By Péralte C. Paul
To get a good idea of what the next step is likely to be in the Internet’s evolution, look to Atlanta. So said Steve Case, the entrepreneurial pioneer, who, through his co-founding of Aol, made the Web an accessible and integral part of daily life.
“I think Atlanta is quite well positioned for what I think is the third wave of the Internet. Its not going to just be about product, it’s also going to be about partnerships,” Case said recently during a May 7 tour of Atlanta. “I think is going to be about taking the Internet and integrating it in a much more seamless and pervasive way in every aspect of our lives.”
Case, now chairman and CEO of Revolution, the Washington, D.C.-based investment firm he co-founded in 2005, was in Atlanta as part of his Rise of the Rest tour.
The tour, which included a number of American cities — New Orleans, St. Louis, Detroit, and Madison, Wis., among others — is designed to highlight the innovations taking place outside of the technology strongholds of New York, Boston, and San Francisco.
While in Atlanta, he visited Atlanta Tech Village, Opportunity Hub, the Ponce City Market, and Tech Square. He made his remarks during a luncheon hosted by the AT&T Foundry, one of several Fortune 500 companies that opened corporate innovation centers at Georgia Tech.
“It’s an attempt to try to showcase the great innovation and the great entrepreneurs happening all over the country,” Case said at the luncheon. “You may know about the entrepreneurs in Atlanta — most people don’t. And that’s true for the rest of the country.”
Indeed, he said he wants to highlight what’s going on outside of New York, Massachusetts, and California. The three states took 75 percent of the available venture capital funds last year.
By recognizing what’s happening in cities outside those three states, Case hopes more venture capital funds flow to the rest of the country. In Atlanta, he noted the collaborative community that exists between large companies and startups is a strong differentiator.
“What you’re trying to do here around partnership is a big deal; not everybody recognizes it,” Case said.