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In Atlanta, a tech hub rises among peach orchards

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Turns out your town doesn’t need a tweeting mayor, beaches, or a Will Smith song to be considered the next tech-hot region.

A recent round of deals put Atlanta on the map as an increasingly powerful player in the US tech industry.

Great: Atlanta-based email marketing firm Mailchimp was sold to Intuit, the makers of TurboTax, for $ 12 billion last week, the biggest deal ever for a local tech company.

In other tech deals from Atlanta last week …

  • Goldman Sachs acquired GreenSky, a fintech platform focused on home improvement loans, for $ 2.2 billion.
  • Logistics startup Stord has become a logistics unicorn after raising funds for a valuation of $ 1.1 billion.

If Atlanteans are a little hesitant to fight their chests, it’s because the city was considered a rising tech star decades ago. In 1996, the city hosted the Summer Olympics, increasing its visibility around the world. Local telecommunications and networking companies have thrived with all the enthusiasm of the dot-com era. We all know how it happened, however.

The Renaissance

In the wake of the dot-com collapse, a new class of startups has emerged, including the household names Mailchimp, Kabbage (acquired by American Express), and Calendly.

Now Atlanta is in a strong position to make further gains. It has one of the busiest airports in the United States, Hartsfield-Jackson, large corporations such as Home Depot and Delta Airlines, leading research institutes like Georgia Tech, and perhaps more importantly, many talents in computer science and engineering, especially black talents.

  • The city is home to a cluster of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), including Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, and Spelman College.
  • About 36% of Atlanta’s tech workforce is black or Hispanic, just behind San Antonio.

Tech companies that are committed to increasing the diversity of their workforce are eyeing Atlanta’s black engineering talent. Microsoft will hire 1,500 people in its new Atlanta office, Apple is partnering with a $ 50 million tech hub and Airbnb, explicitly citing the prevalence of black talent in Atlanta, is also planning to open a hub in the city.

Zoom out: Despite receiving $ 3.1 billion in venture capital in the first half of 2021, a record for the city, Atlanta remains a small fish in the tech pond (Silicon Valley, by comparison, attracted $ 48.9 billion of venture capital dollars). Talented people are always leaving for better opportunities on the West Coast, and Atlanta faces increasing competition from other cities in the Southeast, like Charlotte and Nashville. –NF


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