Big Tech jobs, EV supply chain growth, among 2021 top Atlanta technology trends – Atlanta Business Chronicle – Atlanta Business Chronicle

The technology industry is driving economic development for Atlanta, bringing thousands of jobs, tens of millions in investments and filling office space.
Here are the top tech trends and stories from this year. 
Georgia’s largest economic development project bolsters electric vehicle sector. 
Electric vehicle manufacturer Rivian Automotive Inc. (Nasdaq: RIVN) is planning a facility east of Atlanta that Gov. Brian Kemp calls the largest economic development project in the state’s history. The $5 billion manufacturing facility is set to bring 7,500 jobs to Newton County, about an hour east of the airport. That facility adds to Georgia’s growing electric vehicle supply chain. South Korea-based company SK Innovation is building two battery plants northeast of Atlanta that plans to employ 2,600 people by 2023. Electric mobility parts manufacturer Duckyang announced a facility in the same county, shortly after SK Innovation settled legal disputes that initially delayed the project. Experts say building out the EV supply chain puts the state on the forefront of a high-growth industry and opens new economic development opportunities.  
Tens of thousands of Microsoft jobs coming soon. 
Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) is making a big bet on Atlanta. The Big Tech company opened its Atlantic Yards cloud computing and artificial intelligence office this year, which will have 1,500 jobs by the end of next year. The company also announced southwest Atlanta will become its East Coast headquarters. The 90-acre campus could bring 15,000 jobs to Grove Park, a historically Black working-class neighborhood. Microsoft has spent the year getting community input about the campus, hoping to create an inclusive development with new affordable housing, community amenities and workforce training to counteract displacement of longtime residents. Metro Atlanta will also become Microsoft’s latest U.S. data center region. Two data centers are planned for Fulton County, and another is planned for Douglas County. 
Four tech corporations announce massive Midtown offices.  
Midtown, considered the heart of Atlanta’s tech ecosystem because of Georgia Tech’s innovation district, scored four new offices from major tech corporations this year. Google LLC will take up 19 floors of the new 1105 West Peachtree tower. Credit card giant Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) is bringing 1,000 jobs and investing $31.9 million into a “state-of-the-art” office at 1200 Peachtree Street, the former headquarters of Norfolk Southern. Global tech firm Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) is setting up a 700-person office in the Coda building, which is anchored by Georgia Tech and includes coworking space. Micron Technology Inc. (Nasdaq: MU), a global manufacturer of computer memory and data storage hardware, is opening a design center that promises 500 jobs. The company is eyeing four floors of 712 West Peachtree, sources tell the Atlanta Business Chronicle. 
Atlanta’s next mayor brings techy background to City Hall. 
Mayor-Elect Andre Dickens has a background and perspective from working in the tech industry that could take Atlanta’s growth to another level, local tech leaders say. The former city councilman has also been a leading executive for TechBridge, a nonprofit that trains people and organizations in tech skills. Before that, he got a chemical engineering degree from Georgia Tech, worked in sales at DSM Engineering Plastics and took a shot as a retail entrepreneur. Dickens’ victory signals that Atlanta is committed to evolving into a national innovation hub, tech attorney John Yates said. 
Five Atlanta startups reached $1 billion valuations. 
“Atlanta unicorn” wasn’t a phrase people used often to describe local startups, stakeholders in the technology ecosystem told Atlanta Inno. But the past couple of years have changed that. Five startups reached the unicorn milestone with valuations over $1 billion. Sales engagement platform Salesloft was the first and announced another massive funding round to bookend the year. Scheduling software startup Calendly, which hadn’t raised an investment round since 2013, hit the mark shortly after SalesloftCrime surveillance startup Flock Safety and supply chain tech startup Stord, both founded by Georgia Tech graduates, also became unicorns. FullStory, a digital experience startup founded by former Google employees, rounds out the list. Those high-growth companies add to Atlanta’s growing reputation as an innovation hub. 
One legendary deal. 
Mailchimp CEO Ben Chestnut famously bootstrapped the company into the marketing tech powerhouse it is today. When Mailchimp sold to Intuit in September, it was considered the largest deal in Atlanta history and for any self-funded startup. The $12 billion sale means accelerated growth for Mailchimp, Chestnut said. He plans to stay with the company, which will combine Mailchimp’s marketing prowess with Intuit’s backend software to create a suite of products for small businesses. Mailchimp and Intuit employees will move into a new development on the BeltLine’s Eastside Trail across from Ponce City Market at the end of 2022. 
