Atlanta’s tech sector to prospect for capital, attention, in Silicon Valley

By David Pendered

There’s just something about a $19 billion price tag on a business acquisition that catches the eye.

WhatsApp deal 2:23This figure has to be in the back of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s mind as he prepares to lead a trade delegation to Silicon Valley. The group has meetings with 12 venture capital companies and social media platforms to invite them to invest in Atlanta tech companies.

The $19 billion is the sum Facebook has agreed to pay to purchase WhatsApp, a messaging giant. WhatsApp has more than 450 million monthly active users, and more than 70 percent of them are active each day, according to

The promise embodied in the proposed WhatsApp transaction is the type of deal that fuels metro Atlanta’s technology sector. There’s the hope cited by Georgia Tech students that their work will improve the overall quality of life. There’s also the hope of a big payoff if the market embraces their work.

The Atlanta delegation hopes to attract investment and the interest of companies including Google, Facebook and Cisco, according to a statement released by Reed’s office.

There’s no promise that, even with California start-up money, Atlanta will become home to a future version of the WhatsApp deal. But Reed certainly is promoting the city as a future tech hub.

John Yates

John Yates

“Atlanta has long been a city that welcomes and nurtures talent, entrepreneurship, and innovation,” Reed said in the statement. “I am confident that this trip will enable us to position our city as an ideal location for long-term tech investments and ensure that Atlanta’s technology sector continues to grow and thrive.”

Atlanta lawyer John Yates is slated to make the trip. Yates heads the technology practice at Morris, Manning & Martin and has focused on the tech sector for some 30 years.

“Atlanta is one of the most attractive cities in the United States for Silicon Valley investors,” Yates said in the statement. “We have the ingredients venture capitalists seek – major universities, talented entrepreneurs, leading incubators and active angel investors. And two-thirds of VC investment last year was in areas where Atlanta is a leader – information technology, healthcare and financial services.”

However, just 5 percent of all venture capital investment goes to the southeast, according to the statement. That said, metro Atlanta is ranked 12th in the nation in terms of tech start-ups, according to the release.

One example of fledgling success by an Atlanta-based tech start-up is CardioMEMS, a which grew from research based at Georgia Tech. The company is focused on a device the size of a paperclip that can be permanently implanted in the human body to improve the quality of life for people with heart failure and hypertension.

Sales at the privately held company could reach $259 million in 2017 if the device wins approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, according to a report by a Wells Fargo analyst. A FDA panel in October determined the product is safe, but did not indicate whether the product is closer to full approval, according to

The group plans to provide updates of the trip via Twitter at #ReedSVTour.

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

4 replies
  1. atlman says:

    All of you regionalism supporters should contact Mayor Reed and tell him to propose to Google that they consider the entire Atlanta metro area for their gigabit Ethernet service. Google is only going to expand to 34 cities. We already know that the Research Triangle area in North Carolina is going to be one of the 34, because the cities in the research triangle cooperate and work together to bring projects as a region. That is one of the reasons why the Research Triangle area is beating our brains out for economic development projects and research grants. (Incidentally a research quadrant with Medical College of Georgia, Emory, UGA and Georgia Tech is perfectly feasible. Just saying.) 

    Google is considering several cities in the Atlanta metro area (mostly in Fulton and Cobb) separately. While Atlanta has a good shot of getting a bid by their own (Google is a liberal, pro-urban company and Atlanta has Georgia Tech and other assets) were the region to coordinate on a combined bid and pitch the entire 10-county metro area (or failing that at least pitch Clayton, Atlanta, North Fulton (the future Milton County), DeKalb, Cobb and Gwinnett) then the combined population, wealth and economic power of the area will make it impossible for Google to turn down.
    If Governor Deal wants to win re-election, he could play a major role in this also. It would be a HUGE economic development feather in his cap that would help shift his reputation from being a good ole boy to being a technocrat.

    So go ahead regionalism supporters. Make this happen. Work together on economic development projects instead of undercutting and fighting against each other on things like the T-SPLOST, MARTA, GRTA and the Braves.Report


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