Tom Steyer

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Tom Steyer
Born Thomas Fahr Steyer
(1957-06-27) June 27, 1957 (age 58)
New York City, New York U.S.
Alma mater Yale University (B.A.)
Stanford University (M.B.A)
Net worth IncreaseUS$1.6 billion
(March 2014)[1]
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Kathryn Ann Taylor
Children 4
Website Official website

Thomas Fahr "Tom" Steyer (born June 27, 1957) is an American hedge fund manager, philanthropist, and environmentalist.[2]

Steyer is the founder and former Co-Senior Managing Partner of Farallon Capital Management, LLC and the co-founder of Beneficial State Bank, an Oakland-based community development bank.[2] Steyer is responsible for funding the creation of the TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy at Stanford University, part of the Precourt Institute of Energy.[3] Since 1986, he has been a partner and member of the Executive Committee at Hellman & Friedman, a San Francisco-based $8 billion private equity firm. Farallon Capital Management, LLC, manages $20 billion in capital for institutions and high-net-worth individuals. The firm’s institutional investors are primarily college endowments and foundations.[2][4]

In 2010, Steyer and his wife signed the Giving Pledge to donate half their fortune to charity.[5] Steyer is on the board of Next Generation, a non-profit that intends to tackle children's issues and the environment.[6][7] He serves on the Board of Trustees at Stanford University[8] and is active in political campaign fundraising.

Early life and education[edit]

Steyer was born in New York City in 1957. His mother, Marnie (née Fahr), was a teacher of remedial reading at the Brooklyn House of Detention, and his father, Roy Henry Steyer, was a partner in the New York law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell.[9][10] His mother was Episcopalian and his father Jewish (a member of the Reform Jewish Congregation Emanu-El of New York).[11]

He attended the Buckley School, Philips Exeter Academy and graduated from Yale University summa cum laude in economics and political science and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He was captain of the Yale soccer team. Steyer received his MBA from Stanford Business School, where he was an Arjay Miller Scholar.[12]


Early career[edit]

Prior to joining Hellman & Friedman, Steyer worked at Goldman Sachs from 1983-85 as an associate in the risk arbitrage department under Robert Rubin. He began his professional career at Morgan Stanley in 1979.[2]

Farallon Capital Management[edit]

Steyer founded Farallon Capital Management, LLC in January 1986.[13] Farallon employs approximately 165 people in eight offices globally and is headquartered in San Francisco, California.[14] Farallon is considered a pioneer in the practice of “absolute return” investing, a strategy that aims to produce a positive absolute return regardless of the directions of financial markets.[2] To that end, Farallon makes credit investments, value investments, merger arbitrage, real estate-related investments and direct investments. It also invests in public and private debt and equity securities, and direct investments in private companies and real estate.[15]

Steyer announced in October 2012 that he would be stepping down from his position at Farallon in order to focus on political activism, in particular on advocating for alternative energy.[16] He cited his desire to focus on giving back "full time" and to revolve his life around service. In an interview he said, "I've tried to organize a business voice for what I call advanced energy....I think I'm going to be focused on how to, is there a way to move the needle in some way having to do with thought or policy. And I don't know what shape that's going to take.”[17]

Investments in coal projects[edit]

Steyer decided to dispose of his carbon-polluting investments in 2012, although critics say he didn't dispose of them fast enough. Steyer sold his ownership stake in Farallon, but still owns an investment, although his aides said he no longer earns profits. Some of the coal mines and coal power plants they invested in will continue to operate for as much as 30 years. For example, Farallon made tens of millions of dollars from developing the Maules Creek coal mine in Australia, which is opposed by environmentalists.[18][19][20]

Kilowatt Financial, LLC[edit]

In 2015, the Washington Free Beacon reported that documents filed with secretaries of state in California and Texas named Steyer as a manager of Kilowatt Financial LLC.[21]


Giving Pledge[edit]

In August 2010, Steyer and his wife, Kat Taylor, joined Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and 37 other American billionaires in pledging to give away at least half their fortunes during their lifetime.[22] Business people “are pretty widely mistrusted and seen as overwhelmingly self-interested,” Steyer said. “The point is that business people are not just laboring for themselves. They have bigger responsibilities and belong to a wider community.”[23]

Community development[edit]

