SAN FRANCISCO — Best-selling author JD Vance and AOL co-founder Steve Case are taking a road trip through America’s heartland this fall.
This isn’t a buddy picture conjured by Hollywood screenwriters, but a serious campaign to drum up interest in tech start-ups not based in Silicon Valley, New York, Boston, Seattle and other coastal tech hubs.
Case, co-founder of the Washington, D.C.-based venture capital firm Revolution LLC, started the crusade with Rise of the Rest, a 3-year-old nationwide initiative to support and promote entrepreneurs in emerging start-up ecosystems.
Vance, a technology investor who signed on to Rise of the Rest in March, reached an even larger audience with Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. His reflections on the struggling white working class in eastern Kentucky and an Ohio town pummeled by the decline of a steel-making company provided insights into President Trump’s appeal with those who live in so-called flyover country.
Both Case and Vance believe in the power of the technology industry to breathe new life into the American Dream in places where it has been slipping away for decades.
“The feeling is out there and again the data suggests it’s not just a feeling, it’s kind of a reality. Because you are only backing the entrepreneurs in places like Silicon Valley that are disrupting industries, sectors and companies in the middle of the country, but you are not at least partially offsetting that by backing entrepreneurs in those cities who could be creating companies that create jobs,” Case said. “It’s not surprising that we have a disconnect and a problem and a lot of people who are fearful of the future and not eager to embrace the future.”
The seven city, five-state tour starts in Pennsylvania on Oct. 10 and wends its way through…