Forget Silicon Valley. Black people who work in technology are converging on Atlanta. The city has become a mecca for African Americans in tech. A study found Atlanta to be the top spot for Black technology workers. Four times more Black people work in tech in Atlanta than in San Francisco, according to a 2016 Brookings Institute study.
There are large numbers of Black computer programmers, information security analysts, database administrators, math scientists, and statisticians, according to Mark Muro, a senior fellow at Brookings.
“What we’re hoping to create here is the LeBron James of tech that everyone can see themselves in,” said Travis Nunnally, who, with twin brother Troy, teaches startup strategies and offers critical financial support, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
One reason techies are attracted to Atlanta is its resources for developing talent among Black people and people of color. This includes tech programs at Morehouse College and Spelman College, as well as tech incubators at corporations. Other companies such as Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines and the city’s Fortune 500 have track records of financially supporting Black entrepreneurs. Add to that Atlanta’s relatively inexpensive cost of living, a draw for technology workers residing in more expensive areas of the country, AJC reported.
There are about 20 Black angel investors or venture capital operators in Atlanta.
There is more diversity in Atlanta than in Silicon Valley. The city has always attracted Black trailblazers and entrepreneurs in various fields, such as Jermaine Dupri in music, Tyler Perry in film, and Herman J. Russell in construction.
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But even in Atlanta, there are still challenges for Black tech entrepreneurs. Since 2000, Georgia startups have raised billions in angel funding and venture capital — about $1.15 billion alone last year. However, Black-owned or co-founded startups have pulled in only about $300 million of that investment, according to Rodney Sampson, chairman and CEO of Opportunity Hub. OHub focuses specifically on diversity and inclusion in the industry, AJC reported.
Still, Black tech entrepreneurs say there is more opportunity in Atlanta.
“Atlanta is truly a hot spot for diverse entrepreneurs to build scalable tech startups, especially if the brand is focused on African American consumers,” said Kunbi Tinuoye, the founder and CEO of UrbanGeekz, a technology industry blog.