Warren Buffett Resigns from the Gates Foundation.

Mr. Buffett, a longtime friend of Mr. Gates, did not give a reason for his action, which comes weeks after the couple announced their divorce.

#berkshire-hathaway-inc, #buffett-warren-e, #gates-bill-and-melinda-foundation, #philanthropy


Why the Hollywood Elite Are Giving to Los Angeles Schools

Tuesday: A group including George Clooney is set to start a film and television school in the city’s public school district.

#beutner-austin, #clooney-george, #education-k-12, #los-angeles-calif, #philanthropy


George Clooney’s New Cause: A Public High School in Los Angeles

The actor and other stars will start a school to train teenagers for jobs in Hollywood, the latest in a series of entertainment industry donations to city schools.

#black-people, #careers-and-professions, #clooney-george, #creative-artists-agency, #darling-hammond-linda, #education-k-12, #kaling-mindy, #longoria-eva, #los-angeles-calif, #magnet-schools, #nicole-avant, #philanthropy, #washington-kerry


Elon Musk and His Fellow Billionaires Are Not Superheroes

The American idealization of wealthy mavericks isn’t confined to the pages of comic books. 

#bezos-jeffrey-p, #comic-books-and-strips, #gates-bill, #high-net-worth-individuals, #income-inequality, #marvel-entertainment, #musk-elon, #philanthropy, #scott-mackenzie, #zuckerberg-mark-e


MacKenzie Scott Announces $2.74 Billion in New Grants

Ms. Scott’s wealth has continued to grow thanks to Amazon’s soaring stock price. Forbes estimates her net worth at roughly $60 billion.

#amazon-com-inc, #bezos-jeffrey-p, #finances, #high-net-worth-individuals, #nonprofit-organizations, #philanthropy, #scott-mackenzie


Warren Buffett and the Myth of the ‘Good Billionaire’

There is no way to be a billionaire in America without taking advantage of a system predicated on cruelty.

#buffett-warren-e, #gates-bill, #high-net-worth-individuals, #income-inequality, #income-tax, #philanthropy, #propublica


Black Ties and Polka Dots at the New York Botanical Garden

And Pioneer Works hosts a dinner with Maggie Gyllenhaal, Peter Sarsgaard and David Byrne.

#deville-abigail, #fashion-and-apparel, #gyllenhaal-maggie, #new-york-botanical-garden, #parties-social, #philanthropy, #pioneer-works-center-for-art-and-innovation-brooklyn-ny, #thomas-mickalene, #yellin-dustin


How Long Should It Take to Give Away Millions?

The promise of philanthropy was that the wealthy could enjoy tax breaks for their charitable contributions. The pandemic laid bare how accumulation can trump getting money to those in need. A Senate bill aims to change that.

#arnold-john-douglas-1974, #bezos-earth-fund, #fidelity-charitable-gift-fund, #grassley-charles-e, #high-net-worth-individuals, #king-angus-jr, #law-and-legislation, #philanthropy, #tax-credits-deductions-and-exemptions


Foster Friess, Big Donor to Republicans, Dies at 81

A conservative Christian and wealthy businessman, he gave millions to Rick Santorum and Donald Trump in their presidential bids.

#brandywine-fund, #campaign-finance, #deaths-obituaries, #elections-governors, #friess-foster-s, #high-net-worth-individuals, #philanthropy, #republican-party, #santorum-rick, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-politics-and-government, #wyoming


They’ve Given $6 Million to the Arts. No One Knew Them, Until Now.

Moving quickly in the pandemic, a wealthy money manager underwrote performances via a new foundation, with a little help from a violin-obsessed adviser.

#alphadyne-foundation, #balletx, #classical-music, #dance-theater-of-harlem, #dweck-jay, #kaufman-music-center-manhattan-ny, #khuong-huu-philippe, #national-sawdust-brooklyn-ny-performance-space, #nonprofit-organizations, #perlman-music-program, #philanthropy, #shakespeare-in-the-park


Mount Sinai Seeks to Expand School Virus Testing Program

The health system, which is preparing to open a new laboratory that could process 100,000 tests a day, wants to take its program to public schools this fall.

