Zuck’s Money Man & Larry Page’s Larry Page – Puck
There’s an aphorism in the rarefied world of family offices that industry insiders will often recite at their sweltering conferences in Napa or Half Moon Bay: If you know a family office, you know a family office. In other words, every very high net worth family is unique, and the contours of the investment and lifestyle shops they build to manage their assets, their profiles, and their vacations reflect these idiosyncrasies. Their remit can include everything from managing family reunions to advising on “intergenerational wealth transfers,” to tax tricks like opportunity zones, to managing serious kidnapping threats and obtaining second passports.
Sure, each of these family office managers is a special snowflake, but the mechanics of managing them, as some sources admit offstage, aren’t all that different. yes, some love to invest and compete with v.c.s as they see it as a way to maximize their profit without paying management fees; other offices recognize that they don’t have the experience in web3 or carbon sequestration or whatever, and hire outside managers. some build quasi-endowments with large in-house staffing to manage all three strands of typical family office work: investments, legal/accounting services, and premium concierge services, while others outsource elements of that work to specialists. who can serve as your c.i.o., c.f.o., box acquirer or dog walker.
but there’s more that unites these single-family stores than divides them. the average family office globally has about $800 million in assets; The decamillionaires are better off staying in Goldman’s private wealth rather than paying millions of dollars in annual salaries. And while the family office industry has been around since the days of John D. Rockefeller, now larger than the $4 trillion hedge fund industry and catching up in sophistication. family offices these days are engaging in shareholder activism campaigns, launching e.g. countless initiatives, even creating entities to manage the external capital of other wealthy families who want to invest together.
And yet, unlike hedge funds, there is virtually no SEC regulation of these entities, and in most cases, virtually zero scrutiny. critics describe these family offices as almost a shadow financial system. that misses the mark in many ways – billionaires are typically more interested in capital preservation than capital accumulation – but yes, they do have some power beyond moving the yachts and planes into position and herding stewards and horses on their estates. And when family offices begin to execute these tactical or strategic initiatives, staffing can grow to hundreds of employees.
given their secrecy by design, family offices are also a totally unexplored facet of how our economy, politics and culture work these days. Over the past few months, I’ve reported on the inner workings of elon musk’s quirky office, excess, and sergey brin’s massive global bayshore management, revealing some of the characters and philosophies that guide their decision making. Tech billionaires can be pretty strapped for cash, but these are just a few of the family offices doing some really interesting work, along with managing Redwood Pacific, a rare sister store that manages assets. >anne and susan wojcicki; the semerson collective of laurene powell jobs, of course, another fascination of mine; ekahi aloha, the Hawaiian-themed shop that manages marc benioff’s time magazine property; lawrence investments, the entity that manages larry ellison’s lavish affairs and huge loans, as well as his more pedestrian concerns, such as the ellison buyout, then the demolition proposal, and now the impending sale of a $150 million property in playa de palmeras.
Today, I wanted to focus on some of the more ambitious single-family stores in Silicon Valley, the kind industry insiders gossip about quietly and off the record, over drinks and dinner. some you’ve heard of, others I bet you haven’t. their power will only grow along with their fortunes.
larry page by larry page
try searching for koop llc on google and trust me you won’t find anything. But industry insiders love to joke about larry page‘s family office and in particular its CEO, wayne osborne, the self-styled singer-songwriter with a divinity degree. from princeton theological seminary which has run koop for a decade. “koop is interesting because of who runs it,” as a family office veteran told me the other day. Osborne is not only talked about because he oversees one of Silicon Valley’s most prominent family offices, with up to $100 billion under advice, but also because he simultaneously runs a not-so-small SAAS business that sells Koop’s software to other family offices.
way2b1, which “helps individuals and families manage their complex lives securely, privately, and efficiently,” is essentially a management system, like asana, for elite families like the pages. And yet you don’t have to ask for long to hear people wonder how Osborne can run a family office alongside his family office software side hustle. then again, everyone in the family office world is a salesman of some sort – there are plenty of scammers here, all hawking their products and software and proprietary web3 platforms at those sweltering conferences, and osborne obviously has a legitimate advantage in the space. in fact, it can be hard to know where the family office ends and the software company begins.
That being said, Osborne is reputable and Pages are heavily involved in Koop, which has a reputation as one of the best-run mom-and-pop stores. Despite its almost non-existent public profile, Koop actually has a lot of employees; recently there was an internal reorganization, I was told, as befits a bona fide company. Morgan Stanley handles most of the money and investment management, while staff focus on internal software, wealth management, and ocean affairs for the pages, including Larry’s personal Caribbean island, Eustatia, near richard branson necker island, and his travels throughout the south pacific. Koop also runs the family’s relatively fledgling ocean charity: Page’s wife, lucy, recently revealed that her family is the wealth behind oceankind, an ocean protection nonprofit that it has long been rumored to be linked to the pages. Osborne himself has a particular philanthropic interest in protecting children from child abuse (he told sources of mine and sits on a non-profit board), but it’s not clear to me how much of an Osborne priority compared to the family that represents.
mark zuckerberg’s repairman
iconiq, the multi-family office run by the controversial, charming, hyper-connected, enviable and ubiquitous divesh makan, is undoubtedly the most talked about wealth management firm in the city and has been for years . “a very spicy reputation”, in the words of someone the other week. TRUE!
