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‘Hillbilly Elegy’ author and venture capitalist J.D. Vance wants to invest in startups far away from Silicon Valley

Vance is joining Steve Case’s VC firm after the two met on Twitter.

Revolution LLC

J.D. Vance isn’t just moving to Ohio to battle the brain drain — he’s also looking to fund a few startups while he’s back in his home state.

The ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ author is joining Revolution LLC, the venture-capital outfit founded by Steve Case, as a partner who will focus on the firm’s initiative to identify and back infant companies in cities far from the tech capital of Silicon Valley.

The duo — who initially met on Twitter, Vance told me on Wednesday — want to focus specifically on “neglected areas of the country.” Their initiative will highlight “the fact you do have these regions of the country where you have a lot of talent and agency, but you have a lack of capital,” he said.

In taking on the new role, Vance won’t be leaving Mithril Capital Management, the Peter Thiel-backed fund where he’s served as a principal since April 2016. He’ll keep his title there, while splitting his time with trips to D.C. and around the country to promote his work.

Vance’s book — a memoir about his upbringing in Ohio and the poverty, substance abuse and struggles of rust belt communities — drew widespread attention upon its debut at the height of the 2016 presidential election, which hinged on similar themes. Hoping to combat some of those ills, he revealed in an op-ed published by the New York Times in March that he would be moving back to his home state. (It's also fueled speculation he might someday run for political office.)

In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s surprise victory, however, the liberal-leaning executives of Silicon Valley have commenced with their own bout of soul searching.

“The election surprised some folks in Silicon Valley, and woke them up to the fact there are a lot of people in the country who do feel left out and left behind,” Case said in an interview.

“I do believe there’s a real business opportunity,” Vance added of their new venture. If they success, he said, “a lot of other folks [may] follow.”

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