The Brief | June 25, 2018

Global-citizen revival, lab-grown bluefin, financial planning for all, Laurene Powell Jobs’ impact strategy

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Greetings, ImpactAlpha readers!

Featured: ImpactAlpha Original

Agents of Impact speak out: “Why I am a globalist.” The scenes at the U.S.-Mexican border, the waves of migration into Europe, the prospect of a trade war and the accelerating climate disruption make clear there is no ducking global issues. The choices we have are in how we respond. Open, connected and abundant? Or closed, divided and driven by scarcity and fear? Even as “globalist” became a political smear, a corps of activists, entrepreneurs, investors has been forging cross-border solutions on trade, migration and the flows of capital. These Agents of Impact represent not an apology for exploitive globalization, but an alternative.

As C.S. Lewis once said, “What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are.” ImpactAlpha asked a few of our contributors whether they consider themselves “globalists” and why. We’ve gathered thoughtful responses from Kuli Kuli’s Lisa Curtis, ANDE’s Randall Kempner, Village Capital’s Ross Baird, Sphaera’s Astrid Scholz, Nonprofit Finance Fund’s Antony Bugg-Levine and Heron Foundation’s Clara Miller. Please share your thoughts on our subscriber Slack channel or by dropping a line to [email protected].

Read, “Agents of Impact speak out: ‘Why I am a globalist,’” on ImpactAlpha. 

P.S. Jump on Agents of Impact Call No. 2 this Thursday. We’ll take Private Equity Watch live and dig into the impact of TPG, Bain Capital, KKR and other big dogs of private equity. Bonus: The latest in the Abraaj saga. Please join The Call, No. 2, June 28th at 10 am PT / 1 pm ET am PT / 5 pm GMTRSVP here.

Dealflow: Follow the Money

Grove raises $8 million to democratize financial planning. Not so fast, robo-advisors. Grove offers customers personalized advice about buying a house, saving for retirement and other financial decisions, for a flat fee of $600 per year. Like the money management app Albert, San Francisco-based grove opted to use people, not bots. Defy Ventures, Tusk Ventures, Bullish and Winklevoss Capital joined the round. Dig in.

Finless Foods secures $3.5 million for lab-grown fish. Lab-grown meat has yet to reach the market, but startups are expanding the range of animal-free meat products in development. Draper Associates led 10 other investors to back San Francisco’s Finless Foods’ R&D into, yes, finless bluefin tuna. Finless Foods says it will bring “clean fish” to restaurants next year. The details.

Nigeria’s Piggybank raises $1.1 million to help West Africans save. The two-year-old financial technology company says it has more than 53,000 monthly active users, who can save small amounts daily, weekly or monthly without deposit, withdrawal or monthly fees. That attracted seed fund Leadpath Nigeria, as well as Village Capital and Ventures Platform. More.

Featured Event: SOCAP18 in San Francisco, October 23-26

SOCAP18’s ‘spring fling’ ticket sale ends June 29. The themes for this fall’s conference at Ft. Mason: gender + markets, racial equity, Africa, circular economy, transformative development and blended finance. Get $650 off a full price ticket, this week only. Use code “MP_ImpactAlpha.” Register here.

Signals: Ahead of the Curve

Inside Laurene Powell Jobs’ new engine for social change. Structured more like the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (a limited liability company) than the Ford Foundation, Laurene Powell Jobs’ is upping the ante for fellow billionaire change-agents. Powell Jobs’ Emerson Collective is “equal parts think tank, foundation, venture capital fund, media baron, arts patron and activist hive,” writes the Washington Post’s David Montgomery. Emerson’s portfolio of both grants and investments includes media companies like the Atlantic magazine and upstart digital pub OZY, a guerrilla art project with artist JR and a seed fund for immigrant entrepreneurs. Powell Jobs is also politically active, providing support for Democratic women candidates and a Democratic super PAC. More from ”The Quest of Laurene Powell Jobs”:

  • DealflowImpactAlpha has tracked the Emerson Collective’s investments in Unshackled Ventures, which is funding foreign-born entrepreneurs in the U.S, Ellevation Education, an edtech venture for English learners, and production company Macro (“Mudbound” and “Fences”) to diversity film. Emerson is also helping incubate innovationin immigration advocacy and to bring public finance online with Neighborly.
  • New tools. Alongside the usual tools of polling and policy advocacy, Emerson creates innovation incubators to foster tech solutions to immigration, “and enlists artists and storytellers to appeal to the public on alternative channels.”
  • Impact production. “The collective has also invested in Hollywood production companies such as Macro and Anonymous Content (“Spotlight”). Powell Jobs’s support led to the creation of positions for “executive producer for activism.”

Powell Jobs named the project after Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of her favorite writers. Montgomery calls the Emerson Collective “perhaps the most influential product of Silicon Valley that you’ve never heard of.”

Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

Surgeon and author Atul Gawande will lead the new healthcare company set up by Amazon, JPMorgan, and Berkshire Hathaway… Big Society Capital’s Sir Harvey McGrath is the new chair of the U.K. National Advisory Board on Impact Investing… Michelle Alexander, author of “The New Jim Crow,” joined The New York Times opinion pages. She will be the newspaper’s first full-time female columnist of color… There’s still time to register for tomorrow’s live demo of the Impact Investor Landscape Mapping efforts led by the Next Wave FoundationTuesday, June 26th at 1pm ET.

—  June 25, 2018.