Book Review: The Rise of the Rest written by Steve Case ’80

Jesus Amaya-Mendoza

Steve Case ’80 wrote The Rise of the Rest. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

Steve Case ’80 co-founded a web portal and online service provider AOL, runs the venture capital firm Revolution LLC, and wrote The Third Wave and The Rise of the Rest. 

Case’s The Rise of the Rest envisions an America in which Silicon Valley, New York City, and Boston aren’t the only places that promote and house startup companies. Evidenced by multiple case studies, Case argues that startups should be developed throughout the United States, as he feels investors and startup entrepreneurs are the backbone of the American economy. 

This book isn’t a “get-rich-quick” guide; it’s a suggestion of principles that startup founders should collectively implement in order for the United States to keep leading in innovation. It’s important to note that The Rise of The Rest movement isn’t meant to demote Silicon Valley, New York City, or Boston, but to inspire additional innovation in other places. This will result in startups creating job opportunities for people who want to make an impact without leaving their home cities. 

Case offers different case studies to bolster his claims. Some founders were single and young with an ability to take greater risks while others were married with multiple kids. Some sought funding right away while others funded their own companies. Some didn’t even speak English when they started their business. Regardless of their story, the founders Case describes show that no one has to have a specific set of qualities to succeed in business. Each story proved that the founders’ success wasn’t dependent on being in a startup-focused city. 

By the end, it is clear that  The Rise of the Rest isn’t exclusively about geographical location — it provides readers with a way to look for hidden opportunities, whether that be in location or industry. Case briefly mentions Warren Buffett’s preference to invest in more stabilized and mature companies, suggesting the movement wasn’t limited to companies in the tech sector. Starting or investing in companies in stable industries might be the hidden opportunity when everyone is looking for the next big thing. For example, while many young entrepreneurs focus on the next crypto coin, there might be an opportunity to start a successful restaurant or a laundromat. It’s possible that starting a stable business may put founders in a good financial position to invest in the people who seek to innovate with creations of artificial intelligence. 

The Rise of The Rest is a great way to learn from others’ mistakes and successes. Unlike academic textbooks, the case studies make it far from dull. I’m sure that you’ll identify with at least one of the founders described. It also may convince you that relocating to start a project is unnecessary. So why not start something in your hometown after graduating from the College?