Meet the Atlanta Cyber Week Influencers: Authomate’s Jeff Schmidt on Why Atlanta is a Thriving Cybersecurity City

By Jeff Schmidt, President and CEO of Authomate

I just came back from Silicon Valley and am counting the number of times I was asked, “why Atlanta?” It’s a similar question I asked myself ten years ago when I embarked on a journey to move from the Bay Area to Atlanta. I thought I would share with you some of the things I learned early on and those that I have watched over my time living, working and building a security business here in Atlanta.

One of the things that became evident quickly was the talent pool that existed here in Atlanta, more specifically the focus on security, now the broader term of cybersecurity. From the expertise that exists in the FinTech area, and if we just focus on payments, 70 percent of all U.S. payments are processed through Georgia, giving us the “Transaction Alley.” With globally recognized companies such as First Data; Global Payments; Fiserv; NCR; TSYS; Worldpay US; InComm; Equifax; and Elavon.

  • Atlanta is the third city with the most FORTUNE 500 headquarters
  • Entrepreneurial hub for more than 1,000 tech startups

Add to the above the education ecosystem, with top schools that are recognized for technology and cybersecurity, to name a few, Georgia Tech, University of Georgia, Kennesaw State, Georgia State University and others. In addition, a few hours away from Atlanta you can find great colleges focused on Cybersecurity like UNC, Clemson, Alabama and others.

Cybersecurity Talent Establishing Roots in Atlanta

I believe there is an added bonus to companies as well. The ecosystem is such that as we continue to grow, and just being ranked the fifth Tech city, with opportunity the talent tends to stay here as they establish their roots (or already have roots). Atlanta has a lot to offer personally and professionally.

I was part of a startup back in the mid-90s, International Network Services (INS), the company focused on Network Engineers, and we pulled a huge amount of talent from the military. In fact, our top executives were WestPoint Graduates. The experience with hiring military talent was amazing and, at the time, they were setting command and control centers in the middle of deserts. We had a direct recruiting team that traveled globally to military bases and hired military personnel as they shifted back to civilian wok. The culture that the direct recruiting team brought to INS was one of collaboration. We grew the company to more than 2,000 engineers globally and the business was acquired for $3.8 billion in 1999.During that time, the military hires were critical in creating a cultural shift, which in turn helped the growth of our business. I believe that the same opportunity is brewing here, between the college talent and the new U.S. Army Cyber Command headquarters at Fort Gordon, in addition to a National Security Agency located there. These two new commands coming to Georgia mean greater opportunity, more cybersecurity talent and more infusion of talent that wants to be part of the Atlanta ecosystem!

So why, as a cybersecurity professional, would I want to give Atlanta a second thought? Atlanta, and the Southeast, offers a great educational ecosystem focused in and around cybersecurity, a great ecosystem of schools, military operations focused on cybersecurity, businesses that need cybersecurity talent to protect against the cybercriminals and a wonderful place to call home! Also… Atlanta is an affordable ecosystem that enables innovation and is a great environment to start or raise a family.

Let’s Connect During Atlanta Cyber Week

Want to learn more about Atlanta’s cybersecurity ecosystem? Join us October 2 – 6 for Atlanta Cyber Week. For more information on the events of Cyber Week, visit For more information on Authomate and how we make security convenient and simple, visit