#ackman-william-a, #charter-schools, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-reopenings, #education-k-12, #knowledge-is-power-program, #mount-sinai-medical-center, #new-york-city, #paniz-mondolfi-alberto, #philanthropy, #tests-medical, #your-feed-health, #your-feed-science


Why Did We Think Bill and Melinda Gates Could Fix the World?

The Gates divorce is prompting people to ask hard questions about the foundation. Good.

#gates-bill, #gates-bill-and-melinda-foundation, #gates-melinda, #high-net-worth-individuals, #philanthropy, #vaccination-and-immunization


Their Daily Miracle: Getting 8 Tons of Food to the Needy, Every Day

An army of “food rescuers” in New York try to make the best of an inherently wasteful grocery system.

#brooklyn-nyc, #food-banks-and-pantries, #food-insecurity, #long-island-ny, #philanthropy, #queens-nyc, #soup-kitchens, #volunteers-and-community-service


Taking Art to the Streets, Just Look Down

Aided by grants, artists are creating ground murals and other projects on roadways, underpasses and in public squares.

#area-planning-and-renewal, #art, #asphalt, #chattanooga-tenn, #culture-arts, #infrastructure-public-works, #kansas-city-mo, #murals, #philanthropy, #reno-nev, #urban-areas


The Gateses’ Public Split Spotlights a Secretive Fortune

Their marital estate is enormous and complex, containing assets as varied as stocks and farmland. Divvying it up could have implications for philanthropy.

#amazon-com-inc, #asset-allocation-personal-finances, #bezos-jeffrey-p, #buffett-warren-e, #cascade-investment-llc, #computers-and-the-internet, #endowments, #four-seasons-hotels-ltd, #gates-bill, #gates-bill-and-melinda-foundation, #gates-melinda, #high-net-worth-individuals, #hotels-and-travel-lodgings, #philanthropy, #scott-mackenzie, #stocks-and-bonds, #suits-and-litigation-civil


A Soaring Arts Scene in Los Angeles Confronts a Changing Landscape

Its cultural institutions, buffeted by the pandemic, will have to recover without the help of Eli Broad, the transformational benefactor who died last month.

#art, #broad-museum-los-angeles-calif, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #disney-walt-concert-hall, #los-angeles-calif, #los-angeles-county-museum-of-art, #los-angeles-museum-of-contemporary-art, #los-angeles-philharmonic, #philanthropy, #zumthor-peter


Donations to India Get Blocked by Modi’s Tough New Rules

International donors are raising millions, but the Modi administration has erected hurdles for overseas organizations and guided money toward officially endorsed groups.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #finances, #foreign-aid, #india, #international-relations, #modi-narendra, #philanthropy, #politics-and-government


Bloomberg Gives $150 Million to Help Universities Diversify STEM Doctorates

The initiative, which will benefit Johns Hopkins and six other institutions, will be named in honor of Vivien Thomas, best known for his work treating “blue baby syndrome.”

#asian-americans, #black-people, #bloomberg-philanthropies, #bloomberg-michael-r, #daniels-ronald-j-1959, #hispanic-americans, #historically-black-colleges-and-universities, #howard-university, #johns-hopkins-university, #morehouse-college, #philanthropy, #prairie-view-am-university, #race-and-ethnicity, #spelman-college, #thomas-vivien, #tuition, #united-states, #university-of-maryland-baltimore-county


The Separate Worlds of Bill and Melinda Gates

They built an empire that was essential in the pandemic. Now, their impending divorce makes personal a shift that confidants say was well underway in their philanthropic roles.

#buffett-warren-e, #content-type-personal-profile, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #divorce-separations-and-annulments, #gates-bill, #gates-bill-and-melinda-foundation, #gates-melinda, #philanthropy, #scott-mackenzie, #vaccination-and-immunization


Sandra Bernhard Talks to Her Neighborhood Trees

And how Thelma Golden and Isaac Mizrahi have stayed sane and creative during the pandemic.

#bernhard-sandra, #golden-thelma, #parties-social, #philanthropy, #quarantine-life-and-culture


Court Overturns Fraud Conviction of Corrine Brown, Ex-U.S. Representative

Corrine Brown, a Florida Democrat who served more than two years in prison after being found guilty of running a sham charity, was granted a new trial by a federal appeals court.

