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A fireside chat with Steve Case at 1871

A Fireside Chat with Steve Case, Co-Founder of AOL (Blog Post)

This is a blog post I wrote after AOL Co-Founder Steve Case visited 1871, the startup hub managed by the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center (CEC).

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A Fireside Chat with Steve Case, Co-Founder of AOL

09/24/13

By Heidi Lading

When you picture a rock-star, he’s not often found in a blue button-up shirt. But this past Monday, 1871 was graced by a visit from technology rock-star, Steve Case, founder of AOL. An energetic buzz flooded the entire space as the standing-room only crowd waited for Case to appear for his fireside chat with 1871’s interim CEO, Jim O’Connor.

They touched on the Internet’s early years (when it was illegal for businesses to connect to the Net), and explored Steve’s passion for helping develop the next generation of entrepreneurs. He truly believes in the “Rise of the Rest,” meaning VC dollars should flow to entrepreneurs in cities like Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Austin, etc., rather than flowing straight to Silicon Valley.

Jim also touched on Steve’s work on immigration reform–which both men deemed vital and important since 40 percent of our Fortune 500 companies were started by immigrants–and the philanthropic reach of the Case Foundation.

There might not have been any “I ❤ Steve” signs in the crowd, but the cell phones in the air and constant stream of live tweeting said it all. And what visit from a rock-star is complete without a swarm of people (both in hoodies and suits in this case) flocking to the VIP to touch him and shove a phone number (okay, business card) in his hand.

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