Steve Case makes the case for investing outside of Silicon Valley

Steve Case, CEO of Revolution and founder of AOL, talks with Steve Clemons, Washington Editor at Large for the Atlantic at a panel in Des Moines on September 20.

Steve Case, CEO of Revolution and founder of AOL, was in Des Moines today making the case for investing in startups in places like Des Moines and other cities in the middle of the country.

Case spoke with Steve Clemons, Washington Editor at Large of the Atlantic, as part of a panel focused on the current and future state of the heartland.

“Smart people aren’t just in Silicon Valley, there are smart people everywhere, we just need opportunities everywhere,” said Case. “The next big, iconic companies will not just be on the coast. They’ll be all across the country.”

In 2014, Case started Rise of the Rest, a seed fund that focuses on companies located outside of Silicon Valley, New York and Boston. Since then he has gone on seven “Rise of the Rest” bus tours, visiting cities throughout the country to encourage entrepreneurship.

“The common factor among all of these cities is that they’re on the move, they’re on the rise,” said Case. “You can feel it. You can see it.”

Last year 75% of venture capital in the U.S. went 3 states: California, New York and Massachusetts pointed out Case, saying that Iowa received less than 1%. Case advocated having a more level playing field in terms of where this capital is flowing.

“The vast majority of the net new jobs in this country do not get created by small business or by big business,” said Case. “They get created by young, high-growth startups. If you want to create jobs in your community, you have to back startups.”

Case ended the panel with a reminder of how quickly economic dynamics can change, talking about how 100 years ago Detroit was the most innovative city in the country and Silicon Valley was mostly fruit orchards.

“It’s a pretty vivid and sober reminder of how quickly these can change and that our lead is not guaranteed,” said Case.