#appeals-courts-us, #brown-corrine, #democratic-party, #florida, #frauds-and-swindling, #house-of-representatives, #jacksonville-fla, #jury-system, #philanthropy, #united-states-politics-and-government


Emergence Capital cofounder Jason Green on transitioning out of the firm, and what’s next

Succession is a major issue for many venture firms. Institutional investors, founders — even reporters — often get attached to individual members of a team, and when one of those individuals, particularly a firm cofounder, decides to hang up his cleats, it can be tricky for the rest of the partnership if it hasn’t planned far enough ahead.

For its part, Emergence, a highly successful enterprise-focused venture firm, has been thinking about succession for at least the last decade, suggests Jason Green, who cofounded the outfit with Gordon Ritter and Brian Jacobs in the winter of 2002. While Jacobs spun out a few years ago to cofound a seed-stage fund called Moai Capital, Green says been very focused on hiring the right younger investors who Emergence expects will one day steward the firm.

Certainly, that planning seems to be paying off. Emergence’s institutional investors just committed $950 million collectively to the firm, which yesterday announced it had closed two new funds. And they did this even though Green, who has enjoyed the highest profile of the team, let them know he is ready to move on to new endeavors. We talked with Green about that decision, and what’s he’s planning next, earlier this week. Our chat has been edited for length and clarity.

TC: A lot of your peers are starting to segue out of their longtime venture roles, but a lot are sticking around. What was the impetus for you?

JG: Well, I’m not leaving; I would say I’m transitioning to a different role. I’m still on eight boards and going to be actively involved in mentoring. But it’s the kind of thing we planned when we started the firm. We wanted to build an enduring franchise and grow from within and ultimately have the founders kind of step aside and let the next generation take over. Gordon is obviously still fully engaged, but it felt like the right time [for me to do this]. The firm is in such a great position, and you know, for me personally, I’ve been doing this for 30 years and I’ve achieved a lot — probably more than I expected, frankly — and I’m interested in having an impact in some other ways going forward.

TC: What’s the plan?

JG: I started a family foundation that’s going to be doing philanthropic work in a few areas of interest — climate change, ending mass incarceration, working on homelessness, working on educational opportunities for disadvantaged youth. I’m also excited to become an LP in emerging funds run by diverse managers. I’ve [invested in] half a dozen teams with African American leads or female leads or Latino leads, but while our industry has made some progress over the last, whatever, 10 to 15 years, it’s not nearly enough.

When I think about how slow it is to hire somebody and groom them from within — generally that’s the way we’ve done it in Emergence — the only way to really accelerate [the creation of more] firms that are started and led by diverse folks who are likely to invest in diverse founders [is to actively help them] and that’s somewhere where I think I can move the needle. I’ve been at three venture firms and started one from scratch, so for me, in some ways I feel even more confident [in] coaching and mentoring other emerging managers than I do entrepreneurs.

TC: Are you modeling this transition after anyone you know and admire?

JG:  A guy who has been a mentor of mine for many years is Russ Carson, who started [the private equity firm] Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe. He has kind of become a role model of what I’d like to do for the next phase of my career. He’s on the boards of Rockefeller University and funded charter schools and been really impactful in the community.

I definitely have interest in supporting the local community in the Bay Area, but I also think some of these [areas I’ll be focusing on] are almost global in scope, and part of [leaving Emergence] is having the freedom to just be curious and learn about things as I go and then figure out where where I can make a difference and have some fun along the way.

TC: Did you and Gordon arm wrestle over who’d get to bounce first? 

JG: [Laughs.] Yeah, we’re around the same age. I think the difference is that I’ve been in the venture business 30 years and he’s been in the business 15 years; he really started in the venture business with Emergence and I think he’s totally jazzed to stay totally in the game for the foreseeable future [whereas] I’m reading to shift from hunting to farming.

TC: Any advice for other firms that are contemplating how to handle succession?

JG: We hired somebody every couple of years and we made the decision not to hire multiple people at the same level. We basically said, Everybody that we hire in this firm can be successful long term here, and your job is to make other people around you successful. That’s the best way of ensuring your own success.’ And so there was this shared sense of success and failure that I think that we institutionalize in the firm.

