"Startup Cities Are Everywhere" says AOL Founder Steve Case

Silicon Valley, the pride of America and envy of the world, home to the many companies that have completely revolutionized technology and our daily lives. Though nobody would argue that Silicon Valley’s influence is beyond expansive, it sometimes tends to overcast (much like the bay area fog) some other startup hubs. That is the goal of Rise of the Rest a movement supported by Revolution, Up Global and Startup Grind to highlight and assist other cities outside of the Silicon Valley find their entrepreneurial spirit.

Steve Case is no stranger to the world of startups. From founding America Online or better known as AOL in 1985, to being the first internet company to go public, to the largest merger in history with Time Warner, Steve is a world class entrepreneur. He also goes above the call of duty, by aiding in finding the next entrepreneurs through Revolution his venture capital fund investing in people and companies that are changing the world and champion for policies in the capitol hill to help the innovative world of startups. Steve sat down with Derek Anderson at the Rise of the Rest stop in Richmond, Virginia to discuss startups, there future all over the world, and what is next for the 3rd wave of technology.


The 3rd wave of the internet
Throughout the interview, the overall theme we can see while Case answers questions is community. AOL began to become a community at a time when only 3% of people were online. They revolutionized this by creating a community where people could discuss through chat rooms and instant messaging and with the guiding light of making it simple (simple enough that his mother could use it so that the internet could become a place for techies and non techies alike. Even when Case faced the challenge by competitor Microsoft of either acquisition, merger or being crushed by their fierce rival, he stuck to this guns and did not sell knowing that AOL was only in it’s first inning. It is Case’s entrepreneurial intuition that has made him success with his own company and with finding entrepreneurs like himself who crave this innovation and hunger for success.

Case is now trying to expand the startup community past the bay area as we begin the 3rd wave of the internet where technology is going to be integrated into important aspects of society such as agriculture, transportation, education, health and much more. The Silicon Valley is not the epicenter of these industries, rather places like Louisville, Kentucky for agriculture and health industry in Nashville. With 75% of venture capital going only to California, Massachusetts, and New York last year, it is time for the other 47 states to get some attention for their hubs of innovation.

                                                                                                                     rise of rest bus

There was Silicon Valleys before Silicon Valley 

Innovation is fluid. The US had their own Silicon Valley’s before Sand Hill Road was an important address. Pittsburgh in the industrial revolution was the hub for its production of steel and Detroit was the center of the world when cars was the technology the world was after. But with times and more communications things have globalized, manufacturing went abroad, then so did finance and slowly these great American cities lost their entrepreneurial mojo as Case calls it. Now with Rise of the Rest, we must aid these entrepreneurs in reviving the entrepreneurial energy of their cities whether these entrepreneurs are from that city, coming back after time in the valley or moving there for the advantages of lower costs. Thus Silicon Valley is likely to stay important, but it is no way guaranteed to stay at top of innovation so we must make sure to avoid becoming compliant and continue to be imaginative and innovative.

So how we can help cities regain their entrepreneurial spirit? We can look to Steve Case’s model with Rise of the Rest and invest in companies outsides of the Silicon Valley. We can continue to lobby for bills and laws that will help reform the US to better compete for the competition of global talent. We can remember that success and revolution of industries like health, education and more will occur all over the US and all over the world, but this change will not be a quick process. And most of all, we can follow his entrepreneurial spirit like he did with his little yellow running man to make the startups of the 3rd wave as innovative and revolutionary as they can be.



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