How Internet Of Things Could Drive Michigan’s Economy

By Tom Walsh
Detroit Free Press.

Jay Adelson was born in Detroit, raised in Southfield, high school at Cranbrook, college at Boston University, became a serial Internet entrepreneur, CEO of Digg, and at age 37, appeared on Time magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people.

Last week, Adelson, now 44, was back in Detroit, scouting the local tech scene as cofounder of a year-old venture capital fund called Center Electric, focused on the Internet of Things.

He and partner Andy Smith are now raising $70 million to $100 million to invest in early-stage companies — and Adelson told me they expect to deploy more than half of it in Michigan.

The twosome were here last week in Michigan for an “immersion day” event, invented by Ann Arbor-based Renaissance Venture Capital Fund to help lure more investment into Michigan. Renaissance, which was created by Business Leaders for Michigan, has raised more than $120 million since 2008 to invest in national VC funds.

As part of their visit, Adelson and Smith met with Whirlpool and Roush Industries. They also met with the Techstars Mobility start-up accelerator in Detroit and with technology transfer officials at University of Michigan.

So what exactly, I asked, is the “Internet of Things?” Why is it a big deal?

And why do Adelson and Smith, a couple of Silicon Valley hotshots, think it might soon become a big driver of economic growth in Michigan?

Smith, a former executive at several tech firms and coauthor of the 2010 book “The Dragonfly Effect: Quick, Effective, and Powerful Ways to Use Social Media to Drive Social Change,” described IoT as the third wave of the Internet revolution.

The first was based on the personal computer and the second on mobile devices with screens, such as phones and iPads.

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