Mailchimp’s $ 12 billion sale shows Atlanta’s tech courage


ATLANTA – Atlanta’s $ 12 billion sale of Mailchimp announced last week is one of the largest ever involving a local tech company and shows Atlanta’s growing strength as a tech hub.

Intuit of Silicon Valley, maker of TurboTax and QuickBooks, agreed on Monday to pay $ 12 billion in stock and cash for Mailchimp, a digital marketing company that has grown organically over more than 20 years and has never sought help from outside investors.

As part of the deal, Mailchimp employees will greatly benefit from the sale. Intuit will provide $ 300 million in restricted stock to 1,200 Mailchimp employees, including 900 in Atlanta.

Ben Chestnut, 47, one of the founders of the company, declined to say how many employees selling and disbursing shares will become Mailchimp millionaires when the deal goes through, which is expected by now at the end of January.

The sale is the latest among Atlanta startups to show how far the city has grown as a technology hub in the United States.

Kabbage, an online lender, was acquired by American Express for an undisclosed amount in 2020. The company was valued at more than $ 1 billion, according to Forbes. Atlanta-based companies Greensky and Airwatch also achieved “unicorn” status – valuations of $ 1 billion or more – and sold in 2014 and 2013, respectively. At least seven other Atlanta tech startups have achieved this rare assessment.

Chestnut told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday that he would stay with Mailchimp, which was originally a small business focused on creating email greeting cards, and that he would continue to grow it. Mailchimp will hire an unknown number of new workers, he said.

Intuit will integrate Mailchimp’s marketing, social media and communications tools into QuickBooks, which will help Intuit small business users connect with new customers, said Alex Chriss, executive vice president of Intuit.

“Our intention is pure acceleration,” Chriss said. “We see this as a massive growth opportunity and we will continue to invest in Mailchimp.”

Atlanta, like Mailchimp, developed its initial tech scene without much outside help. Some of the early tech entrepreneurs were successful and turned huge profits into funds that put money back into the local economy.

After selling the automated marketing company Pardot in 2012, Dave Cummings founded Atlanta Tech Village as a business incubator. More than 300 companies have emerged from Atlanta Tech Village, raising at least $ 1.2 billion in capital, according to the group’s website.

Alan Dabbiere started or helped launch three Atlanta tech companies that became unicorns and invested their sales money into other Atlanta startups, such as One Trust. As the process repeats itself, the number of tech entrepreneurs in Atlanta is growing, he told AJC 10 months ago.

“I think Atlanta is reaching critical mass now that we see more and more people becoming entrepreneurs,” he said.

Chestnut declined to say if he would invest his windfall in other Atlanta companies.

But longtime Atlanta tech investor Charlie Paparelli said, “Even if a small percentage of this money is put back as seed money, it’s going to transform Atlanta’s tech community.”

The region’s success is also attracting outside investors. According to venture capital finance data analytics firm CB Insights, Atlanta firms received $ 3.1 billion in funding in the first two quarters of 2021, surpassing all previous years of investments in Metro Atlanta.

Several Atlanta tech companies have recently made big investment deals, such as SalesLoft, which makes sales management software. In January, it raised $ 100 million, bringing its valuation to $ 1.1 billion, according to the company.

Atlanta’s success has also caught the attention of large, established tech companies. Microsoft is building two data centers in the metro area and plans to build a corporate campus in the Westside that could potentially accommodate hundreds of employees. The Airbnb online rental market plans to open a tech hub in Atlanta and create hundreds of jobs.

Many companies want to strengthen their minority workforce, and Atlanta has many black students and graduates with a background in technology. Atlanta was the top-ranked Southeast city last year, and in the nation’s top 10, for the quantity and quality of its tech talent, according to real estate firm CBRE.

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