Disclosure: I build a company in the Atlanta Technology Village.
An earlier post titled, What Pardot’s $100mm Acquisition Means for Atlanta, ended with: “Pardot’s acquisition is a big deal and it’s importance will only become clearer with time.” That time has come sooner than most expected. In the past few weeks, Pardot’s co-founder, David Cummings, purchased Ivy Place — the circa 1986, hedge-fundy looking building at the corner of Lenox and Piedmont. It aptly has large, white letters spelling out “The Private Bank,” twice, on each corner of the building overlooking Buckhead.
In an inexplicable turn of events, a building architected for private wealth managers, investment bankers, and multi-generational law firms, is now about to be overrun with some of Atlanta’s most ambitious entrepreneurs. Any doubters should look no further than the Twitter stream of Atlanta Tech Village tenant @Urvaksh — the personable Atlanta Business Chronicle writer (scoop master) who’s snark is masked by his authentic jollity towards life and hard-to-find information (send scoops his way).
Ivy Place transitioning to the Atlanta Tech Village is more than just a change in name. The dichotomy of young, ambitious tech entrepreneurs versus the traditional corporate types is a cultural clash that can only be compared to the scene of the opening resident party at the The Mansion (on Peachtree), where Atlanta’s most successful hip-hop artists shared drinks with the city’s old-money establishment.
Buckhead is known to most as Atlanta’s most affluent neighborhood. The Ritz, the St. Regis, our city’s best steak houses are all within a mile or two of the Atlanta Tech Village. Wait, what? It would make more sense to put a Racquet Club in old Ivy Place than it would to put a Tech Village.
Or would it?
In the summer of 2009 when Mayor Kasim Reed and City Council President were battling against each other in the race for mayor, they both kept using a similar line, stump speech after stump speech. “Real estate is to Atlanta what finance is to New York.” It’s the back bone of commerce in our city. Unquestionably, it’s true.
Of course, even Tom Wolfe nailed the depiction of Atlanta through an aging real estate tycoon who’s willing to bet the farm, actually plantation, on one real estate bet after another.
Constructing a building doesn’t put people in them. Jobs do. Jobs from entrepreneurs who create a product, take it to market, and scale it (see: Airwatch).
Entrepreneurs in this country run it; they always have and always will. Go back to Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Carnegie, Ford: all entrepreneurs, all builders. Today, Jobs (R.I.P.), Zuckerberg, Bezos, and Brin, are all household names because of the way they affect our daily lives.
That’s why every lawyer, banker, financial planner, insurance agent and more, want to see us win. They’ll put up with us “riding segways around the office” (hattip Urvaksh) or wearing jeans and a t-shirt to a meeting because they want us to succeed. If we win, they win. It’s simple.
So where does the Atlanta Tech Village leave us? In a cultural shift for sure. The other is a monetary shift.
Yes, Buckhead doesn’t foster the most creative vibe. However, there’s one thing Buckhead has that all startups need: capital. David’s decision to purchase the building in the heart of Buckhead and soon to replace the haughty and exclusive “The Private Bank” sign with a more open and friendly “Atlanta Tech Village” is down right courageous.
Most building purchases in Buckhead go through the traditional process of running it by the Buckhead Coalition, getting a feel of the community, figuring out who the players are, etc. before the project is started.
David bought Ivy Place in two weeks and I doubt he asked permission from anyone.
My past 3 days in the Atlanta Tech Village have been invigorating. Add to the fact that three venture capital/seed stage funds have stopped by and introduced themselves as they all toured the Atlanta Tech Village. Each one plans on getting space in the ATV.
More of Atlanta’s wealthier residents will finally see that technology in Atlanta isn’t something only done in the lonely hallways of Tech Square. Now it’s right in front of their nose and a few more successful exits will make them wonder what they’re missing out on.
I’m not sure if it’s because years and years of old money have dominated Atlanta business or if it’s just that our finest era of innovation was soon after Sherman burned our city down, maybe they’re two in the same. However, Atlanta is about to see the biggest cultural and economic disruption right in the heart of the city’s oldest and wealthiest guard: Buckhead. It’s exciting because everyone will thrive and that guard will embrace all of the business we bring them.