J.D. Vance, whose bootstraps ballad Hillbilly Elegy was published in 2016 to wide acclaim, has raised $93 million dollars for his new Cincinnati-based venture capital fund, Narya Capital.
Hillbilly Elegy, a memoir about Vance’s dysfunctional, poverty-ridden childhood in Ohio, circulated widely among pundits following the 2016 election. Filled with colorful details about Walmart, welfare queens, and working-class resentment, the book painted a particularly one-dimensional picture of the rise of Donald Trump. (The TLDR of the book: don’t blame the government, don’t blame corporations, work harder, and maybe you, too, can go to Yale Law School.)
Vance is, however, making good on his promise to help struggling backwater Southern regions by giving those regions what they really need: VC funding concentrated in established entrepreneurial hubs with deep-seated gentrification problems.
According to a piece published by Axios today, Vance, “a strong proponent of investing in often-overlooked places,” will use the fund to “invest in startups in under-served cities such as Salt Lake City, Atlanta and Raleigh-Durham.” Axios also reports that Narya Capital, which is still in the fundraising stages, has backing from powerful figures like Peter Thiel, Marc Andressen, Eric Schmidt, and Scott Dorsey.
According to a regulatory filing, there are plans to raise as much as $125 million.
In a classic venture-capital playbook move, the company shares a name with a powerful fictional object fromThe Lord of the Rings (more specifically, in the series Narya is a ring known to empower people to resist tyranny and despair). Peter Thiel—who Vance has worked with before—previously named two of his companies, Mithril and Palantir Technologies, after objects in the J.R.R. Tolkein universe.
Meanwhile, Hillbilly Elegy, the book that launched a thousand campaign parachute reports of Appalachian working-class life, is currently being adapted into a film directed by Ron Howard. It will star Amy Adams and Glenn Close.
Narya Capital did not respond to an email from the INDY asking for comment about the specifics of the funding.
Contact deputy arts and culture editor Sarah Edwards at email@example.com.
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