Can the South Ever 'Out Tech' Silicon Valley?

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Silicon Valley is the tech Mecca of the world, but is there a Southern city that can potentially rival the San Francisco Bay Area?  Alexis Madrigal and Sarah Rich set out to look for the answer and share their findings through Start-Up Nation, a special report on TheAtlantic.com presented by Cadillac and Dell. 


The dynamic duo hit the road last week, first stopping in Richmond, Va. and ending in New Orleans, La., making many discoveries along the way. 

Richmond native Suzanne Davenport is an unlikely entrepreneur.  She is a mother of five, who already has had a fruitful career but is about to launch smartprojex.com, which aims to revolutionize project management.  Though Davenport is atypical, she is just one of many avant-gardists in Virginia's capital. 

Marc LaFountain, Community Director at Tumblr, says that Richmond's great university system and Fortune 500 companies make it easy to find talent.  That's possibly how Tumblr stumbled upon Garrett Ross and Jeff Rock, co-founders of Mobelux, the company that made the microblog's first mobile platform. 

Durham, N.C., a part of Research Triangle Park, also is full of success stories like Judd Bowman's.  After Bowman's first company, Motricity, went public, he launched Appia, now the sixth largest app store in the world. What is unique about this company is that most of its business is coming from outside of the United States from places such as India, Mexico, and South Africa. 

"I think Durham is one big, Groupon-like success story away from a wave of coverage about how good the area is for tech companies," Madrigal writes. 

Madrigal and Rich identify other insights and feats they found throughout their weeklong journey like the "Pixar of the iPad age."  Interested in learning which company has been dubbed with this title?  They will reveal the answer in our special report in the coming days. 

And as always, thanks to Cadillac and Dell for helping support this interesting work. 

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Click here to view images from Madrigal's and Rich's road trip 
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From the publisher

Jay Lauf is a 23-year veteran of the publishing industry with stints on both the editorial and business sides at newspapers, trade and consumer magazines, and websites. Prior to joining The Atlantic in 2008 as VP/Publisher, he was the publisher of Wired magazine.

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