Philanthropic 50: Steve and Jean Case

America Online was a long time ago for Steve Case, and he would probably be uncomfortable to hear himself labeled a “historical figure.” But future historians will look on him as one of the pivotal figures of our fast moving technological age. For Case, philanthropy has to do with helping people to fulfill their own dreams and ambitions. The Case Foundation, which his wife Jean chairs and where he is CEO, searches “across issues to identify opportunities where innovation is needed to address an urgent challenge,” according to the foundation’s website. Case is also co-founder of Revolution, a $1.3 billion, District-based venture capital firm that has so far invested in 50 or more companies, and more recently Rise of the Rest, which seeks to fund startups in the Midwest and other areas judged by Case to be overlooked by investors. A Case mantra in the past few years is, “Last year, 75 percent of venture capital went to three states, California, Massachusetts and New York.” Hence his bus tours in the hinterland to hand out $100,000 tranches of seed money to would-be entrepreneurs with convincing pitches.

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