$3 billion pour into Georgia startups.  
Georgia startups raised a record amount of capital this year — north of $3 billion. Atlanta is home to most of those companies. The city’s low cost of living, tech talent pool, international airport, and diversity of industries and people create a foundation for a successful technology ecosystem. The data reflects those strengths and indicates a strong recovery from the pandemic.  The past five years have shown a continued upward trend for capital coming to Georgia startups. The timing of Atlanta’s growth corresponds with an influx in capital across the nation. 
New investment funds bring more local capital. 
The Atlanta innovation ecosystem is seeing a record number of venture capital firms raising first funds. The city has historically lacked local capital sources, which experts say hinders the tech sector’s growth. Most of the new venture capital firms are focused on early-stage startups raising initial rounds, which is the most difficult time for a founder to secure investments, local investors say. OverlinePanoramic Ventures and Collab Capital, all led by successful Atlanta entrepreneurs, are a few of the firms with new funds. 
Georgia Tech expands development and partnerships. 
Georgia Tech is planning to develop the last phase of Tech Square innovation district to include another 402,000 square feet of academic, research and retail space including two twin towers, underground parking and a dedicated green space. The university is expanding its reach further into West Midtown. It picked Trammell Crow Co. As developer for the next phase of the Technology Enterprise Park biosciences and health innovation district, which aims to mimic the economic development success of Tech Square but focus specifically on life sciences. Georgia Tech also opened a new startup space called Encore in West Midtown’s Interlock building. New federal grants and partnerships could also bolster the university’s resources for artificial intelligence commercialization and space exploration and aerospace research. 
Atlanta is becoming a hotspot for data centers. 
Facebook joins Microsoft in erecting new data centers in the Atlanta area. Facebook plans to build the project on 630 acres at a development about an hour east of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport that already includes two existing Facebook data centers. Atlanta’s colocation data center market, which are data centers that include infrastructure for multiple companies, saw the third-most leasing activity in North America during the first half of the year. The influx of data centers reflects a growing demand for more cloud storage and faster products. Metro Atlanta’s low land and energy costs, central location and fiber infrastructure are making the region a top market for these projects. 
Hybrid work schedules have become the norm. 
As the pandemic continues, executives are reconsidering their office spaces and how their employees work. Cybersecurity firm Pindrop Security Inc. moved into a new office about a third of the size of its original headquarters, choosing walkable amenities and collaborative spaces over a traditional office layout. Fintech giant Global Payments (NYSE: GPN) consolidated its north Atlanta offices to Alpharetta, then put half of it on the market to sublease. Calendly scrapped its office entirely, opting for a remote workforce. Hybrid work schedules seem to be prevailing as the norm for Atlanta tech companies. The tech industry is leading the leasing activity across the nation, showing a commitment to in-person collaboration despite the ability to work remotely. 
Atlanta University Center is budding innovation district. 
An influx in investments into the Atlanta University Center, the nation’s largest consortium of historically Black colleges and universities, could transform the West End neighborhood into Atlanta’s next innovation district. Apple and Southern Co. are investing $25 million each into the Propel Center, a business incubator and innovation headquarters planned within the AUC. The nearby Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship could serve as an incubator for startups founded by AUC students or recent graduates. The neighborhood still has a long way to go before it attracts the same development as Tech Square, stakeholders say, but the ingredients are there. 
Ransomware attacks plague major Atlanta companies. 
Alpharetta-based Colonial Pipeline, one of the largest fuel transport systems in the United States, faced a ransomware attack that halted most of its operations. It was the fifth major metro Atlanta-based company known to be hit by ransomware attacks this year. Carrollton, Ga.-based cable manufacturing giant Southwire Co. was attacked in December 2019. SiteOne Landscape Supply Inc. (NYSE: SITE) was hit last July. Then in November 2020, cold-storage giant Americold Realty Trust (NYSE: COLD) reported it was hit with a cybersecurity incident without specifying it was ransomware. Container giant WestRock Co. (NYSE: WRK) was hit in January. The impact of ransomware attacks varies, and most major companies carry insurance to help pay the costs of attacks. 
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