Microsoft: Generational Game-Changer for ATL

Microsoft's decision to GO BIG in ATL has the potential put our city on a new trajectory; like we saw during and after the 1996 Olympics

  
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As promised, I am sharing my Google Earth Map & Tour with the ATLsherpa community first. I also wanted to let you know that I have scheduled a second (live) virtual tour for Saturday, March 27 at 10:00AM.

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Bigger than I thought…

Now that I have had a chance to digest the “Big Announcement,” I am convinced that Microsoft’s decision to purchase 90 acres in NW ATL and build a new corporate campus is even bigger and more important than I thought.

This decision to GO BIG in ATL has the potential put our city on a new trajectory; similar to what we witnessed after the 1996 Olympics.

To help people understand the significance of their decision, I created an immersive virtual tour on Google Earth. This exercise gave me a greater appreciation for what is about to happen to ATL. This is big — I mean really big!

This is the Welcome Video for my new Google Earth Virtual Tour. Check it out…

My Big “Ah-Ha” has been 35 years in the making…

I have been following Microsoft since it went public on March 13, 1986 — 35 years ago this Saturday! I was a newly minted stockbroker who had just moved to ATL after finishing up at FSU. I got a call one day from one of my clients who owned a small technology company in Norcross. He asked if I could get him shares of ‘some company’ that was about to go public. I asked him for the name and he said, “Microsoft.” I had never heard of it but assured him that I would do whatever I could to get him some shares. Before we hung up, I remember him telling me to look up something called, “MS-DOS,” which of course I did. It’s funny how you remember fleeting conversations like that after so many years.

This is what a newly minted stockbroker looked like in 1987. Photo was taken in my Buckhead office by my biggest fan (my mom) on a Saturday. That “behemoth” on the credenza behind me would have been running on MS-DOS 3.X. The big box in the wall was called a “Quotron Machine.” Yes, that’s a “Rolodex” to my left.

In any event, that IPO (initial public offering) turned out to be a “hot” stock, which means it was difficult to get shares. Somehow, I managed to fenagle 25 shares for my client. Just for curiosity, I just calculated (with the help of Microsoft’s website) how much those 25 shares, which cost him $720, would be worth today. The answer: A cool $1,683,215.


Therein lies the first clue as to why this announcement is such a big deal for ATL. This was my big “ah-ha”. The Microsoft Corporation is a generational wealth-creation machine!

Imagine (hint, hint) if every child in America was given $1,000 worth of MSFT when they were born. Those shares would be placed in an investment trust so that the child and his/her parents could NOT access the funds until the child turned 21. If we could add $1,000 per year to that trust fund, that’s even better! Now, consider what that investment fund would be worth when the kid turns 21. More importantly, think about what that would do to the wealth gap in America! I know it sounds crazy but, as Einstein said, if we want to solve the significant problems we face, we have to get to a new level of thinking. This, my friends, is a new level of thinking! MSFT is a company and its stock is a vehicle that can get us there.

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Comparative stock prices of MSFT vs DAL, EFX, GPC, HD, NCR, NSC, SO and UPS (click on image to enlarge)
Microsoft is a generational wealth-creation machine! This chart shows relative stock price gains over ten years for MSFT, DAL, EFX, GPC, HD, KO, NCR, NSC, SO and UPS. MSFT (#1) = 770% HD (#2) = 600% (click image to enlarge)

Meanwhile, back in 2021…

Obviously, I got to know Microsoft much better over the years and have been a loyal customer since I got my first personal computer which, ironically, was about the time the company went public. As you can see from the photo above, it was a behemoth of a machine!

Just to let you know that I am still a loyal customer, I am creating this newsletter on a Windows-based laptop which weights about 1/100th of the “beast” and, I’m sure, has 100,000 times as much computing power.

Microsoft is a financial powerhouse. It’s market cap of $1.7 trillion makes it the second largest company in the S&P 500. This is no ordinary company!

In addition to being a wealth-creation machine, Microsoft is extremely unique among companies in America, including the ones shown in the stock price chart above. This is a subtle but profound advantage that MSFT, alone, enjoys. Virtually every major company in the world — not to mention educational institutions and government agencies — use Microsoft products such as Office, Outlook, Teams, etc. Honestly, the term “use” does not do justice to the relationship they have with Microsoft. These businesses and organizations depend (run) on Microsoft products!

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The video above describes Microsoft Mesh, a new virtual reality platform introduced about a week ago at Microsoft Ignite 2021

In addition to their “productivity” products such as MS Word, PowerPoint, etc., Microsoft has become a leader in cloud computing and other future-advancing technologies like artificial intelligence and virtual reality. By building and providing these platforms Microsoft is helping billions of us prepare for and adapt to the Digital Age. The people of Microsoft and the innovations they bring into existence will continue to impact our lives and businesses in a profound way for the foreseeable future.

Without Microsoft’s products and services, most businesses and institutions would come to a grinding halt. This is no ordinary company that has decided to make a BIG BET on ATL by purchasing 90 acres three miles from the city’s core to build a sprawling corporate campus.

Multi-Generational Impact

While it’s still very early — given what we know today — I think we can begin to envision the impact that Microsoft will have on ATL in coming years and decades. I have summarized some of these in the chart below…

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A pioneer in CSR & ESG…

Microsoft is widely regarded as a leader it comes to corporate social responsibility (CSR) and this is exceedingly good news for ATL — especially in this age of ESG investing!

In case you don’t know, responsible investing is widely understood as the integration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into investment processes and decision-making. ESG factors cover a wide spectrum of issues that traditionally are not part of financial analysis, yet may have financial relevance. This might include how corporations respond to climate change, how good they are with water management, how effective their health and safety policies are in the protection against accidents, how they manage their supply chains, how they treat their workers and whether they have a corporate culture that builds trust and fosters innovation. Source: Forbes.com

Microsoft has been taking corporate social responsibility seriously before ESG was a “thing.” Click on the image above to download their 2020 CSR Report.

Diversity & Inclusion…

Microsoft is also committed to diversity and inclusion. More great news for ATL!

To fully understand the impact that Microsoft will have on ATL, you have to understand this company!

Click on the images above and below to learn more about Microsoft’s plans (track record) in the areas of CSR and diversity + inclusion. The links at the bottom of this newsletter will help you understand Microsoft’s vision, its business units, financial strength and plans for Atlanta. This is no ordinary company!

Bottom Line: Multi-Generational Opportunity

As discussed above, Microsoft’s financial strength and their track record of investing in communities make this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Atlanta. While the build out of Quarry Yards and Quarry Hills will unfold over the next decade, the economic and social impact of this announcement will impact our city for many generations to come.

Their decision comes at a strategic inflection point for Atlanta and especially the neighborhoods that surround this site. On many levels, Microsoft is uniquely positioned to transform NW ATL for the better.

Steve Saenz, your ATLsherpa

PS: If you enjoyed this episode of ATLsherpa, please feel free to share this with your friends, family and co-workers. Thanks!

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