For better or worse, the world is often shaped by the outsized influence of the world's wealthiest individuals. Often the leaders of industry – steel, railroads, consumer staples – these families shape how we conduct our day-to-day lives.
However, they often also operate on a more subterranean level through philanthropic endeavors, political activism and funding new, and sometimes moonshot, ventures.
The latter actions can go unnoticed to the observant eye but drastically alter the future and fortunes of our society nonetheless. The following individuals and families are some of the most influential billionaire families in the United States:
Duquesne Family Office
Stanley Druckenmiller is the former chairman and president of Duquesne Capital. Duquesne, established in 1981, had an impressive 30-year run without a single down year. Druckenmiller retired in 2010. He also was the lead portfolio manager of George Soros’s Quantum Fund from 1988 to 2000.
Steve & Laurene Powell Jobs
Emerson Collective is the family office tasked with executing the philanthropic vision shared by Laurene Powell Jobs and her late husband, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. The office is set up as an LLC rather than a traditional philanthropic non-profit or trust, to allow for the ability to invest in private companies, non-profits and contribute to political campaigns. The LLC-philanthropic family office model has been replicated with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative which serves as the investment vehicle for Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg’s philanthropic efforts. Emerson Collective has made 12 early-stage venture capital investments across various industries. Investments include FreshGrade, an education technology company; Politico, the political online news outlet; and Color Genome, an affordable genetic testing alternative.
Cohen Private Ventures
New York, NY
Steven Cohen is one of the most successful hedge fund managers in history. He began his career as an options trader and eventually launched SAC Capital Partners in 1992. In addition to making the majority of his wealth in public markets, Cohen is an avid tech investor.
Mousse Partners Limited is a multi-billion single-family office founded by Charles Heilbronn to manage the wealth of the Wertheimer family, which owns Chanel. Suzi Kwon Cohen became chief investment officer in March 2016, replacing outgoing CIO Jean Hoysradt.
Pritzker Group, Tao Capital Partners, Blue Haven Initiative
The Pritzker family is one of the wealthiest families in the United States and is widely known for entrepreneurship and philanthropy. The family rose in wealth after Jay Pritzker founded Hyatt Hotels Corp. and selling the Marmon Group, a manufacturing conglomerate, to Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. In 2011, the family completed a split of its investment holdings into 11 pieces worth $1.4 billion apiece.
Madrone Capital Partners, Zoma Capital, Walton Enterprises
The Walton Family
The Waltons are the richest family in America from their combined 52% ownership (as of July 2016) of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. The majority of the current family's wealth comes from the inheritance of Bud and Sam Walton, who founded Wal-Mart in 1962.
Rosewood Management Corp., Palette Investment Company
The Hunt Family
H. L. Hunt began the Hunt Oil Company in 1934, which held a near monopoly over the East Texas Oil Field, one of the world’s largest oil deposits in the world. Today, Hunt Oil remains a privately held firm operating worldwide. H. L. Hunt's heirs oversee their family holdings in oil, hotels, real estate and sports teams, among other assets.
Ziff Brothers Investments, Ziff Capital Partners
The Ziff Family
The Ziff family fortune dates back to 1927 when William Ziff Sr. founded magazine publishing business Ziff Davis before selling it for $1.4 billion in 1994. The family’s wealth has since been multiplied tenfold through prudent investments by his sons Daniel, Robert and Dirk Ziff.
Read part one of 16 Of The Most Influential U.S. Family Offices. Read previous Trusted Insight articles here.