Tom Steyer’s next big push: ‘Too Small to Fail’

Yesterday’s editions carried my story about what the future might hold for billionaire hedge fund mogul Tom Steyer, fresh off his win with Proposition 39 and about to turn his full attention to public policy.

Today we’re starting to see what Steyer’s next big push will be.

Tom Steyer (photo by Karl Mondon)As described in a Mercury-News op-ed piece he co-wrote, the Center for the Next Generation – a philanthropic effort founded last year by Steyer and his brother, Common Sense Media Founder and CEO Jim Steyer – today is launching Too Small to Fail, a national movement to focus attention on the need to invest in children and address the challenges they face in leading healthy, happy, productive lives, particularly in areas of education, technology, health, parents’ work lives and social mobility.

Too Small to Fail’s website went live today, and this ad – produced by Obama advisor Jim Margolis and Bush advisor Mark McKinnon – has begun airing on Fox, MSNBC and CNN:


From Too Small to Fail’s website:

The world is changing faster than any parent can predict. We have 21st century technology and a 20th century mindset; the slickest smartphones with the dullest outlook for our kids.

Parents work longer hours for smaller paychecks. Kids are weighed down by schools that don’t work and bombarded by media meant for people twice their age. Governments across the country have done less and less to lay a foundation for future success – a future where we build our society from the smallest up and where all kids have the opportunity to thrive.

Too Small to Fail is a movement. One built to change the conversation around kids in this country. We mean to create a groundswell to prompt Americans to rise to the challenges facing our nation’s children.

We can build a stronger future for our children.

The site indicates partners participating in Too Small to Fail include the Children’s Defense Fund – California, Common Sense Media, the Families and Work Institute, First Focus, Moms Rising, Opportunity Nation and Voices for America’s Children.


Hedge fund mogul co-chairs, antes up for No on 23

The Californians to Stop the Dirty Energy Proposition committee that’s opposing Proposition 23, the measure on November’s ballot to roll back the state’s landmark greenhouse gas emissions law, today introduced a Bay Area hedge-fund mogul and philanthropist as its co-chairman.

Tom Steyer (photo from CNNMoney-Fortune)Tom Steyer, 53, is the founder and managing partner of San Francisco-based Farallon Capital, a $20 billion hedge fund; he’s also a managing director and executive committee member at Hellman & Friedman, a San Francisco-based private equity investment firm.

Steyer and his wife, Kat Taylor, in 2009 gave $40 million to fund the Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford University, where Steyer now serves on the governing board. The couple also founded OneCalifornia Bank, a sustainable community development bank, and the related OneCalifornia Foundation to support programs and grants to eliminate discrimination, encourage affordable housing, alleviate economic distress, stimulate community development and increase financial literacy. And the couple also helped found OneRoof, a social business designed to bring technology to rural India.

Steyer in 2008 ranked as No. 962 on Forbes’ list of the world’s billionaires with a net worth of about $1.2 billion, but dropped off the list in 2009 and 2010.

His inaugural act as the No on 23 campaign’s co-chair is to pony up $5 million for the cause – a massive sum for a committee that reported having $649,221.08 in the bank as of March 31 and has shown $1.45 million in big-ticket contributions since then.

“I’m very honored and happy to be co-chairing this with (former U.S. Secretary of State) George Shultz, who obviously has an incredible background in government and the private sector and academia,” Steyer told reporters on a conference call this morning. “He and I co-chairing this executive committee is a continuation of the bipartisan nature of this effort.”

“I personally come at this issue as a business person who cares about the economic future of California, who cares about the jobs in California as well as the environmental and security issues here,” he said.

Steyer said that as a professional investor for several decades, he knows investors don’t want rules changed in the middle of the game, but rather insist upon seeing a consistent commitment. The capital that has poured into California’s burgeoning green economy in recent years and is projected to increase enormously over the next decade will dry up in a heartbeat if voters roll back the existing law, he said.