Steve Case Sees “Local Knowledge” as a Plus for Entrepreneurs Outside of Silicon Valley

(p. A15) Steve Case, a co-founder of AOL, was one of the early internet pioneers. But he is not a creature of Silicon Valley. AOL, he points out in “The Rise of the Rest: How Entrepreneurs in Surprising Places Are Building the New American Dream,” was based in the Washington, D.C., area, and many of the early tech firms, like Dell, were not started in Silicon Valley. Hence his conviction that successful entrepreneurship can happen anywhere.

. . .

Mr. Case reckons that we are entering a new phase of tech innovation. Success now requires not only software ingenuity but also industry expertise. If true, we could be due for a wave of local entrepreneurs because these are the people who are aware of the problems their communities face. Now that tech workers can work anywhere, local knowledge and expertise will be at a premium.

. . .

. . . [A] firm that Mr. Case discusses is Catalyte, a software company based in Baltimore. Founder Michael Rosenbaum was convinced that “potential talent was being overlooked by a system that valued pedigree over innate ability” and devised a hiring approach that would ignore traditional résumé points and instead match employees “according to their abilities and potential, which would be determined through carefully calibrated metrics and AI design.” To that end, Mr. Rosenbaum decided to launch his startup in Baltimore, “a postindustrial city . . . with a large, dislocated population of workers who were not connected to the future job opportunities.” His methods paid off, resulting in a diverse workforce and one that produced “off the charts” performance results.

According to Mr. Case, spurring regional entrepreneurship requires leaning on universities and building more “innovation districts.” But these zones, which contain startups, business incubators and investment funds that support one another, have a mixed record. He sees government involvement as crucial but doesn’t contend with its past failures . . .

For the full review, see:

Allison Schrager. “BOOKSHELF; Startups Across America.” The Wall Street Journal (Monday, Sept. 12, 2022): A15.

(Note: ellipses between paragraphs, and at the start or end of a paragraph, added; ellipsis within paragraph, in original. Bracketed word also added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date September 11, 2022, and has the title “BOOKSHELF; ‘The Rise of the Rest’ Review: Startups Across America.”)

The book under review is:

Case, Steve. The Rise of the Rest: How Entrepreneurs in Surprising Places Are Building the New American Dream. New York: Avid Reader Press, 2022.

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