At a lot of firms, it’s a little bit more of an eat-what-you- kill kind of mentality. I think in the venture business that’s a little bit misplaced, because there’s so much luck involved in the business. You never know which partner is going to have that big home run. It can take 10 years to actually figure out what were the big wins [in a fund] so you’re going to judge somebody based on the deals they’ve done in the first two years or three years of the business? So we tend to focus a lot more on the inputs than the outputs because the outputs are very variable and have a lot of uncertainty associated with them, but the inputs you can control and, I mean, this is a long term game. It’s a marathon.

TC: What fun thing are going to pick up now that you’ll maybe have more time? 

JG: I’m trying to squeeze as much time as I can with my kids, who are juniors and senior in high school right now. They’ll be off to college soon and spending time with them is a priority, for sure. Health and wellness is also important and  something that tends to take a backseat given how busy we all are, so that’s going to become more of a priority. But also just building and spending time with great friends and hopefully having more opportunities to create some great memories. I have no doubt my plate will be full.

#box, #diversity, #emergence-capital, #jason-green, #limited-partner, #philanthropy, #saas, #succession, #tc, #veeva, #venture-capital, #zoom


What the Gates Divorce Means for the Gates Foundation

The end of one marriage has implications for the 1,600 staff members who direct $5 billion in annual grants to 135 countries.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #divorce-separations-and-annulments, #gates-bill, #gates-bill-and-melinda-foundation, #gates-melinda, #microsoft-corp, #philanthropy


Bill and Melinda Gates’ Divorce Has a Lot at Stake

The split of Bill and Melinda Gates raises questions about the fate of their vast fortune.

#apollo-global-management, #berkshire-hathaway-inc, #divorce-separations-and-annulments, #gates-bill, #gates-bill-and-melinda-foundation, #gates-melinda, #mergers-acquisitions-and-divestitures, #philanthropy, #private-equity


Mr. Beast, YouTube Star, Wants to Take Over the Business World

Jimmy Donaldson, 22, is out to become the Elon Musk of online creators.

#advertising-and-marketing, #computers-and-the-internet, #content-type-personal-profile, #entrepreneurship, #generation-z, #greenville-nc, #jimmy-donaldson, #mobile-applications, #mr-beast, #mrbeast-burger-mobile-app, #musk-elon, #philanthropy, #social-media, #video-recordings-downloads-and-streaming, #workplace-hazards-and-violations, #youtube-com


Bill and Melinda Gates Are Divorcing

The couple’s separation is likely to send shock waves through the worlds of philanthropy, public health and business.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #gates-bill, #gates-bill-and-melinda-foundation, #gates-melinda, #philanthropy, #quarantine-life-and-culture


Asian-American Business Leaders Fund Anti-Discrimination Effort

A new foundation is launching with $250 million in backing from influential executives and major companies.

#asian-americans, #discrimination, #philanthropy, #race-and-ethnicity


Swiss Billionaire Quietly Becomes Influential Force Among Democrats

Hansjörg Wyss, who recently dropped his bid to buy Tribune Publishing, has been a leading source of difficult-to-trace money to groups associated with Democrats.

#biden-joseph-r-jr, #campaign-finance, #center-for-american-progress, #democratic-party, #hub-project-the, #lincoln-project, #philanthropy, #presidential-election-of-2020, #priorities-usa, #priorities-usa-action, #tribune-publishing-company, #trump-donald-j, #unite-the-country, #united-states-politics-and-government, #wyss-hansjorg


Eli Broad, Who Helped Reshape Los Angeles, Dies at 87

The businessman, who made a fortune in home-building and insurance, spent lavishly to try to make the city a cultural capital.

#art, #broad-eli, #deaths-obituaries, #finances, #los-angeles-calif, #museums, #philanthropy


Arianna Huffington Binge-Watches TV on the Treadmill

And how Barbara Tober and Peter Pennoyer have fared during the pandemic.

#huffington-arianna, #parties-social, #pennoyer-peter, #philanthropy


Star of ‘Disaster Girl’ Meme Sells Image as an NFT for $500,000

Zoë Roth, now a college senior in North Carolina, plans to use the proceeds from this month’s NFT auction to pay off student loans and donate to charity.

