Tom Steyer is an American billionaire who made his fortune by being a pioneer in the hedge fund sector. After getting his start on Wall Street in the late 1970s, Steyer launched Farallon Capital – which would change the asset management game by being one of the first hedge funds to raise money from university endowments. (Until then hedge funds catered almost exclusively to high net-worth individuals.) Steyer's fund was started in 1986 with $15 million in seed capital. By the time he sold his stake in 2012, he'd created one of the largest hedge funds in the world. In the years since, he has turned his attention to philanthropy and politics. From 2014-17, Steyer was one of the biggest financiers of the U.S. Democratic Party, spending more than $300 million. Additionally, Steyer is well-known for his advocacy of environmental protection and economic development. Along with his wife, he has signed The Giving Pledge to donate half of their fortune to charity during their lifetime.
Years before Steyer was scoring big on Wall Street, he was finding a different kind of success at Yale University. From a young age, he'd been driven in both academics and athletics, especially soccer. So, despite not being recruited by Yale to play ball, Steyer walked on to the soccer team and was eventually elected team captain. "He had already shown the leadership style that you would hope for..." said former Yale head soccer coach Steve Griggs, who drew parallels between Steyer's success at Yale and success as a businessman and politician. "It doesn’t seem to me that those qualities are that different from what you’re looking for in someone who can pull a group, or country, together.”
In 1979 Steyer graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Yale with a Bachelor of Arts in economics and political science.
Steyer enjoys a special relationship with his alma mater since the first university he convinced to join his hedge fund was Yale – a decision which later proved to be highly lucrative for both parties. Then in 2011, Steyer decided to show some of his appreciation by gifting his university $25 million to establish an Energy Sciences Institute in New Haven to support research into clean energy technology. Furthermore, as a prominent supporter of environmental causes and Yale, it was fitting for Steyer to kick off the first-ever Yale Environmental Sustainability Summit in 2015 by engaging in an hour-long "fireside chat" with Yale President Peter Salovey. Addressing why he decided to leave finance and pursue environmental issues, Steyer said, "I really wanted to [take] a broader view of what was important and to participate in a broader view... This culmination of environmental and economic justice is the big challenge of our generation. And I really didn’t want to miss it.”