Steve Case, AOL founder and venture capitalist, is convinced the future of American startups lies outside of Silicon Valley.
In April, he’ll head to Florida and Puerto Rico to prove it.
“So much is happening” in Florida, Case told Business Insider, that it made sense to spend more time than usual in a single state. During his last scouting tour there, he said, “it felt like Florida was the place to go.”
As for Puerto Rico, he and his team only decided a couple of months ago to head to the island, and Case’s friend José Andrés, the chef and philanthropist who has been active there since Hurricane Maria hit in 2017, also urged him to bring the tour. Andrés will be accompanying Case and his team for their PR trip. “Now it’s time to focus more on longterm recovery, and that’s going to require creating a stronger startup culture there,” Case said.
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Case is the CEO of the Washington, DC-based venture capital firm Revolution, and for the past five years he’s been overseeing its “Rise of the Rest” initiative. Investments in Silicon Valley, New York City, and Boston account for about 75% of all investments made in the United States, but Case believes the “third wave” of internet companies are going to flourish outside of them.
The first wave of foundational internet companies and the second wave of app-based and social media companies benefitted from these locations, but Case sees the next leaders of what’s essentially a shift from “internet of things” to “internet of everything” to be scattered throughout America, tied to their region’s strongest industries.
The Rise of the Rest is an ongoing initiative that maintains partnerships throughout the country, but each new city or region gets a bus tour visit culminating in a $100,000 pitch contest. The prizes from the first several tours were personally funded by Case, but beginning with the last tour have come from a $150 million seed fund that includes limited partners like Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio, former Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman, and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
The tour will hit the following stops, exploring local industries in each. For the Space Coast, a region on the east coast based around NASA centers, it will host a pitch competition from aeronautics entrepreneurs around the country, a first for the tour. The tour’s next stops:
And here’s where the tour has been so far:
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