Laurene Powell Jobs: Angelic troublemaker

What the sixth richest woman in the world has been doing with her $20 billion.

From Sunday’s Washington Post magazine:

Last year, Powell Jobs unleashed a series of dramatic moves across a three-dimensional chessboard of American culture. In July, Emerson Collective purchased a majority stake in the Atlantic, a 161-year-old pillar of the journalistic establishment. In September, an arm of the collective and Hollywood’s Entertainment Industry Foundation co-opted the four major networks in prime time to simultaneously present an hour of live television, featuring dozens of celebrities inviting the nation to reconceive high school. Over the following weeks, the collective partnered with the French artist JR to create two monumental pieces of guerrilla art on either side of the U.S.-Mexico border that went viral on social media as satirical critiques of the border wall. In October, she bought the second-largest stake — about 20 percent — in the estimated $2.5 billion holding company that owns the NBA’s Wizards, the NHL’s Capitals, Capital One Arena and several other sports ventures.

The pace continued this year. In February, Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant announced he was committing $10 million to help create a Washington-area branch of a program that Powell Jobs had co-founded, which supports students to and through college in nine cities. In March, Emerson Collective helped bring director Alejandro Iñárritu’s shattering virtual-reality installation “Carne y Arena” — an immersive experience that simulates what it’s like for an immigrant to cross the border — to an abandoned church in Northeast Washington.

She had our attention now — but what was she doing?

My take: What indeed? A long (7,000-word) look at how Powell Jobs’ is trying—quietly, anonymously—to change the world.


  1. Richard Wanderman said:

    I’ve been tracking Emerson since XQ Institute became an underwriter of the PBS NewsHour (not sure if they are anymore).

    There was something not quite right about their ads which were well produced and showed high school in the old days as compared with factories and made the point that schools need to change. Not sure what it was but I got the same feeling in reading the above linked article (which was fascinating).

    I wish her and her efforts well as I no doubt agree with her ends, I’m just not sure about the means.

    June 12, 2018
  2. Gregg Thurman said:

    Just like a man (trying to be gender agnostic) she’s a person with $20 Billion (and earning more every year) with nothing to do except spend it attempting to accomplish something good, all the while reducing her tax obligation.

    June 12, 2018
  3. Ken Cheng said:

    PED: a little typo in the header, Powell.

    Obviously, incredibly smart and a hard worker if she was a FI quant analyst at Goldman. I wish her success in spending her fortune wisely to make the World a better place. A future Education Secretary in the making.

    June 12, 2018

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