When you think of environmentalists, not too many hedge fund managers come to mind. Tom Steyer, founder of Farallon Capital Management, is ready to change that image. While he joins dozens of billionaires in Warren Buffet’s Giving Pledge, Steyer is one of the few with specific focus on green energy and political action on climate change. His activism includes charitable donations for universities to expand energy studies, supporting independent research on alternative fuels, and supporting bills and political candidates that will help shape a green energy friendly future.
Yale University received a donation from the Steyer family to establish an energy sciences program. Similarly, the couple donated $40 million to Stanford for the Center for Sustainability. Steyer is also the primary funder for One Pacific Coast Bank, a sustainable finance institution that is also a certified B Corporation.
After retiring from finance in 2012, Steyer hit the campaign trail to support Proposition 39 in California. The law, which passed, increased taxes on multistate corporations and directs some of the increased funds towards clean energy projects. Before that, he also worked to stop a law that would have ended restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions in the state. Last fall, Steyer helped get Senator Ed Markey into office during the special election to replace John Kerry in Massachusetts. This fall, Steyer’s political action group will work on promoting the democratic gubernatorial candidate in Virginia.
Tom Steyer says that when it comes to climate change and fossil fuels, it is “a choice about whether to go forward or backwards.” During his 2012 address to the Democratic National Convention, Tom Steyer praised President Obama’s efforts to promote green energy and called it a future that would produce energy independence and thousands of jobs.
After graduating from Yale University in Economics and Politcal Science, Steyer received an MBA from Stanford Univeristy and remained in California. He founded Farallon Capital Management in 1986, after working in finance for six years. The firm now handles for $20 billion in assets. Steyer stepped away from finance in 2012 to focus solely on activism and philanthropy.