Steyer and his wife founded OneCalifornia Bank, now known as One PacificCoast Bank, a community development bank.[24] The bank functions as a regulated financial institution, insured and for-profit just like other banks, but provides commercial banking services to underserved Bay Area businesses, nonprofits and individuals. Steyer and Taylor put up $22.5 million to start the bank and create the One PacificCoast Foundation to engage in charitable and educational activities, provide lending support, investments and other services for disadvantaged communities and community service organizations in California. Steyer and Taylor maintain mission focus and control of the bank, but take no economic benefit or repayment from their investment as they donated 100% of their economic interest in One PacificCoast Bank to One PacificCoast Foundation.[25][26] In August 2010, the University of San Francisco awarded OneCalifornia Bank and Foundation the 2010 University of San Francisco California Prize for Service and the Common Good.[27]

TomKat Ranch[edit]

The couple created the TomKat Ranch in Pescadero, California. The ranch's philanthropic endeavors include underwriting healthy food programs and co-producing an independent film, La Mission, starring Benjamin Bratt, about San Francisco's Mission neighborhood.[28]


Steyer and Taylor also helped found OneRoof, a social business designed to bring technology to rural India. Over the past four years OneRoof has opened computer centers to connect poor residents of India with the information revolution.[29]


In 2008, Steyer and Taylor gave $41 million to create the TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy at Stanford University. The center focuses on the development of affordable renewable energy technologies and promotion of public policies that make renewable energy more accessible. Projects include the creation of lighter, less toxic, and more durable batteries and an analysis of the current power grid’s ability to support future renewable energy technologies.[3][30]

Political activism[edit]

Steyer is a leading Democratic activist and fundraiser. In 1983, he worked on the Walter Mondale for President campaign.[24] He raised money for Bill Bradley in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004. An early supporter of Hillary Clinton for President, Steyer became one of Barack Obama’s most prolific fundraisers. Steyer served as a delegate to the Democratic National Conventions in 2004 and 2008, and has been a member of the Hamilton Project since 2005.[2] Steyer, one of the backers of Greener Capital, has been accused of reaping benefits from the anti-oil policies of the Obama administration.[31][32] In January 2013, rumors briefly arose that Steyer might be named as a replacement for Energy Secretary Steven Chu.[33] Asked whether he would accept such an appointment, Steyer said yes.[34]

Steyer is seen as an adversary to some of the political activities of the Koch brothers.[35][36]

Steyer is involved with the Democracy Alliance, a network of progressive donors whose membership in the group requires them to donate at least $200,000 a year to recommended organizations.[37][38]

Steyer co-chairs a group called Risky Business that raises awareness of the projected economic impact of climate change.[39]

No on Prop 23[edit]

Steyer donated $2.5 million and pledged to contribute $2.5 million more to the No on Prop. 23 campaign, the measure on the November 2010 ballot concerning California's environmental legislation, AB32. Steyer joined former Secretary of State and Republican George Shultz, to co-chair the No on Prop. 23 campaign.[40][41]

Steyer was reportedly "peeved" that out-of-state activists were backing a California measure, and was convinced that passage would hurt California's environment and economy. Steyer described "stepping up" and donating $5 million - the largest sum donated - and driving to people's homes to campaign. Steyer's political emergence was a success and the proposition was defeated.[42]

DNC speech[edit]

Steyer gave a speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. He commented that the election was “a choice about whether to go backward or forward. And that choice is especially stark when it comes to energy.” Steyer said that Romney would take no action to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels; rather, he said he would increase it. Steyer went on to support Obama's policies, which he described as investments to "make us energy independent and create thousands of jobs.”[43]

Prop 39[edit]

Steyer was the leading sponsor of Proposition 39 on the 2012 ballot in California. Its purpose was to close a loophole that allowed multi-state corporations to pay taxes out of state, mandating that they pay in California. Steyer contributed $21.9 million, saying that he could wait no longer for the change.[44][45]

Kim Alexander, president of the California Voter Foundation, said that the level of giving was unprecedented: "We’ve seen companies giving that much, and unions and PACs that have a lot at stake giving $10, $20 million in an election, but you didn’t see that so much for individual donors.”[44] While supporters of Steyer's effort said it would “help break the partisan gridlock in Sacramento,” critics objected that “the increasing involvement of rich individuals perverts the original intent of the initiatives.[44] The passage of Prop 39 was described as “a $1 billion corporate tax increase that somehow slipped under the radar” and a huge political story that somehow went unnoticed. It was noted that the backers' strategy was to eliminate political opposition before it could materialize. Tom Steyer added $30 million into the Yes on Proposition 39 campaign, warning opponents that “it would be impossible to wage an opposition campaign on the cheap.”[46][47]

2013 Virginia gubernatorial election[edit]

Steyer supported the campaign of Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the 2013 Virginia Gubernatorial race through his NextGen Climate Action political committee. This support consisted primarily of releasing ads meant to portray McAuliffe's rival, Ken Cuccinelli, as extreme on environmental issues, and in Get out the vote efforts.[48]

