The incredible shrinking AJC ran a breathless front page story Friday morning about 10 of Atlanta's big corporations ponying up $1.5 million each to start a venture capital fund to invest in high-tech startups.
Georgia Tech will manage the $15 million venture capital project involving AT&T, Chick-fil-A, Cox Enterprises, Delta Air Lines, Georgia-Pacific, Georgia Power Foundation, Inc., Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), Invesco Ltd., Home Depot and UPS. Surprising that Coca-Cola was left off the list. Too much bad publicity over sugar?
Outgoing Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, who has presided over a steady if not robust economic resurgence driven by Georgia Tech's technology square and film production, took credit for the curious joint project. The AJC and press releases called "Engage" a world-class fund that will enable Atlanta to compete with such tech powerhouses as Silicon Valley and Austin, Texas. Unmentioned was that Atlanta is already behind cities like Denver, Seattle, Nashville and even New Orleans.
The AJC drum-beating article claimed that the fund would seek to seed the new Microsoft or Google. The $15 million figure left me skeptical, considering that leading Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andressen Horowitz manages $2.7 billion in its 487 investments in 308 companies, according to online reports.
Perhaps Engage will move Atlanta up the high tech ladder, but I would be more convinced if someone like Arthur Blank contributed $1 billion or more.
Blank seems more interested in football and selling seats to his pleasure dome. By the way, the state of Georgia has slowly come up with $10 million for backing high-tech firms, much less than the state's contribution to Blank and his new stadium.