Hip-hop, housewives and hot startups: A guide to Atlanta's startup scene

By Paul Judge, Guest Contributor , written on July 7, 2014

From The News Desk

Atlanta: Home to hip-hop, housewives and hot startups.

Ok, this post, and the guide embedded below, is really only about the last thing on that list, although many people outside of Atlanta are more familiar with the former: hip-hop and “real” housewives. Of those two things, one makes us proud and one makes us, let’s just say not so proud. Hot startups though—we’ve been busy on that front.

I’m in Silicon Valley about once a month and I’m constantly asked, “How’s the startup scene in Atlanta?”

My answer is that it’s active, successful and growing. I explain that it is anchored by Georgia Tech with 20,000 students and 11 engineering programs ranked top 10 in their field. There’s a total of 270,000 college students in Atlanta.

There have been more than 100 acquisitions and IPOs of tech companies in Atlanta totaling over $80 billion in value.

There are clusters like information security highlighted most recently by VMware’s $1.4 billion acquisition of AirWatch and historically by ISS helping define the industry culminating in an IPO then $1.3 billion acquisition by IBM.

Another cluster is sales and marketing automation where Mailchimp is an Atlanta favorite preceded by a lineup of other successes including Vitrue acquired by Oracle for $300M and Silverpop acquired by IBM for $270M.

Currently there are over 700 tech startups in Atlanta and over $300 million a year of venture capital flowing into town. Top firms and prominent investors have recently increased their Atlanta activity. For example Yik Yak raised $10 million from DCM and Tim Draper, BitPay raised $30 million from Index Ventures and Richard Branson, Ionic Security raised $25 million from Kleiner Perkins and Google Ventures and Pindrop raised $11 million from Andreessen Horowitz.

Hackathons and Meetups are a daily and weekly norm. Coworking spaces are popping up like condos in Miami in the 90s. Coding schools like General Assembly and The Iron Yard have rolled into town this year. The government is getting in on the fun by rolling out tax incentives and economic development programs.

Beyond startups, Atlanta is home to 15 of the Fortune 500 companies including Coke, Home Depot, and UPS and five of the top 20 non-profit organizations like American Cancer Society and Habitat for Humanity.

And that's my short answer. The full answer to the question “how’s the startup scene in Atlanta?” is  far too long for casual conversation so I decided to spend a few evenings creating “The Definitive Guide To The Atlanta Startup Scene”. It is a seventy-page presentation about the startups, founders, investors, hangouts, and exits—all the things that make up the Atlanta startup scene. I've embedded the full document below.

I hope that you find it useful for extending your Atlanta knowledge beyond what you may have seen on reality shows. Pando's recent Southland Conference was a fun collision of Silicon Valley and the Southeast. I look forward to the next one and to more collisions between now and then.

In the meantime, if you would like to visit or get involved in the Atlanta startup scene in any way, give me a shout. And yes I will also answer your questions about hip-hop.

[Editor’s note:  This is an unpaid guest contribution by Paul Judge, cofounder of Tech Square Labs and Chief Research Officer at Barracuda Networks. He is chairman of Pindrop and Monsieur and an active early stage investor. He tweets at @PaulJudge and occasionally updates]

The Guide to Atlanta's Start Up Scene