2014 political influence[edit]

In 2014, Steyer committed to funding political campaigns in at least seven states to influence climate change policy through his PAC, NextGEN Climate.[49] In June, Steyer said he planned to get involved in California legislature to affect climate change policy by targeting three to four races in each house of the Legislature.[50] In the summer, he founded a political action committee in Florida, leading a major investment in the Gubernatorial race. Steyer cited Florida's pivotal role in the 2016 presidential election and its geographic position, which makes it highly vulnerable to climate change, as reasons for his focus on the state. [51]

However, though spending $57 million of his personal fortune, he and his organization were about 40% successful, as of the seven Senate and governors’ candidates NextGEN Climate supported, three won their races.[52]

2016 political influence[edit]

Steyer has raised millions of dollars to confront climate change and has raised money for Hillary Clinton at his home in San Francisco.[53] After the 2016 Republican presidential debate, Steyer stated, "The Republican candidates haven't presented a plan to address climate change — and so those candidates still aren't ready to be president".[54] In the 2016 presidential elections, NextGen Climate has been advocating for candidates to endorse a 50 percent renewable energy goal by 2030 through ad campaigns.[55][54]

Personal life[edit]

In August 1986, he married Kathryn Ann Taylor. She is a graduate of Harvard College and earned a J.D./M.B.A. from Stanford University. The Rev. Richard Thayer, a Presbyterian minister, and Rabbi Charles Familant performed the ceremony.[9] Steyer and his wife have four children.[42] His wife is on the President's Council for the United Religions Initiative whose purpose is to "promote enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence, and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings."[56]

