favorite could become a free agent after next season, but he insists he wants to stay in New York. He told mlb.com last month: “If it was up to me, I would be a Yankee for the next 10 years.”

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