Could Atlanta Buy A Silicon Valley? The Answers

With a URL with the extension of “maybe” Paul Graham wrote an interesting essay about how a city could go about buying a Silicon Valley.  Towards the end he poses a series of question any city should ask if the scheme will work for them.  Here is my take on the answers.

Do you have good weather?

With the exception of July and August when the heat and humidity forces everyone indoors, the answer to this question is yes.

Do people live downtown, or have they abandoned the center for the suburbs?

Partially yes.  The vast majority of Atlanta’s 5.5 million people do not live downtown.  But a lot do.  According to a recent TAG survey 38% of Georgia entrepreneurs said they were located with 10 miles of Technology Square in Midtown.  Sixty percent were within 15 miles.  I believe this is dense enough.

Would the city be described as “hip” and “tolerant,” or as reflecting “traditional

With the exception of small pockets inside the perimeter you can’t exactly call Atlanta hip and trendy.  It is a traditional town in a traditional state.  More tolerance is needed in the city too busy to hate.

Are there good universities nearby?

Without a doubt.  Three major research universities are within five miles of each other.  Emory, Georgia Tech, and Georgia State. Major strength of Atlanta.

Are there walkable neighborhoods?

Yes.  Despite the way some folks drive around Atlanta doing 60 miles an hour on 30 mile per hour streets, there are walkable neighborhoods.  Morningside, where I live, is quite walkable.  It’s part of the reason I live there.  So are adjoining neighborhoods like Virginia Highland and Midtown.  Midtown being most important.  It is literally work/live.  And adjacent to Georgia Tech.

Would nerds feel at home?

I don’t know.  I am not a nerd.  I am a semi-geek.  More of a business guy.  But I did once see a coed walking down 5th Street with a “Talk Nerdy To Me” t-shirt on.  So am going to give it a non-qualified to answer yes.

So there you have it.  Hipness aside, Atlanta seems like the type of town that might be able pull off Paul’s plan if it wanted to do so.

What do you think the answers are to Paul’s questions for Atlanta or whatever town you happen to reside?

February 28, 2009  |  Comments  |  Tweet  |  Posted in Startups