Tom is the brother of attorney, author, and Stanford University professor Jim Steyer. [57]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The World's Billionaires - Thomas Steyer" Forbes. March 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Lashinsky, Adam (September 17, 2008). "California's hedge fund king". Fortune. Retrieved 2010-07-23. 
  3. ^ a b Ritch, Emma. "Stanford launches $100M energy research institute". Cleantech Group. Retrieved 2010-07-23. 
  4. ^[dead link]
  5. ^ "40 billionaires pledge to give away half of wealth". MSNBC. Retrieved 2010-08-05. 
  6. ^ Strom, Stephanie (September 15, 2011). "Hedge Fund Chief Takes Major Role in Philanthropy". The New York Times. 
  7. ^ "Thomas F. Steyer profile". Next Generation. Retrieved 2013-10-30. 
  8. ^ "University Governance". Stanford University. Retrieved 2012-02-12. 
  9. ^ a b New York Times: "Kathryn Taylor Weds T.F. Steyer" August 17, 1986
  10. ^ World Who's who in Commerce and Industry. Marquis-Who's Who. 1968. p. 1327. 
  11. ^ New York Times: "Paid Notice: Deaths STEYER, ROY H."New York Times, June 26, 1997
  12. ^ "The World's Billionaires". Forbes. Retrieved 2010-07-23. 
  13. ^ Farallon Capital Management, L.L.C. "Farallon Capital Management". 
  14. ^ Farallon Capital Management, L.L.C. "Farallon Capital Management". 
  15. ^ Farallon Capital Management, L.L.C. "Strategies". 
  16. ^ Celarier, Michelle (23 October 2012). "Hedgie Steyer hanging it up". NY Post. 
  17. ^ Henderson, Peter. "INTERVIEW-Billionaire Steyer sees clean energy in his future". Reuters. 
  18. ^ Aims of Donor Are Shadowed by Past in Coal by MICHAEL BARBARO and CORAL DAVENPORT, The New York Times, JULY 4, 2014
  19. ^ Tom Steyer’s slow, and ongoing, conversion from fossil-fuels investor to climate activist, by Carol D. Leonnig, Tom Hamburger and Rosalind S. Helderman, Washington Post, June 9, 2014
  20. ^ From black to green: U.S. billionaire's 'Road to Damascus' by Richard Valdmanis, Fergus Jensen and Sonali Paul, Reuters, May 13, 2014
  21. ^ "Tom Steyer Listed as Manager of Green Energy Investment Firm". Washington Free Beacon. Retrieved 10 July 2015. 
  22. ^[dead link]
  23. ^ "Buffett, Gates persuade 38 billionaires to donate half of wealth". The Joplin Globe. AP. 2010-08-04. Retrieved 2013-10-30. 
  24. ^ a b[dead link]
  25. ^ Sharma-Sindhar, Priyanka. "Oakland Fund Gets the Governor's Attention". The Oakbook. Retrieved 2010-07-23. 
  26. ^ Stuhldreher, Anne (2009-04-08). "Traditional lending goes mainstream". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2010-07-23. 
  27. ^ "University of San Francisco Announces 2010 Recipient of Statewide Prize". PR Newswire. Retrieved 2013-10-30. 
  28. ^ Trevenon, Stacy. "Film brings 'brown pride' to Pescadero". Half Moon Bay Review. Retrieved 2010-09-10. 
  29. ^[dead link]
  30. ^ "Stanford starts new, $100 million energy institute". Greenbang. Retrieved 2010-07-23. 
  31. ^ "The One Percent Gets Its Turn". Washington Free Beacon. 
  32. ^ "OP-ED: Billionaire bullies - - San Mateo Daily Journal". 
  33. ^ Sink, Justin (8 January 2013). "Obama looks to fill out Cabinet". The Hill. 
  34. ^ Calvey, Mark (16 January 2013). "San Francisco's Tom Steyer reacts to rumors he'll be named U.S. Energy Secretary". Biz Journal. 
  35. ^
  36. ^ POLITICO. "Obama targets GHG cuts with eye on politics, Paris – Saudis tell oil market prices could be low for a while – Ernst, Braley tussle over EPA – Hagel: Emerging Arctic resources present ‘potential threat". POLITICO. 
  37. ^ Gold, Matea (April 12, 2015). "Wealthy donors on left launch new plan to wrest back control in the states". Washington Post. Retrieved 20 April 2015. 
  38. ^ Vogel, Kenneth; Restuccia, Andre (April 13, 2015). "Tom Steyer stars as liberal donors gather". Politico. Retrieved 20 April 2015. 
  39. ^ Helm, Burt (January 31, 2015). "Climate change's bottom line". The New York Times. Retrieved July 12, 2015. 
  40. ^ Maviglio, Steven. "No on Prop 23 Campaign Gets Big Backing from Major Democratic Donor, Releases Report on Valero's $9 Billion Export of California Energy Dollars". The California Majority Report. Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  41. ^ Nagourney, Adam. "California Braces for Showdown on Emissions". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  42. ^ a b Dolan, Kerry (21 September 2011). "Tom Steyer: Hedge Fund Billionaire's Foray Into Politics". Forbes. 
  43. ^ "Tom Steyer DNC speech (text)". Politico. September 5, 2012. 
  44. ^ a b c Onishi, Norimitsu (16 October 2012). "California Ballot Initiatives, Born in Populism, Now Come From Billionaires". The New York Times. 
  45. ^ Henderson, Peter (October 24, 2012). "INTERVIEW-Billionaire Steyer sees clean energy in his future". Reuters. 
  46. ^ "Timm Herdt: And then, the opposition blinked". Contra Costa Times. December 25, 2012. 
  47. ^ STEYER, THOMAS FAHR (TOM) contributions to ballot measure committees that supported or opposed ballot measures in elections in California 2012,,2012,2011,2010,2009,2008,2007,2006,2005,2004,2003,2002,2001,2000&m-exi=1&d-eid=431767&s=CA&y=2012#[{1|gro=f-eid
  48. ^ Meola, Olympia (9 August 2013). "Out-of-state funds pouring into Virginia race for governor". The Richmond Times Dispatch. 
  49. ^ Gold, Matea. "Billionaire Tom Steyer will use clout and cash to boost Democrats, environment, in key races". The Washington Post. Retrieved 4 June 2014. 
  50. ^ Metha, Seema. "Billionaire Steyer looking at spending on legislative races". LA Times. Retrieved 4 June 2014. 
  51. ^ Caputo, Marc. "Billionaire climate-change supporter pledges to spend big to beat Florida Gov. Rick Scott". The Miami Herald. Retrieved 5 August 2014. 
  52. ^ Davenport, Coral, "Meager Returns for the Democrats’ Biggest Donor, New York Times, 6 November 2014
  53. ^ Halper, Evan. "Why Tom Steyer's latest fight against climate change involves raising his own cattle". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 30 October 2015. 
  54. ^ a b SICILIANO, JOHN (28 October 2015). "Steyer: Republicans not ready for White House". Washington Examiner. Retrieved 30 October 2015. 
  55. ^ Seitz-Wald, Alex (15 October 2015). "Billionaire Tom Steyer’s climate group launches seven-figure ad campaign". MSNBC. Retrieved 30 October 2015. 
  56. ^ United Religions Initiative: Kat Taylor retrieved march 30, 2013
  57. ^ "Comparative Studies of Race and Ethnicity at Stanford". 

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