IBM, HP, Intel-even Facebook - are all investing serious dollars to promote the program, which focuses on increasing the number of new high-growth firms that are creating economic growth, innovation and jobs. Intel has pledged $200 million, which will go to startups and companies working on emerging technologies such as cloud computing, mobile video and gaming. IBM, meanwhile, will contribute $150 million to be used to educate and mentor businesses and software developers and promote software-related businesses. HP, which did not specify how much it was investing in the program, plans to focus on providing resources for startups and small businesses in the pharmaceutical, clean technology, printing technology, mobile applications and cloud services spaces.
It is perhaps the largest, privately funded effort at jobs creation to date (historians no doubt will ping me on that comment), and the fact that technology companies are playing such a critical role is no surprise. Technology is the main driver of our success-behind every market leader is a technology helping drive its success, from the local, environmentally-friendly dry cleaners, to the regional dairies, to the international shipping services-none would be able to do what they do best without the help of technology.
Of course, I could look at this initiative from a purely altruistic point of view-these vendors want to help get our country back on track and are willing to pony up the resources to make that happen-but of course, I'm a realist. I have yet to meet a company that doesn't work the angles, look at a situation such as this and immediately ask, 'What's in it for us?' These companies no doubt will be following the efforts of their funded companies and look for complementary-and even conflicting-technologies that they can add to their collective bag of tricks.
But that's okay, that's called progress and that's what eventually makes those garage tinkerers billionaires. I have high hopes for Startup America, especially since its founding partners, The Kauffman Foundation and The Case Foundation, have done much to promote not only innovation but also the human condition. To have those two organizations lead this effort is a signal that the vendors backing Startup America are investing to both reap the technological fruits and make a difference in the lives of entrepreneurs. After all, solid funding is often as important as blood, sweat and tears in making a dream a reality.