Hillbilly Elegy’s J.D. Vance Raises $93M To Fund Science, Tech Startups

Bestselling Author J.D. Vance Teams Up With Peter Thiel, Others On VC Fund

Bestselling author J.D. Vance, who penned the popular memoir “Hillbilly Elegy,” has started a VC fund called Narya Capital, according to a report Thursday (Jan. 9) by Bloomberg.

Vance has backing from Peter Thiel, Eric Schmidt, Marc Andreessen and other well known Silicon Valley names. The fund has so far raised $93 million from investors, and Vance wants to raise up to $125 million in all. 

The firm has plans to invest in startups that are in the science and advanced technology spaces, and will provide checks of between $5 million and $10 million. The company will not deal with consumer-forward businesses. 

Vance and Thiel previously worked together on a fund that was called Mithril Capital. When Vance’s memoir took off, he also became a part of a fund initiated by former AOL head Steve Case.

Vance named his firm after the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien, just like Thiel has for many of his ventures, including Mithril and Palantir Technologies.

Narya Capital is named after a ring that was worn by Gandalf the wizard in the “Lord of the Rings” saga. There are numerous VC firms in the U.S., but not much investment goes to cities that aren’t in New York or California, according to the National Venture Capital Association. In 2018, California got $228 billion and New York got $56 billion. From 2004 to 2018, the amount of cash to both places tripled. In places like Ohio, during the same time period, the amount of money only increased 25 percent, to $1.5 billion.

Vance’s mission is to pour investment into what he calls America’s heartland, something he wrote passionately about in his memoir, and put to practice when he was working with Case’s Rise of the Rest fund.

Narya Capital is based out of Cincinnati and was started with Colin Greenspon, who Vance worked with  at Mithril and Rise of the Rest.