Sep 27, 2022 - Technology

Steve Case chronicles startup "explosion" in the heartland

The cover of The Rise of the Rest

Image: Avid Reader Press

Steve Case, AOL's co-founder, is out today with "The Rise of the Rest" — a hardcover accompaniment to his longtime passion project spotlighting blooming startup hubs outside the coastal giants.

Why it matters: He backs up his beyond-the-Valley thesis with seed + early-stage investments from his Revolution investment firm.

"I write about 29 cities in the book," Case told me. "We have visited 43 cities with our [Rise of the Rest] bus tours, and we have VC investments now in 100 cities."

  • "The key takeaway is it's not just a few cities on the rise, but a few dozen."

Case writes persuasively and excitedly about "an explosion of startup ecosystem development in dozens of cities":

From Seattle to Phoenix to Salt Lake City to Dallas to Denver to Miami and all points in between, startups are reimagining cities. The new guard is reviving declining iconic places like Detroit and Pittsburgh, once great centers of innovation that fell on hard times.

"They are electrifying smaller cities like Chattanooga and Columbus with tech innovation in critical industries such as insurance, health care, and transportation," Case continues:

They are energizing classic heartland cities like Kansas City, Green Bay, Omaha, and St. Louis with a renewed focus on the future. And they are cracking the equity code, engaging diverse populations in cities like Atlanta, Baltimore, and Tulsa in the opportunity to rebuild America.

Our thought bubble: There's a remarkable overlap between Case's startup hubs and the 24 (and soon to be 30) cities of Axios Local.

  • Our on-the-ground reporters are narrating the rise and reinvention of America's new hubs of innovation and experimentation.

Case's bottom line: "[T]he point isn’t necessarily to catch up or overcome the prominence of San Francisco, New York City, and Boston," he writes.

  • "It's for places like Detroit or Miami to flex their regional advantages and carve out their own exceptionalism."

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