Atlanta’s been growing its startup and tech game. A new study crunched the last decade of numbers to show how access to venture capital varies across our country. Atlanta made the list of top 12 venture ecosystems and out-punched its weight class on exit values.
As you expect, the Silicon Valley dynamic duo of San Francisco and San Jose rank first and second on the list. Atlanta ranked last at number 12. We had 28 active local funds here last year. San Francisco has 24 times as many. When you see that difference in local venture firm population, it puts it into perspective that Atlanta raised $1.15 billion since 2006 and San Francisco raised 100 times more, at $117 billion.
Here’s the direct Pitchbook data. Note the column 3, funds raised, is limited to the city’s local venture firm capital raise, whereas the funds invested (column 4) includes local as well as outside venture capital invested in local startups.
Attracting VCs to Atlanta: symptom, not solution
One thing Atlanta has done well is attract a lot of outside venture capital. We’re not alone in that, however–and rank #11 in the report. Turns out that all ecosystems attract significantly more capital than they have locally, even San Francisco.
“The vast majority of funding in each region came from outside investors,” says Black, the senior analyst at Pitchbook who wrote the report. One possible hypothesis is that the local venture firms “anchor” early stage finance innovation, seed tech job growth, and create a disciplined investment structure locally that allows other funds to work well locally.
Thus, attracting outside capital is actually not a core point in creating a strong venture ecosystem–it’s a symptom. The number of local venture firms also plays a strong catalyst role in creating the startup’s opportunity to stay local and employ people or to relocate. “If founders can access sufficient capital within their home towns that have equivalently friendly business climates among other factors,” Black points out, “then there is a compelling case to stay local.” Black said the emerging cities on the list, like Atlanta or San Diego, should come up in the list by “fostering a supportive ecosystem of local investment firms” while keeping an eye on other factors like cost of living.