The Tricky Business of Criticizing Big Philanthropy

Dissent has published a smart primer by Joanne Barkan on "how to effectively criticize big philanthropy." The piece uses education reform as a way to talk about how unregulated mega-foundations can exert influence on policy outside of the democratic process. Barkan talks us through a few common "challenges" you might hear when, say, you have a little too much wine at a dinner party and decide it's time to be that guy.

Silicon Valley Ladies Are Doing It For Themselves

Do you know what "venture capital" is? I do now, but once I did not, and I met a venture capitalist at a party, and she was like, "What do you do?" and I was like, "I work at a start up" (about which more here) and she was like, "Oh, great! I'm in VC!" and I had to nod and laugh and pretend I knew what she was talking about because I am scared to look stupid, lest someone force me to take the SATs again.*

Kanye West on Success When You Have All The Money in The World

Steve McQueen -- the one who is alive and directed 12 Years a Slave -- interviews Kanye West for Interview Magazine and it is kind of amazing.
So you talk about doing all of these other things, which is great, but there's really no amount of money that could make you more influential than you are now. So my question is: What are you going to do with all of the influence that you have right now?

Managing the Houses of the Super-rich

Davidson's goal was to be hired by a rich person to manage their home and get paid six figures, which is typically what estate managers earn.

Anderson Cooper Has His Own Millions, Thank You

Here is another fact in a long series of facts maybe everyone knows but me: Anderson Cooper is a Vanderbilt?! Of railroad tycoon fame? More specifically, his mom is the 90-year-old heiress Gloria Vanderbilt, who has $200 million dollars that she is NOT giving to her son when she dies.

Anderson Cooper, per the NY Post, is fine with that. In fact, he’s a little smug about it:

“I don’t believe in inheriting money … I think it’s an initiative sucker. I think it’s a curse.

“Who’s inherited a lot of money that has gone on to do things in their own life? From the time I was growing up, if I felt that there was some pot of gold waiting for me, I don’t know that I would’ve been so motivated.

“I’m doing fine on my own, I don’t need any,” he said.

I get where he’s coming — or at least the idea that ‘earning’ money just feels a lot better than getting it because you implanted in a very lucky uterus — but I think the next paragraph provides some critical context:

A Hedge Fund Manager Turned Environmental Activist

This Men's Journal profile of the unlikely pursuit of billionaire Tom Steyer is excellent. Steyer takes the writer, Joe Hagen, for a hike, squeezes Meyer lemons, yells into canyons, drives an old hybrid Honda Accord, and says that anyone who doesn't see that his former employer Goldman Sachs "got deferential access and deferential outcomes," is a "fucking idiot."

Sheryl Sandberg Is a Billionaire

As of Tuesday, there is one more lady billionaire in the world. For the New Yorker, Vauhini Vara talks about why it matters.

What It Feels Like to Have Lots of Money

My feelings of safety and immortality quickly gave way to scarcity. After all, I thought, if I could make 10 million dollars then it must be too easy. In fact, I honestly thought, everyone else had probably already made 11 million dollars. So then I felt poor again. I now needed 100 million dollars to be happy. I drove in a car with a friend of mine and his wife. I said, “everyone has 10 million dollars now.” She quickly said, “not everyone.” — James Altucher

There’s a fascinating thread on Quora asking, “What does it feel like to be financially rich?” The responses are revealing. Take author and investor James Altucher, who explains why a rich person with $10 million would feel poor, and how he had to be reminded that he’s not actually poor. (Live the life you want to live and stop comparing yourself to others or you’ll never be happy.)

Here’s another excerpt of an interesting response by Mona Nomura, who works in the tech industry:

When my parents finally divorced, she left my brother and me with our dad and succeeded career wise. So much so, she retired in her early 40s. After she attained what she thought was success, she was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. She spent the days up until her death regretting almost all the choices she made and beat herself up day after day. One of her last journal entries included reflections on how unappreciative she was with the things in front of her, and finally realizing happiness does not lie within superficial matters a little too late.

More responses can be found in the thread. [Thanks to Katie for the link pointing me to this.]

Photo of James Altucher: Wikimedia Commons

The Weird World of Financial Aid at Boarding Schools

Paul Sullivan at the Times covers the strangely inconsistent and subjective ways fancy private schools dole out financial aid to prospective students. In a world where tuition is so expensive even parents who make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year apply for financial aid -- and get it! -- each school has its own system, and lemme tell you, it ain't no FAFSA.

Tom Perkins Makes a TV Appearance

Tom Perkins talked with Emily Chang on "Bloomberg West" last night, explaining his position that the rich have been threatened by calls by the poor and middle class for a more equal society. He also said the watch he was wearing was worth a "six-pack of Rolexes." You can see more clips at Bloomberg TV.

True Life: I Am Addicted to Money

I know, a sadder story has ne'er been told. Nevertheless, not many former Wall Street traders pen first-person essays about how much they love money and are addicted to it the same way they are addicted to drugs and alcohol, so it is a pretty good read.

Someday My Ultra-High Net Worth Individual Will Come

“Credit Suisse estimates that worldwide there are 98,700 ‘ultra-high net worth individuals,’ or people worth $50 million or more. Almost half of them live in the United States.” 100,000 is a lot of ultra high net worth individuals! And half of them are here! 50,000! I mean that just seems like a lot. It seems like I could run into one of them. Maybe tonight. They could be anywhere. They could be reading this right now. Hi.