The Case 4 Steve Case

“You’ve got mail. “  That was Steve Case’s pick-up line; his one-liner drawing millions to the mainstream of e-mail when the World Wide Web was just a wee wonder.

He got rich —on floppy-disks;  later  upgrading  to CD-ROM[S]—a generous Direct Mail distribution strategy ; verging on the ‘excessive’ which put the company he co-founded — America Online — front-of-mind even amongst  the most backward of desktop-users and techno-phobic Internet aspirants.

But time can be a teacher; even a sage.  And he is.

Ingenuity 2011; a two-day event  organized and sponsored by the New York Venture Capital Association and NYSE Euronext @ October’s commencement provided more than a glimpse of Steve Case.  Featured @ Thursday’s, October 6 Lunch & Keynote- Hosted by Silicon Valley Bank, Mr. Case submitted to a series of inquiries curated and directed by Habib Kairouz [Rho Capital Partners].

Initially, I readied myself @ my front-row seat.  Skeptical, a man of Kairouz’s venture capital prominence and preparation could sufficiently deliver the flavored nuances of such an ‘interrogation’ I anticipated the same-old-same-old:  Having to ask the questions which were not asked.

“Vulture Capitalist”  he may be;  but fair is fair:  Kairouz leaned into Case’s sails hoisting multiply germane queries drawing from his own mind; pronounced confidence; and experience sparing the audience and press any one-up-man-ship or whiff of arrogance.

“What do you look for in an entrepreneur?” Kairouz began.  “Confidence, passion, humility, belief in the future, the next “Big Idea,” Case explained. 

Steve Case isn’t all talk.  He leads by example; he is a principled man of action.  One need not Google for long [or attend such privileged events such as Ingenuity 2011]:

Case serves on President Obama’s Start-Up America which was launched in January of this year meant to encourage and assist the “next generation of entrepreneurs” and establish “regional eco-systems.”  The initiative says Case is “meant to provide a road-map around entrepreneurship.”

Presently, “there is a Global battle for talent.”  “Let’s make it easier to raise money,” says Case.  Smarter government is the necessary rubric to move America forward.

In Case’s world; Capitalism needs a make-over; errr — do-over.   And with Revolution   he seeks to proceed accordingly. 

Most committed is he to enterprise East of the Missisippi —ZipCar being one recent example.  “Asset-sharing use and experience” he wagers,  is the ‘new’ future.  Similarly, ‘local’ or “social commerce” will [and should] drive branding and “customer trials.”

 Ever heard of LivingSocial?  Steve Case is pumped about it.  His name, money and reputation are behind it.  So live.  And most importantly; be Social.


he Cooper Hewitt’s [ ] October 1976 International exhibition Aspects of Design;  conceived by Hans Hollein and sponsored by The Johnson Wax Company [] showcased the perspectives of 10 men; a veritable calculus of vision and imagination made tangible by a thin, bound-paper companion, which I possess; now slightly yellowed — smelling deliciously of age, wisdom, creativity and intellect.

Flipping through its 172 pages — titled:  MAN transFORMS, I feel a rush; a high; addicted as I am to history and time and my sense of place 35 years later.

Tasked with writing the Introduction; George Nelson [] begins:

"The real meaning of big words — important words —are often hard to nail down.   Think of “freedom,” “democracy,” “inalienable rights,” and the range of images they evoke.
. . . The myriad categories of design are another example of the proliferation of specialties split off from once-unified disciplines.  Science splits into biology, to take one field, which is then fragmented into splinters like biophysics, biochemistry, molecular biology and so on.  We live in a technological Tower of Babel where each individual is full of answers, but unable to pass them on to anyone outside the specialty.” 

 We know; and must squarely recognize without another click — or TRANSposition of our chosen browser — the Internet, the Web — Digital Life has transFORMED Us; upending Nelson’s 20th Century parameters and ‘limitations’  while catapulting us to what some have called “pro-Democracy” movements; and still others “Citizen Occupations.”

Joan Didion;   one of America’s most incisive and exacting writers became quite famous [and remains so today] by reporting on what she observed:

  "Where are we heading, they asked it in all the television and radio studios.  They asked it in New York and Los Angeles and they asked it in Boston and Washington and they asked it in Dallas and Houston and Chicago and San Francisco.  Sometimes they made eye contact as they asked it. Sometimes they closed their eyes as they asked it.  Quite often they wondered not just where we were heading but where we were heading “as Americans,” or “as concerned Americans,” or as “American women,” or on one occasion “as the American guy and the American woman.” [On The Road, 1977]

Didion began her ‘real-time’ 2006 narrative: The Year of Magical Thinking in this way:

Life changes fast.
Life changes in the instant.

 @ Issue in 1976 —
As the World Wide Web insists it remains today—
Change    .
Drilling Down:

paper or plastic?

Paper Industry hold-over [Holyoke, Massachusetts]