#auctions, #computers-and-the-internet, #content-type-personal-profile, #disaster-girl, #ethereum, #nonfungible-tokens-nfts, #philanthropy, #roth-zoe-2000, #virtual-currency


India’s entrepreneurs and investors are mobilizing to help the nation fight COVID-19 — and you can too

At a time when much of the world has asserted great control over containing the spread of the coronavirus, with countries increasingly vaccinating its citizens, a different story is playing out in India, the world’s second-most populous nation.

For a week straight, India has reported more than 300,000 daily new infections, about half of all the cases across the globe, despite cutting down on testing in some states and underreporting deaths.

Hospitals have ran out of beds for new patients, and doctors are consistently pleading on social media, often tagging Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for essential medical supplies such as oxygen.

With several major industries, including film and sports, going about their lives pretending there is no crisis, entrepreneurs and startups have emerged as a rare beam of hope in recent days, springing to action to help the nation navigate its darkest hours.

It’s a refreshing change from last year, when thousands of Indian startups themselves were struggling to survive. And while some startups are still severely disrupted, offering a helping hand to the nation has become the priority for most.

Hundreds of startup entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, if not more, are spending much of their time trying to build software to find ways to make it easier for people to track new updates and make donations to foundations, and are exploring and funding ideas that have the potential to address some of the challenges surrounding the crisis.

Two organizations rising to the occasion include:

ACT Grants, which is run by nearly all active venture funds and PE firms, in addition to dozens of other volunteers. The initiative is the collective group’s continuing effort from last year.

Zomato Feeding India: India’s largest food delivery startup is helping patients and hospitals with oxygen and other crucial supplies.

Additional resources and efforts:

#asia, #coronavirus, #covid-19, #health, #india, #philanthropy


India’s Covid Crisis: How to Help Victims and Frontline Workers

Donors around the world are giving money for meals, medical expenses, P.P.E. and oxygen tanks, among other essential supplies. Here’s how you can help.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #india, #nonprofit-organizations, #philanthropy, #united-nations, #united-nations-childrens-fund, #world-health-organization


With a third of its capital deployed, Risk & Return is transforming how we think about emergency response

Disasters are, unfortunately, a growth business, and the frontlines that were once distant have moved much closer to home. Wildfires, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes — let alone a pandemic — has forced much of the United States and increasingly large swaths of the world to confront a new reality: few places are existentially secure.

How we respond to crises can radically adjust the ledger of mortality for the people slammed by these catastrophes. Good information, fast response, and strong execution can mean the difference between life and death. Yet, frontline workers often can’t get the tools and training they need, particularly new innovations that may not wind their way easily through the government supply chain. Perhaps most importantly, they often need post-traumatic care far after a disaster his dissipated.

Risk & Return is a unique venture fund and philanthropic hybrid that has set its mission to seek and finance the next-generation of technologies to help first responders not only on the frontlines, but even after as they confront the strains both physical and mental from missions they undertake.

The family of organizations sees a spectrum from emergency workers in the United States to U.S. military veterans, all of whom share similar challenges and need solutions today — solutions that can often be hard to finance for traditional VCs who aren’t aware of the unique needs of this community.

The group was founded by Robert Nelsen, who made his name as a co-founder and managing director of biotech VC leader ARCH Venture Partners, which last year announced a $1.5 billion pair of funds. He’s joined by board chairman Bob Kerrey, the former co-chair of the 9/11 Commission as well as former governor and senator of Nebraska, and managing director Jeff Eggers, a Navy SEAL who served as senior director of Afghanistan and Pakistan on President Barack Obama’s National Security Council.

Nelsen had been thinking through the idea when he met Kerrey, who recalled the conversation happening during a fundraising event for Navy SEALs. “There has been a lot of suffering for those who have been on the frontlines,” Kerrey said. “Bob had this idea, and I thought it was a really smart idea, to try to take a different approach to philanthropic efforts.” They linked up with Eggers and the trio brought Risk & Return to fruition.

The venture fund is $25 million, with about 35% of it already deployed. The fund has had a big emphasis on mental health for first responders, with 75% of the companies funded broadly in that category.

The fund’s first investment was into Alto Neuroscience, which is developing precision medicine tools to treat post-traumatic stress. The fund has also invested in behavioral management startup NeuroFlow; alternative well-being assessment tool Qntfy; Spear Human Performance, which is a brand-new spinout focused on connecting commercial and health data sources to optimize human performance; and Xtremity, which is designing better connection sockets for prosthetics. The fund has invested in another six startups including Perimeter, which I profiled a few weeks ago.

