Carlyle Global Partners
When asked by Sandy and Bob Nickerson to attend a conference focusing on Family Offices, I jumped at the chance. My multifamily office just above the new Honor Bar restaurant has families interested in the same. The opportunity to sit shoulder to shoulder with these other world-class family offices was an opportunity not to be missed.
Carlyle Global Partners conducts these elegant conferences twice a year, most recently in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and San Francisco. Next year, one is planned for Monaco, but some influential Montecito members paved the way for this event. The three-day conference hosts occasions throughout the Santa Barbara area including local members’ homes, the Music Academy of the West at UCSB hosted by chancellor Dr. Henry Yang, and concluded with an informal barbecue at the Reagan Ranch. Social events at local residences included top-notch entertainment including Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road ensemble, local five-time Grammy winner Michael McDonald, and others.
Social impact investing takes philanthropy beyond just writing the check; it seeks to invest in companies that make the world (or a specific community) a better place through their product and mission. These events promote opportunities with an exclusive group of entrepreneurs and leaders.
I was particularly interested in local company EVmatch, introduced by UCSB alum and co-founder Heather Hochrein. EVmatch seeks to bring the “sharing economy” to the needs of electric car users. Out of town and need to charge your car? Bring up the EVmatch app on your phone and find members of the local community who will open their (garage) doors to you for an hourly charging fee. Think of it as Airbnb for your electric car.
Family offices often look to take their families’ wealth beyond the traditional venture-capital space and instead directly pursue ideas the family finds personally attractive. One recent addition to the group had an immense liquidity event with the sale of the family’s multi-billion-dollar pharmaceutical company. On the heels of this transaction, the family wanted to focus on mind/brain health innovations, especially after a family member’s tragedy. When they went to various foundations and investment funds, everyone said they had the perfect answer for them. But what they were looking for was more of a journey – one that they could brainstorm and share with other families of similar means and inclinations.
What they originally thought would be a six-figure gift turned into membership and a consulting engagement with the Carlyle Global Partners. Through their guidance, the family ultimately took a portfolio approach where 40% was a gift and 60% an investment. According to Alex Charlton, chairman of Carlyle, more and more wealthy families share this recurring theme. Philanthropy is no longer limited to the world of 501(c)(3) charities; wealth benefactors today are moving more toward investments including early-stage venture capital and other for-profit seeking companies of the private sector. One of the attractions of an investment over a gift is that the investment has an opportunity to grow and can turn into a gift that keeps on giving.
While I have participated in numerous different family office conferences, this meeting was a special experience.