Pick a hot name in business and they’re likely to be an investor in AOL founder Steve Case’s new seed fund for entrepreneurs in middle America.
Jeff Bezos(Amazon) — check. Eric Schmidt (Alphabet/Google) — check. Howard Schultz(Starbucks) — check. (Missing: Bill Gates, for now.) There are also Waltons, Kochs and Pritzkers, the founders of KKR and Carlyle Group and fashion designer Tori Burch in the fund, which has raised $150 million since filing with the SEC last month.
Case’s “Rise of the Rest” entrepreneurship tour has visited 33 U.S. cities. Now, the idea is to create a Silicon Valley-like ecosystem of support for small-town entrepreneurs across the U.S., J.D. Vance, the author of “Hillbilly Elegy” recruited by Case, told the New York Times.
The fund is not targeting social impact companies, per se. Alphabet’s Schmidt says the fund’s social impact lies in cultivating “more jobs, more wealth, better products and [helping] our society deal with a lot of jarring employment changes.”