Why Atlanta is a great place for the US HQ of a South African IT company

Yes, I know, most IT companies want to be in the Valley, that is, Silicon Valley. I would however suggest you seriously consider Atlanta as an alternative. If you are definitely the next Google, then yes, you have to be in the Valley. Ask Vinny and Yola :-). Most IT companies, however, don’t have to be in the Valley.Here are a few reasons to set up your US HQ in Atlanta:

  • Atlanta has one of the best airports in the world with direct flights (on Delta) to Jo’burg.
  • Very low cost of living compared to most large US city, especially San Francisco.
  • Great time zone overlap with South Africa.
  • Great IT community: Techlinks, TAG, GATech, and atdc.
  • HQ for many Fortune 500 companies including: Coca-Cola, Home Depot, UPS, and Aflac.

This presentation by the Metro Atlanta Chamber gives many more reasons to consider Atlanta as your US HQ.Lance Weatherby had this to say about Atlanta replacing Silicon Valley.I’ve lived in Atlanta (actually in Kennesaw, a town North of Atlanta) for almost 12 years since moving to Atlanta in 1998.

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SoCon08 – Web 2008 in 1.5 days

I attended SoCon07 last year and really enjoyed it. SoCon08 will be held at the University of Kennesaw, just North of Atlanta from February 8-9, 2008. You can register here. It’s not free like ’07 — this year it’s $43 for the full 1.5 days (including a Networking Dinner) or $15 for the Saturday. It’s still a great deal vs for example AlwaysOn’s $1875 OnMedia NYC 2008 event.Great place to meet all sorts of people that are part of the Atlanta (South East) tech scene.Are you going?

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Laurie Olivier – Venture capitalist learned to handle risk fighting off snakes

Laurence (Laurie) Olivier, an Atlanta VC and ex-South African, was recently profiled in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Laurie is a partner in Veritas Venture Partners. Veritas has investments in the following Atlanta based companies: Clickfox, CytoDome, and Asankya. Laurie serves on the board of these companies. He is the Chairman of the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce – Southeast Region and on the board of the Atlanta Venture Forum. Laurie is also instrumental in organizing the annual U.S.-Israel business exchange in Atlanta.In South Africa he currently serves as a technology commercialization advisor to the major government controlled research organization and the University of Pretoria. Laurie was born and raised in South Africa, and holds a B.Engineering (Electronics) from the University of Pretoria, and a B.Com (Hons) and Dip. Datametrics from the University of South Africa.Here is an extract from the Nov 23, 2007 article. Read the rest here.

Venture capitalists, particularly those who concentrate in early-stage investments, need diamond-hard nerves. Laurence “Laurie” Olivier, an Atlanta venture capitalist, got some good training early on. Growing up on a farm in northern South Africa with leopards, baboons and the ultradeadly black mamba, Olivier learned how to confront risk. “The biggest daily problems that we faced were snakes,” he said of his days on the farm in Groot-Marico, near the Botswana border and 150 miles north of Johannesburg. “There was seldom a week that had gone by where we did not kill at least a snake or two inside or very close to our house — some of the most poisonous snakes on earth, like the black mamba and the puff adder. “Olivier, who is distantly related to the famed British actor of the same name, is in somewhat less dangerous territory now, though still in a high-risk line of work: He runs the U.S. operations of Veritas Venture Partners, an Israeli venture capital firm with $100 million in assets under management that invests in early stage high-tech firms. An electrical engineer by training, Olivier, 47, was a former executive at Anglo-American Industrial Corp. in South Africa, where, in 1988 — at age 28 — he was tapped to run that company’s new business development unit. That work helped lay the foundation to what would eventually become his second career as a venture capitalist in 2000, the year he left Anglo-American to join Veritas.”My challenge was to find new businesses that we could start from scratch,” Olivier said. “One way to find new businesses was to scout for technologies, and one way of scouting for technologies was to actually invest in venture capital.”

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Catalyst 2007 – Convergence of next generation leaders

I’ll be attending the Catalyst 2007 conference at the Arena in Gwinnett County, just North of Atlanta, Oct 4-5, 2007. This conference usually draws over 10,000 people and is aimed at sharing leadership insights with young, upcoming leaders. It’s a great event with an impressive list of speakers including:

My plan is to do some live blogging for the first time. Let’s see what happens. Hope to see you there.

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SAPPHIRE 2007 in Atlanta

SAP Logo

SAP is definitely faced with some interesting challenges at the moment. The Oracle lawsuit and now with Shai Agassi leaving. I live in Atlanta and look forward to attending SAPPHIRE. I’m sure it’s going to be an interesting event. It is now a joint event with ASUG and it is from April 22-25, 2007 at the Georgia World Congress Center.Let me know if you are going. I look forward to seeing you there.

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