This isn’t your typical venture portfolio, and that’s exactly what Risk & Return wants to focus on. Eggers said that “We love that type of technology since it has that dual purpose: going to serve the first responder on the ground, but the community is also going to benefit.”

While many of the startups the firm has invested in obviously have a focus on first responders, the technologies they develop don’t have to be limited to just that market. Kerrey noted that “Every veteran is a civilian, [and] these aren’t businesses targeting the military market.” Given the last year, “it’s hard to find a human being in this pandemic that hasn’t suffered at least some PTSD,” referencing post-traumatic stress disorder. Sales to governments can be incredibly challenging, and the ultimate market for the kinds of specialized mental health services that frontline workers need may not be as commercially viable as one would hope.

While the government does research and innovation in this category, Kerrey sees a huge opportunity for the private sector to get more involved. “One thing that you could do in the private sector that is difficult in the public sector is look for alternative therapies for PTSD,” he said, noting that areas like psychedelics have intrigued the private sector even while the government would mostly not touch the category today. Risk & Return has not made an investment in that space at this time though.

Half of the returns from the fund will stream into Risk & Return’s philanthropic arm, which writes grants to charities along the same thesis of aiding frontline workers both on the job and after it. The organizations hope that by approaching the complicated response space with a multi-pronged approach, they can match potential needs with different sources of capital that are most appropriate.

We’ve increasingly seen this hybrid for-profit/non-profit venture model in other areas. Norrsken is a Swedish foundation and venture fund that is investing in areas like mental health, climate change, and other categories from the UN Sustainable Development Goals. MIT Solve is another program that is working on hybrid approaches to startup innovation, such as in pandemics and health security. While disasters are always looming, it’s great to see more innovation in financing this critical category of technology.

such as in pandemics and health security

#emergency-response, #government, #health, #philanthropy, #venture-capital


MacKenzie Scott Gave Away Billions. The Scam Artists Followed.

She has no large foundation, headquarters or public website. That makes it easier to dispense money on her own terms — and for others to prey on the vulnerable in her name.

#frauds-and-swindling, #impostors-criminal, #philanthropy, #scott-mackenzie, #social-media


Maine Officials Say Artist’s Estate Overpaid Lawyers by $3.7 Million

The attorney general demanded in a court filing that the executor for Robert Indiana’s estate repay almost half its legal expenses so far.

#art, #attorneys-general, #indiana-robert, #museums, #philanthropy, #suits-and-litigation-civil, #wills-and-estates


Where ‘The Nikki Haskell Show’ Never Ends

And how Daniel Arsham and Rachel Comey are re-emerging from the pandemic.

#arsham-daniel, #comey-rachel, #haskell-nikki, #philanthropy, #quarantine-life-and-culture


A Family Opens Up About Its Investing Mistakes

The family behind the Nathan Cummings Foundation agreed four years ago to invest more of the endowment in social justice causes. In a new report, it discusses how difficult that was.

#content-type-service, #corporate-social-responsibility, #cummings-nathan-foundation, #philanthropy


The Toronto Carpenter Who Built Tiny Homes for the Homeless

Khaleel Seivwright built himself a wooden shanty while living on a West Coast commune. Then he started building similar lodgings for homeless people in Toronto to survive the winter.

#carpentry-and-carpenters, #content-type-personal-profile, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #homeless-persons, #philanthropy, #public-and-subsidized-housing, #seivwright-khaleel, #toronto-ontario


Top Bidder for Tribune Newspapers Is an Influential Liberal Donor

The Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss helped build a sophisticated behind-the-scenes operation that attacked Republicans and promoted Democratic causes.

#acronym-nonprofit, #alden-global-capital, #bainum-stewart-jr, #campaign-finance, #high-net-worth-individuals, #news-and-news-media, #newspapers, #nonprofit-organizations, #philanthropy, #tribune-publishing-company, #united-states-politics-and-government, #wyss-hansjorg


Why Buy a Yacht When You Can Buy a Newspaper?

