Laurene Powell Jobs Is Following Her Own, Influential Path

Widow of the iconic Apple founder has been putting a new twist on philanthropy.

Laurene Powell Jobs
Laurene Powell Jobs speaks onstage during The New York Times 2017 DealBook Conference at Jazz at Lincoln Center on November 9, 2017 in New York City. (Michael Cohen/Getty Images for The New York Times)
Getty Images for The New York Times

In 2004, Laurene Powell Jobs moved from West Milford, New Jersey, to Silicon Valley. She was usually found working at a rented office in Palo Alto, California, on a project that she eventually named the Emerson Collective. It came to be the most influential product of Silicon Valley that nobody has ever heard of. Growth was slow at first, and took a back seat to Jobs raising three children and managing the care of her husband, Apple founder Steve Jobs, who was battling the cancer that eventually killed him in 2011 at age 56. After his death, Laurene inherited Steve’s fortune, now worth around $20 billion, which made her the sixth-richest woman on the planet. She kept working on the Emerson Collective, which by 2014, was up to 10 employees. Jobs preferred to stay out of the spotlight but was quietly assembling a sort of, as the Washington Post puts it, the “Justice League of practical progressives.”

But last year, Powell Jobs made some dramatic moves across American culture, such as acquiring a majority stake in The Atlantic, partnering with French artist JR to create art installments on either side of the U.S.-Mexico border, and buying the second-largest stake in the holding company that owns the NBA’s Wizards, the NHL’s Capitals, Capital One Arena and other sports ventures. She has our attention now, so where is this often overlooked and underestimated woman going?

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.