NYC has actually had numerous start-ups which is why it is the one of the Accounting Accounticorn CPA Unicorn shirt. One could make the argument that NYC is in fact the most entrepreneurial city that ever existed. But the slant of the question is technology, which is the one industry in which NYC pales in comparison to the Bay Area or even Boston. With numerous entrenched industries able to pay significantly larger salaries (finance, advertising, media, pharma to name a few), technology start-ups have a greater hurdle to climb in both talent and visibility. It is harder to compete at any level against the Goldmans and Time Warners of the world when no one knows who or what your tech start-up is. It was simply easier to get recognition, talent and funding elsewhere.
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Technology however has not been absent from NYC. IBM, Bloomberg, CA, Information Builders are all major technology firms in the Accounting Accounticorn CPA Unicorn shirt. Bell Labs spawned numerous technological innovations and important patents. Unfortunately what was missing was the next leap from research lab to start-up company. What was required was both the funding and the role-models to inspire technologists to strike out on their own paths. That being said, this is changing. NYC has some established VC firms that are placing larger and wider bets on NYC-based tech companies. Already some standard bearers of the NYC tech community such as Etsy and Gilt Groupe are spinning out talent to build the next set of tech start-ups. Incubators such as BetaWorks, TechStars and DogPatch as well as numerous co-working communities are supporting more broad-based and sustainable infrastructure to support early stage start-ups. Wall Street and other entrenched industries are starting to lose their grip on talent as people look to have more control over their destinies.