AOL Co-Founder Steve Case: The Future Of Entrepreneurship Is Between The Coasts

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<p>(AP Photo/<span data-scayt-word="Nati" data-scayt-lang="en_US">Nati</span>&nbsp;<span data-scayt-word="Harnik" data-scayt-lang="en_US">Harnik</span>)</p>
<p>Entrepreneur Steve Case poses in front of a Union Pacific locomotive as he kicks off his “Rise of the Rest” startup bus tour at a stop in Omaha, Neb., Monday, Oct. 3, 2016. “Rise of the Rest” is a nationwide effort that works closely with and invests in entrepreneurs and emerging startups. </p>
Photo: Steve Case of AOL with Mayor Michael Hancock and Governor John Hickenlooper
AOL co-founder Steve Case, center, with Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, left, and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, right, on October 4, 2016.

The future of technology startups is not exclusive to California and New York, and it will thrive in places like Denver, according to Steve Case. He knows a few things about entrepreneurship, having co-founded AOL in 1985. Case was in Colorado last week as part of a tour around the Southwest, called Rise of the Rest, to get acquainted with new companies and choose some to invest in with his firm Revolution LLC. It was Case's fifth Rise of the Rest tour in two years.

Case talked with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner about the Boulder company, called Flytedesk, that he chose to invest in; why buying into companies between the coasts could be a boon to investors; and what can be done to help companies owned by women and minorities become more successful.

Excerpts of the conversation are below.

Case on how the deck is stacked against many entrepreneurs:

"Most of the media attention is on what happens in places like Silicon Valley or New York, and in fact most of the investor attention is as well. Last year 75 percent of venture capital went to just three states: California, New York and Massachusetts...

About 90 percent of venture capital went to men, and only 10 percent to women. About one percent went to African-Americans; about one percent went to Latinos. So the playing field's not level. It does matter where you are, it does matter who you know, and it even matters what you look like. And I think that's not a good thing for the country."

On what he sees as the upcoming "third wave" of the Internet:

"The third wave is really going to integrate the Internet in a much more seamless and pervasive way, sometimes even invisible ways, throughout our lives, and I think in the process really can change in pretty fundamental ways how we stay healthy, and how our kids learn, and how we move around cities, and how we think about energy and transportation and agriculture and food and healthcare and education -- pretty big parts of our lives, pretty big sectors of the economy that haven't changed all that much in the first wave or the second wave."

On how that third wave will favor entrepreneurs outside Silicon Valley:

"I think it's really going to play to the strengths of these cities that are on the rise because some of the industries that are ripe for disruption, some of the big companies, are based in the middle of the country, not on the coasts, and as partnerships become more important in the third wave, that's going to advantage the entrepreneurs that are in the places that happen to have some expertise about that sector and potential partners. Agriculture, for example's getting a lot of attention... I know there'll be great innovations in Ag-tech in places like Louisville, Kentucky, or St. Louis, Missouri, or Lincoln, Nebraska."