It goes without saying that most of the startups that VCs usually invest in are on either of the coasts in America. That’s something that bugged AOL’s billionaire founder Steve Case and J. D. Vance, the author of Hillbilly Elegy, a book about the industrial decline of the Midwest, reports the New York Times. They realized that since most investment goes to the coasts, startups in between–in so-called “flyover states”–don’t have a great chance to get funding to grow and thus improve their local economies. Case and Vance wanted to change that, so they got together to create a new VC fund called the “Rise of the Rest” to help spur investment in flyover startups.
The Times is calling the fund “the greatest concentration of American wealth and power in one investment fund” due to the number of huge names that have signed on to support it:
Among them: Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and now the world’s richest person; Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google’s parent, Alphabet; Howard Schultz, chairman of Starbucks; Tory Burch, the fashion mogul; Ray Dalio, founder of the hedge fund Bridgewater Associates; Dan Gilbert, the founder of Quicken Loans who has remade Detroit; Henry Kravis, the co-founder of KKR; David Rubenstein, the co-founder of Carlyle Group; Michael Milken, the financier and philanthropist; John Doerr, the venture capitalist; Jim Breyer, one of the first investors in Facebook; as well as members of three wealthy families: the Waltons, the Kochs and the Pritzkers.
Also on the list are Sean Parker, a former president of Facebook; Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx; Jeff Vinik, the Florida billionaire and sports franchise owner; Byron Trott, Warren Buffett’s favorite banker; and Adebayo Ogunlesi, the lead director of Goldman Sachs and a large infrastructure investor.
The fund currently sits at $150 million, but as with other VC investment, much of the benefit lies not only in the money startups receive, but the connections and mentoring that go along with it.