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article image'Hillbilly Elegy' writer J.D. Vance is seeking rustbelt startups

By Jack Derricourt     Mar 22, 2017 in Business
Writer and venture capitalist J.D. Vance is partnering up with Revolution LLC to fund startup potential outside of Silicon Valley.
Vance’s keen insights witnessed in his bestselling nonfiction book Hillbilly Elegy could serve him well as he works with Steve Case, the former chairman of AOL.
The book 'Hillbilly Elegy' was an integral part of the 2016 election. As journalists along both coasts of America tried to identify some of the deeper issues sweeping the rural and rustbelt areas of the U.S., Vance had already laid it out for them in his detailed memoir and chronicle of the social conditions being faced by poor white members of the working class in Appalachia.
Originally from Middletown, Ohio, Vance started writing his book in his third year at Yale law school, when he realized he was very much a cultural outsider in his program. He took a hard look at the social indicators that indicate just how bad things have gotten for a shocking number of white working class families: family breakdown and divorce, opioid addiction and pessimism about the future. As he states in 'Hillbilly Elegy', people are giving up in working class parts of America, and no longer believe they can get ahead. Vance sees the potential for investors to help bring talent and energy back to communities that have suffered from the loss of manufacturing jobs — but a lot has to change in order to get there.
Vance is more than just an astute researcher and influencer. He works for Mithril Capital Management, a global investment firm that focuses on technology — and that was cofounded by Peter Thiel of Paypal fame. So when he speaks about the potential for growth in these communities that are hurting, Vance is expressing a professional opinion, not just bleeding heart enthusiasm.
Vance is channelling his insight as both a proud Ohioan and a venture capitalist into a new partnership with Steve Case’s Revolution LLC. Case has been pushing for more inclusive entrepreneurship and innovation ever since he left his position as chairman of AOL Time Warner, so the partnership with Vance sits right in the established venture capitalist's wheelhouse. Vance has set up shop in Columbus, Ohio to try and bring startup investment and acceleration to other parts of the U.S. beyond Silicon Valley — something that Case's Revolution has been focussing on for a while now.
The world of Silicon Valley has been revealed as an entrenched, problematic sphere in recent months. The atmosphere of eternal optimism and futurism does have its drawbacks. Woes at Uber can be seen as symbolic of a larger issue that continues: the big names aren’t perfect in the world of startups, and more competition certainly wouldn’t hurt. Vance and Case’s efforts to expand the world of venture capital out into areas that wouldn’t normally see interest could be what’s needed for America to jumpstart the Main Street economy country-wide.
More about JD Vance, startups, Venture capital, Revolution, Revolution LLC
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