Steve Case Talks Entrepreneurship, Investing and Innovation to Sold-Out Crowd at Last Friday's NVTC Titans Breakfast

On Friday, October 14, a sold-out crowd of more than 620 attendees gathered at The Ritz-Carlton in Tysons Corner for the first NVTC Titans breakfast of the 2011-2012 season. The event featured Startup America Chairman and Revolution Chairman and CEO Steve Case discussing entrepreneurship, investing and innovation in a fireside chat with NVTC Chairman Emeritus John Backus of New Atlantic Ventures.

Startup America Chairman and Revolution CEO Steve Case
addressing more than 620 attendees last Friday.
Startup America Chairman and Revolution CEO Steve Case addressing more than 620 attendees last Friday.
As a member of the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, Case detailed the report the Council recently presented to President Barack Obama on growing companies and jobs through entrepreneurship. He shared that, over the last three decades, 40 million new jobs have been created by high-growth enterprises less than five years old. Case asserted that the nation must focus on entrepreneurship for future job growth, because "entrepreneurship is the secret sauce that makes America tick."

During the discussion, Case also addressed the global battle for talent, arguing that Congress should pass immigration legislation allowing highly skilled, foreign-born workers with high-tech diplomas from American universities to receive green cards to remain and work in the U.S. after they graduate. In his words, "the politics of the economy should take precedence over the politics of immigration." As CEO of Revolution and chairman of the Case Foundation, Case's focus is to "invest in people and ideas that can change the world." In order to improve startups' access to capital, he urged greater financial support from both the public and private sectors, including a zero percent capital gains tax on investments in early-stage companies in order to incentivize investors to take risks.

Case asserted that many big, great ideas are not overnight hits, but instead take time to develop. For example, Zipcar, in which Revolution is an investor, only recently began taking off after more than 10 years in business. Case cited AOL as another example of the need to have long-term vision. When he helped to start the company in 1992, less than 3 percent of people were online, and only for an hour a week, a statistic that has exploded over the past two decades. Case shared several lessons learned from his AOL years, including that teams matter and the importance of the three Ps – people, passion and perseverance.

The morning ended with question-and-answer session during which Case stated his belief that we are entering a second internet revolution, where companies will use the ubiquity of the internet to offer products and services that will change peoples' lives. He also discussed the importance of research and why patent reform will be the next battleground in the technology sector. Case closed by remembering the genius of Steve Jobs and describing his magic at Apple, which was to take complexity and make it simpler. "Simplicity matters," he said, in explaining how consumer companies fighting for attention can break away from the pack.