A first name type of character when you talk to the right people, divesh rose to fame in Silicon Valley by leveraging his pre-i.p.o. relationship with Mark Zuckerberg to build a giant that collected most of the cash from him and subsequently became the money manager of choice for several elite Silicon Valley leaders of that generation. Divesh has cultivated an almost unnerving charm and proximity to the powers that be like Zuckerberg, though it’s not entirely clear how much of Zuckerberg’s cash is currently run by Iconiq versus Mark and Priscilla‘s personal philanthropic LLC. , the initiative of chan zuckerberg. however, more than 250 heavyweights, from reid hoffman to sheryl sandberg, piled their assets into iconiq’s coffers, contributing to more than $80 billion in aum. the farm system is really impressive: iconiq’s client “relationship managers” are also often hired to help cutting-edge tech entrepreneurs, including jack dorsey, set up their own family offices singles once they’ve gotten their feet wet at the iconiq store.
meanwhile, iconiq has expanded well beyond its roots in wealth management, moving into venture capital, private debt and real estate, prompting constant giggles over conflicts of interest and alleged cracks within the firm about how an elite wealth manager could do what’s best for his clients while selling his own funds. (Then again, the big banks do this all the time.) to strip the defenders of, and there are many, this is all just jealousy: they all hate the Yankees, and they all hate him because it’s not him.
the actual administration of zuckerberg’s personal affairs is handled by a little-known family office that works closely with iconiq, called west street. Almost nothing had been written about West Street until Business Insider produced a series of reports characterizing the Family Office as an H.R. company. nightmare, with too much partying and too much bullying. the stories were particularly critical of brian mosteller, a former aide to obama (joe biden officiated their wedding) who actually ran the store, and that source he alleged turned a blind eye to reports of misconduct. Zuckerberg’s spokesman, ben labolt, characterized these allegations at the time as “a collection of unsubstantiated rumours, exaggerations and half-truths” from disgruntled employees who tried to extort a large payment from the family office . But it’s interesting to see that Mosteller has recovered very well: A few months ago, none of the accusations prevented him from getting a top job in the State Department. No doubt there are plenty of family offices, with their young nannies, drivers, security, and yachting hands, whose H.R. the protocols would not look good under the microscope. what was unusual here was that it was extended to the press.
the eric schmidt expansion
One of the largest family offices in the United States. It is owned by eric and wendy schmidt, with just under 700 people working for them at fast-growing hillspire llc and related entities such as schmidt futures. That massive number doesn’t surprise me: The number of ambitious initiatives, projects, and consultants the Schmidts are involved in is dizzying. there are the trophy estates the couple collects across the country; Wendy’s ocean protection work in Nantucket; the political work that eric does in d.c.; and, of course, the global international speaking circuit that takes eric gallivanting all over the world. Heck, a few years ago a Schmidt family office entity even beat out the big public company banks to buy 20 percent of D.E. shaw, the very private quant fund that dumps cash where jeff bezos cut his teeth. that kind of treatment shows more than others just how sophisticated these beasts have become. With all those assets and activities, it’s no surprise that a few years ago the Schmidts built a two-story, 25,000-square-foot office in downtown Menlo Park for Hillspire and their entire empire.
Directed until 2019 by chuck chai, a former senior official in Obama’s treasury department, Hillspire is now co-directed by maria seferianand gregg goldman >. strong>. But its most interesting and public-facing executive is ken goldman, a longtime CFO. and accessory from silicon valley, most recently on yahoo. Another person to always watch at Hillspire is amy rao, the luminary of the Schmidts’ democratic caucus and political and philanthropic advisor, who is technically a Hillspire employee.
bill gates’ “culture of fear”
calling cascade family office is an insult. It’s effectively a mega asset manager, but then again, the line between large family offices and asset management boutiques is narrowing anyway. namely, cascade manages an estimated $180 billion in combined assets for bill gates and his namesake foundation, with significant holdings in public companies such as the four seasons and in real estate, especially farmland . For decades this was done quietly, maintaining Bill’s pristine reputation as a lovable nerd. Of course, Cascade came under the national spotlight when, in the aftermath of Gates’s divorce, it was exposed that there was a “culture of fear” in the office, as the New York Times put it in its explosive story in May 2021. (cascade denied some, but not all, of the reported misconduct). Wealth Management. Larsen remains, but the firm changed names around the time of the history of times, from Bill and Melinda Gates investments to Cascading Asset Management. And after decades of operating largely in the shadows, Cascade has just unveiled a website that speaks volumes about its workplace culture.
behind the throne of bezos
The twin administrators behind the Bezos throne are Melinda Lewison, a Princeton alumnus who has worked in her family’s office, Bezos Expeditions, since 2005, and Paul Dauber, Bezos’s longtime personal attorney and aide-de-camp. These two oversee Bezos’s entire life, from his record-breaking Los Angeles property purchases to his Washington Post Office estate to the 10,000-year-old clock that Bezos is building on his personal ranch in West Texas. it is there, in the middle of nowhere, where most of the work of the bezos expeditions is done; After all, Bezos Expeditions’ primary task is to funnel his Amazon fortune into money for Blue Origin, the rocket company that Bezos funds several billion dollars a year. Bezos Expeditions also invests quite a bit in startups (many family offices of tech founders are, unsurprisingly, over-invested in tech). Veterans will recall that Bezos was an early angel investor in Google, the company that created many of Silicon Valley’s most exciting family offices in the first place.