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IBM Spends Billions Betting on Atlanta

by Kristyn Back

IBM is headed for the skies and spending billions on cloud-based services to get there – an evidently smart move considering this global market is projected to reach $127 billion by 2017. Over the past year, Big Blue has been on a shopping spree, buying up companies like candy in order to pull itself out of a 14 quarter loss and pave the way for a brighter future.

In Atlanta alone, the tech behemoth has spent an upwards of $2 billion on The Weather Company (sans Channel) in addition to hundreds of millions spent on acquiring Silverpop and Clearleap. Between 2014 and 2015, IBM acquired more companies in Atlanta than any other city worldwide – another indication of the city’s growing influence as a technology leader.

A no-brainer for big business is the ease of access to powerful information that drives better decision-making, so it’s no surprise that cloud-based services are on the rise. Now imagine the power of the cloud as a vehicle for delivering data to supercomputer, Watson, and you’ve found the formula behind IBM’s latest acquisition of The Weather Company’s digital arm.

imb-wc“Weather impacts everything, like the trillions lost in business performance, so IBM’s acquisition of The Weather Company gives us a huge opportunity to leverage our platform and provide new solutions,” stated Pat Toole, Integration Executive at IBM. “We now have the opportunity to integrate The Weather Company’s technologies with our Watson cognitive platform, allowing us to not only do what The Weather Company does today but to work towards faster and more accurate prediction insights that will be beneficial to everyone in the future.”

Off the heels of The Weather Company acquisition, came IBM’s next cloud-based purchase, this time with Atlanta’s video service aficionado, Clearleap. By 2019, IBM estimates that video will make up nearly 65% of all business internet traffic. Not only has Clearleap set the industry standard for multiscreen video logistics, they’ve helped big names in the biz ranging from HBO to Verizon.

Video has grown beyond just entertainment; it is becoming a necessary part of communication for businesses in every sector,” stated Braxton Jarratt, CEO of Clearleap. “IBM sees this as an integral part of its future, and wants to better serve companies by offering cloud video services to manage and protect video assets.”silverpop-ibm clearleap

The successful acquisitions of Clearleap, Silverpop, and The Weather Company give the city more zing as a growing tech hotspot. For large companies like IBM, when they do an acquisition they look at it from a business filter,” said Chris Klaus, an Atlanta cybersecurity pioneer, who sold his company ISS to IBM for 1.2 billion in 2006.

“Atlanta is producing quality companies, so when they are ready to make a deal here, their answer is a resounding yes.”

The gravitas of these technology companies, coupled with top-tier educational institutions and a dynamic startup community (as increasingly seen at incubation spaces settling across the city), lends the city to more opportunity for acquisitions down the road. For tech giants like IBM, having some of Atlanta’s best businesses backing your future is not only a smart financial move but a seemingly safe bet for growth.


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