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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Investor J.D. Vance has raised $93 million to start a venture capital firm, Narya Capital, based in his home state of Ohio, with fund backing from major names including Peter Thiel, Marc Andreessen, Eric Schmidt and Scott Dorsey.

Why it matters: Vance's 2017 bestselling memoir, "Hillbilly Elegy," gave voice to rural, working-class resentment in left-behind America that helped Trump win the White House, and he has been a strong proponent of investing in often-overlooked places.

  • His firm, headquartered in Cincinnati, will invest in startups in under-served cities such as Salt Lake City, Atlanta and Raleigh-Durham, according to a source familiar with the strategy.

The big picture: The majority of U.S. venture capital funding goes to California, New York and Massachusetts.

  • While such investment can play a crucial role in building fast-growing, tech-based economies like Silicon Valley, VC investors don't typically stray outside those markets to look for the next big thing.

Until recently, Vance was managing partner of the first Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, a $150 million early-stage fund as part of AOL Co-Founder Steve Case's Revolution LLC, a Washington, D.C. venture capital firm. His resume also includes working for Thiel's fund Mithril Capital in San Francisco.

  • Colin Greenspon, who was partner at Rise of the Rest Seed Fund and former managing director at Mithril, is joining Vance as co-founder and partner of Narya Capital, according to Wednesday's SEC filing.
  • Vance and Greenspon will continue as advisers to Rise of the Rest, which raised its second fund of $150 million in October.

Details: The fund, with a total target of $125 million, will essentially be a Series A fund, according to a source familiar with the strategy, focusing on writing first checks in the $5 to $10 million range.

  • The fund's leadership will likely spend a lot of time on life sciences, aerospace and defense and robotics, as well as commercializing technologies developed at research institutions, according to the source.
  • Battelle, a science and technology R&D organization based in Columbus, is one of the fund's LPs. Tech investor Ram Shiram and biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy are also LPs.
  • The approach doesn't rule out investments in established tech hubs, but will focus primarily on underserved markets, per the source.
  • Falon Donahue, who has been CEO of VentureOhio, is joining as partner. The Columbus Business Journal reported her departure from VentureOhio on Wednesday.

Between the lines: The fact that other influential tech investors signed up as limited partners suggests Vance isn't the only one who's bullish about disruption happening between the coasts.

Go deeper: Ohio's venture capital boom lures startup founders

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
1 hour ago - Technology

Axios interview: Facebook to try for more transparency

Nick Clegg last year. Photo: Matthew Sobocinski/USA Today via Reuters

Nick Clegg, Facebook's vice president of global affairs, tells me the company will try to provide more data to outside researchers to scrutinize the health of activity on Facebook and Instagram, following The Wall Street Journal's brutal look at internal documents.

Driving the news: Clegg didn't say that in his public response to the series. So I called him to push for what Facebook will actually do differently given the new dangers raised by The Journal.

The Exvangelicals

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Even as evangelicals maintain their position as the most popular religion in the U.S., a movement of self-described "exvangelicals" is breaking away, using social media to engage tens of thousands of former faithful.

The big picture: Donald Trump's presidency, as well as movements around LGBTQ rights, #MeToo and Black Lives Matter, drew more Americans into evangelical churches while also pushing some existing members away.

Updated 8 hours ago - Science

Huge wildfire reaches edge of Sequoia National Park

A plume of smoke and flames rise into the air as the fire burns towards Moro Rock during the KNP Complex fire in the Sequoia National Park near Three Rivers, California, on Saturday. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Firefighters in Sequoia National Park were working into the night after two wildfires merged to reach the Giant Forest Saturday.

Why it matters: This forest contains over 2,000 giant sequoias, including the General Sherman Tree — the world's largest tree by volume. Park officials wrapped the redwoods in foil last week as the Paradise and Colony Fires, now known as the KNP Complex Fire, neared. Protection efforts appeared to be working overnight.