Tag: Billionaire

Meet Billionaire Politician Tom Steyer’s Wife, A Pioneering Impact Investor On A Mission To Spend $1 Billion Righting Society’s Wrongs

Kat Taylor started a bank, a venture capital firm and an agribusiness to use capitalism’s toolbox to fight systemic racism, environmental destruction and economic inequality.

On March 1st, as she gathered with thousands of others to march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama on the 55th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, Kat Taylor burst into a rendition of Aretha Franklin’s “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man.” These days, Taylor is best known as the singing spouse of billionaire climate change activist and ex-Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer. But in the world of impact investing, she’s famous in her own right for the breadth and ambition of her efforts, as well as her musical shtick. Indeed, Taylor’s efforts are the big reason the couple made the Forbes Impact 50 for 2020.

Way back in 2007 (the stone age in impact investing), Taylor and Steyer launched an idea they’d talked about for years: use a charitable foundation to start a bank that would lend to nonprofits and do-gooder businesses and direct its profits back to their environmental and community charitable causes. With Taylor as CEO, Beneficial State Bank has grown into a $1.1 billion institution with 13 branches stretching from Washington to Southern California. The couple has put $110 million of charitable donations into Beneficial, which has $760 million in loans outstanding to its target market, though it hasn’t yet paid out dividends to the foundation. (Taylor is now Beneficial’s chair, having stepped away from the CEO job in January to campaign with Steyer.)

Meanwhile, Taylor has been pursuing an even more in-the-weeds environmental project: turning the 1,800 acre grass-fed cattle ranch 40 miles south of San Francisco that she and Steyer acquired in 2002 into a model for “regenerative” agriculture, focused on water and land quality as well as humane animal treatment. Before the pandemic, the TomKat Ranch was seeing steady sales of its prime LeftCoast Grassfed beef brand, collecting data on soil health, running on-site workshops and lobbying big buyers like schools and hospitals to demand regenerative food. Since the pandemic, it has shifted to hosting virtual webinars and has donated chickens and coops to struggling senior homes and food banks. While the couple has invested tens of millions into the ranch, it has yet to turn a profit. 

Finally, there’s what Taylor hopes will become her biggest impact play of all, Radicle Impact, a for-profit venture capital firm she co-founded in 2013 to invest in “good food, good money and good climate.” Radicle has so far poured $45 million, almost entirely from Taylor and Steyer, into 27 portfolio companies—everything from fintechs like LendUp and Aspiration to local farm company Hudson Valley Harvest to Aclima, which creates pollution sensing networks and UrbanFootprint, a seller of city planning software. But ultimately, Taylor hopes to deploy $1 billion in impact money, both from her family’s fortune and from outside investors, through Radicle—and to make real money doing it.

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Billionaire Wealth Hits $10 Trillion For First Time Ever Thanks To Government Stimulous

Coronavirus has boosted total billionaire wealth to its highest level ever. Since the pandemic begun, the total wealth held by billionaires around the world has grown by a quarter to over $10 trillion.

The landmark co-insides with another in the billionaire world, that of the world’s first ever $200 billionaire. Jeff Bezos’s net worth crossed the $200 mark in August, just when UBS and PwC were tallying up the data for its annual report on billionaires.

That report, released on Wednesday (7 October), shows that collective billionaire wealth has grown at its fastest rate over any period over the past decade.

Between April and July, billionaires grew their wealth by 27% from $8 trillion at the beginning of April. This was largely thanks to government stimulus packages.

“Billionaire wealth is loosely correlated with equity markets,” notes the ‘Riding the Storm’ report co-published by UBS and PwC. “From the end of March, governments’ huge fiscal and quantitative easing packages drove a recovery in financial markets.”

Over half of the stocks and shares owned by American households are held by the richest 1% according to research by Goldman Sachs
in February. As markets rise, as they have done since March, the wealthiest therefore see the biggest gains.

The CARES Act coronavirus relief package has only helped those gains. A loophole in March’s legislation allowed millionaires to benefit to the tune of about $1.7 million from the government. A further 133 large companies have since received $5 billion from the Treasury Department.

In the U.K., government stimulus packages worth over £16 billion ($20.6 billion) have gone directly into billionaire-owned companies, data in June revealed.

“This pandemic has magnified every existing inequality in our society,” says one billionaire, Melinda Gates, in launching the Gates Foundation Goalkeepers report last month.

Billionaires Donate Record Amounts, For Now

As well as boosting their wealth, coronavirus has also increased the donations of billionaires. UBS and PwC’s research finds they are giving more now than at any time in history.

The duo also note “that is likely to be only a fraction of the overall amount, given a tendency towards discretion.”

Over three quarters of wealthy families prefer to donate discretely, according to a separate study published on Tuesday (6 October).

“Their preference for discretion does mean that the extent of their societal contribution is however not always recognised,” says Guy Hudson, partner and head of marketing at Stonehage Fleming, a multi family office which published the ‘Four Pillars of Capital’ report.

But when asked, “Do you expect to give away more this year, as a result of COVID-19, than in previous years?” over half of respondents to Stonehage Fleming’s study said “No.”

UBS and PwC also found that charity was likely to be temporary. When they asked billionaires about their plans for the next 12 months, philanthropy was at the top of few agendas.

Instead, “succession

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