Steve Case Returns to Salt Lake City on Rise of the Rest Tour

stevecaseAOL co-founder Steve Case returned to Salt Lake City for his Rise of the Rest tour promoting entrepreneurship in the United States. The tour also supports his book, The Third Wave.

Case is a proponent of entrepreneurship and sees technology, especially high-speed internet in rural areas, as a driving factor in improving the American economy. He believes investment in entrepreneurship is too concentrated in high cost coastal cities like New York and Silicon Valley. Businesses in those areas face high costs  for real estate and payroll. Case believes developing entrepreneurship and technology skills in other parts of the country will help spread the wealth, hence the “rise of the rest.”

The Third Wave spells out the newest entrepreneurial opportunities through technology that can benefit non-technology companies. He explained the first wave happened twenty years ago when the backbone of the internet was created. Widespread adoption didn’t occur until the second wave when the backbone of the internet was built upon and made easier to use. These were primarily software developments.

The third wave, Case believes, is a wider integration of technology into society in industries we haven’t seen a lot of innovation in yet like healthcare, energy and food. Case cited the success of Facebook, Chipotle and Under Armour as examples. And Case thinks the third wave will produce a dispersion of innovation apart from the coasts.

Contrasting this opinion is Peter Thiel, the founder of PayPal. In a speech last month, Thiel said, “If you are a very talented person, you have a choice: You either go to New York or you go to Silicon Valley.” Case responded that Thiel is “arrogant and out of touch.” As an example, Case explained how Detroit was one of the biggest job producers and innovation centers of the country 50 years ago because of the auto industry. He believes the third wave will disperse opportunity to other parts of the country.

Things got political for a minute when Case was questioned about his endorsement of Hillary Clinton this past Sunday in the Washington Post. Throughout his career, Case has been purposefully neutral when it comes to politics. Answering the question, Case retreated into his chair as he very diplomatically explained why he favored Clinton without strongly criticizing her opponent. In red state Utah, supporting Clinton publicly can produce mixed reactions. Interviewer Clint Betts ad libbed, “she’s going to win.” Case then emphatically stated he wouldn’t have interjected into the race if he thought a Clinton victory was a sure thing.

This portion of the event concluded with an audience question and answer session. Some of Mr. Case’s key observations during this portion included:

  • An importance of communication within the startup community so businesses and investors can find each other better.
  • The importance of reaching out as simply as just trying to be helpful.
  • A statement about the big question of lowering barriers to entrepreneurship, particularly for women and minorities.
  • Looking toward the future on a global scale, it’s important for countries to dial in a formula of immigration, regulation and taxes while still fostering growth.

Finally, he denied any interest in running for political office, insisting he’s happy in his current position in helping create policy. Many people have said denying interest in running is usually the first step in launching a campaign.

About Nigel Swaby

Nigel Swaby
Chief Content Architect at The Startup Register.

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