Fred and Joanne Wilson

NET WORTH: Unknown

SOURCE OF WEALTH: Flatiron Partners, Union Square Investments

FUNDING AREAS: NYC Community, Education, (Women's) Entpreneurship

OVERVIEW: Fred Wilson and his wife Joanne are strong proponents of education, particularly when it comes to giving kids access to computers and teaching them basic programming skills. Wilson's also active in redeveloping areas of NYC, and an outspoken proponent of net neutrality.

BACKGROUND: Fred Wilson studied mechanical engineering at MIT and received an MBA from University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. Wilson is a tech venture capitalist who has provided funding for internet companies such as Twitter, Zynga, Etsy, Disqus, Feedburner, Kickstarter, and many others. He currently is a managing partner at Union Square Ventures and also founded Flatiron Partners. 

ISSUES:

NYC COMMUNITY: Wilson is a community activist, and has been involved with redevelopment efforts for Union Square--through the Union Square Ventures he founded with Brad Burnham in 2004--Madison Square, and Pier 40. Through the Pier 40 partnership, he helped secure $10 million in initial funding to build a plan to repair and improve the pier, enhancing and expanding its uses to meet the needs of the Hudson River Park Trust and the city and the wishes of the community.

EDUCATION: For Wilson’s fiftieth birthday, he launched a fundraising campaign to raise money to fund education projects through DonorsChoose.org. He set a goal of $50,000, and ended up raising $54,028. He’s also the Chairman of NYC Foundation for Computer Science Education, and has helped to raise $5 million in seed funding to get the organization off the ground. Through this fund, they have invested in organizations like Code.org and the Academy for Software Engineering. He also donated $10,000 to the P.S/M.S. 282 Chess Team.

ENTREPRENEURSHIP: Joanne is outspoken about empowering entrepreneurs, particularly women, and has done so both through non-profit work and in the business world. As she puts it, "I made really a conscious decision to make sure that I was supporting women more than anything else.” Joanne has served as chairperson at Hot Bread Kitchen, a non-profit committed to increasing access to the culinary industry for woman and minority entrepreneurs. She's also co-chair of Path Forward, a "nonprofit organization on a mission to empower people to restart their careers after time spent focused on caregiving."

NET NEUTRALITY: In 1996, Wilson and Jerry Colona founded Flatiron Partners, focused on investments in notable dot-com bubble successes and failures. Though there’s no indication that he’s been an active donor or fundraiser for groups that seek to protect net neutrality, internet privacy, or freedom of speech, Wilson is a big supporter of that issue and said that the end of net neutrality could prevent venture capitalists like himself from funding new startups. 

LOOKING FORWARD: Expect Wilson and Joanne to continue to dig into their select issues. They also keep active blogs, which could reveal new interest areas as they emerge. Perhaps the couple will give through a more formal charitable vehicle down the line.

CONTACT:

Twitter: @fredwilson

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