Billionaires aren’t usually cast as saviors of democracy. But one way they are winning plaudits for civic-minded endeavors is by funding the Fourth Estate.

#alden-global-capital, #bainum-stewart-jr, #boston-globe, #high-net-worth-individuals, #los-angeles-times, #minneapolis-star-tribune, #news-and-news-media, #newspapers, #nonprofit-organizations, #philanthropy, #salt-lake-tribune, #soon-shiong-patrick, #tribune-publishing-company, #washington-post, #wyss-hansjorg


Chinese hardware makers turn to crowdfunding as they look to go global

China’s tech giants have had a rough time in Western markets over the last few years. Huawei and DJI have been hit by trade restrictions, while TikTok and WeChat are threatened with their apps being banned in the U.S. Overall, Chinese companies with an overseas footprint are increasingly wary of rising geopolitical tensions.

But at an event hosted by California-based crowdfunding platform Indiegogo for Chinese consumer product makers in Shenzhen, businesses from sizes ranging from a startup making portable power stations to 53-year-old home appliances behemoth Midea, listened attentively as Indiegogo’s China managers shed light on how to court Western consumers.

“The first stage is to let ourselves be heard by the world. We have done that,” Li Yongqin, general manager of Indiegogo China, exhorted a room of entrepreneurs. “Next, we will bravely ride the tide and accept the challenge of coming the brands loved by users around the world.”

For Midea, “crowdfunding gives us a very direct way to understand consumers,” said Chen Zhenrui, who oversees the group’s overseas e-commerce initiative. Platforms like Indiegogo and Kickstarter are ways for individuals and organizations to raise capital from a large number of people to fund a project. In most cases, backers get perks or rewards from the project they fund.

Midea raised $1.5 million last year for a new air conditioner unit launched on Indiegogo, an almost negligible amount compared to the 280 billion yuan ($42 billion) annual revenue it generated in 2019. But the support from its 3,600 backers on Indiegogo was more a proof of concept.

Within a few weeks, Midea learned that a compact air conditioner that saddles snugly on the window sill, blocks out noise and saves energy could entice many American consumers. Like other established Chinese home appliances makers, Midea had been exporting for several decades.

But “in the past, much of our overseas business was in the traditional, B2B export realm. I think we are still far from being a world-class brand,” said Chen.

When Midea first launched on Indiegogo, a user left comments on its campaign page calling the project a scam: How could a Fortune Global 500 company be on Indiegogo?

“Through rounds of communication, we got to know each other. That user gave us a big push,” Chen recalled, adding that Midea used a dozen of suggestions from Indiegogo backers to improve its product.

Li Yongqin, general manager of Indiegogo China, exhorted a room of entrepreneurs to develop brands loved by global users. Photo: TechCrunch

More and more traditional manufacturers from China are giving crowdfunding a shot. Padmate, based in the southern coastal city of Xiamen, built a new earbud brand called Pamu from its foundation as a white-label maker of sound systems.

Edison Shen, a director at Padmate, said that traditional export was getting harder as old-school distributors became squeezed by new retail channels like e-commerce. By creating their own brands and reaching consumers directly, factories could also improve profit margins. Padmate went on Indiegogo in 2018 and raised over $6.6 million in one of its wireless headphone campaigns.

Most of the projects on Indiegogo will go beyond the 9-million-backer crowdfunding site onto mainstream platforms, listing on Amazon as well as advertising on Google and Facebook. Though the core services of these American Big Tech firms aren’t available in China, they have all set up some form of operational presence in China, whether it’s stationing staff in the country like Amazon or working through local ad resellers like Facebook.

Indiegogo itself opened its China office in Shenzhen five years ago and has since seen China-based projects raise over $300 million through its platform, according to Lu Li, general manager for Indiegogo’s global strategy. China is now the company’s fastest-growing market and accounted for over 40% of the campaigns that raised over $1 million in 2020.

Kickstarter, a rival to Indiegogo, also saw a surge in projects from China, which reached a record $60.5 million in funding in 2020. The Brooklyn-based company recently began looking for a contractor in Shenzhen or the adjacent city Hong Kong to help it research the Chinese market.

“In recent years, more Chinese companies are getting the hang of crowdfunding and taking their brand global, so ‘blockbuster’ campaigns [from China] are also on the rise,” observed Li.

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