Andrew Yang (born January 13, 1975) is an American entrepreneur, the founder of Venture for America, and a candidate in the United States 2020 presidential election. He has worked in startups and early-stage growth companies as a founder or executive for nearly two decades, and he was selected in 2015 by the Obama administration as an Ambassador of Global Entrepreneurship.
Yang is the author of Smart People Should Build Things and The War on Normal People, about automation of labor. In Yang's current bid for the 2020 presidential nomination, one of his main campaign goals is to implement a universal basic income (UBI) for every American adult over the age of 18, which he calls "The Freedom Dividend".
Early life and education
Yang was born in Schenectady, New York, to immigrant parents from Taiwan. His parents met while they were both in graduate school at the University of California, Berkeley. His father graduated with a Ph.D. in physics and worked in the research labs of IBM and General Electric, generating over 69 patents in his career. His mother graduated with a Master's Degree in Statistics and later became an artist.
Yang attended Phillips Exeter Academy, a boarding school in New Hampshire. He graduated from Exeter in 1992 and went on to attend Brown University, earning a BA in Economics. After Brown University, Yang attended Columbia Law School in New York City, where he earned a JD.
In 1999, after graduating from Columbia Law School, Yang began his career as a corporate attorney at Davis Polk & Wardwell. He left the firm in 2000 to launch Stargiving.com, a startup that worked to support celebrity-affiliated philanthropy. Stargiving.com raised capital from investors but later folded in 2001. Afterward, Yang joined a healthcare software startup, MMF Systems, Inc., as its Vice President and third hire.
After working in the healthcare industry for four years, Yang left MMF Systems to join friend Zeke Vanderhoek at a small test preparation company, Manhattan Prep. In 2006, Vanderhoek asked Yang to take over as CEO. While he was CEO of Manhattan Prep, the company primarily provided Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) test preparation. The company expanded from five to 69 locations and was eventually acquired by Kaplan, Inc., in December 2009. Yang served as the company's president through 2011.
Venture for America (VFA)
Following the acquisition of Manhattan Prep, Yang began to conceive his new company, Venture for America, a nonprofit he founded in 2011 with the mission "to create economic opportunity in American cities by mobilizing the next generation of entrepreneurs and equipping them with the skills and resources they need to create jobs."
The company's strategy was to recruit the nation's top college graduates into a two-year fellowship program in which they would work for and apprentice at promising startups in developing cities across the United States. Yang's book Smart People Should Build Things argues that the top universities in the country cherry-pick the smartest kids out of small towns and funnel them into the same corporate jobs in the same big cities. Venture for America's goal is to help distribute that talent around the country and incentivize entrepreneurship for economic growth. Generation Startup, a documentary about Venture for America co-directed by Academy Award winner Cynthia Wade and Cheryl Miller Houser, was released in 2016.
In the summer of 2017, Andrew Yang stepped down as CEO of the company.
2020 presidential campaign
On November 6, 2017, Yang filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to run for President of the United States. Yang is the first Asian American man to run for President of the United States as a Democrat and if elected, he would be the first Asian American President of the United States. In a press release on April 19, 2018, Andrew Yang announced that he would be personally giving one resident of New Hampshire $1,000/month in 2019 to show the effectiveness of his policy, the Freedom Dividend. He also announced he will be doing the same thing in Iowa in 2019.
In December 2018, Andrew Yang was included in the first polling by CNN of caucus voters in Iowa. 5% of respondents viewed him favorably, 12% viewed him unfavorably and 83% were not sure who he was. 28% of respondents said they could see supporting him. 0% of respondents named him as their first-choice while 1% as their second-choice candidate for the Democratic nomination.
Yang's platform is based around three policies: UBI, Medicare for All, and Human-Centered Capitalism. 77 policies are listed on the campaign site. Yang's UBI plan consists of a $1,000/month "Freedom Dividend" to all U.S. citizens over the age of 18, and other responses to predictions of mass unemployment from technological automation.
In a New York Times article featuring his 2020 Presidential campaign, he is noted as proposing various new policies such as a department focused on regulating the addictive nature of media, a White House Psychologist, making tax day a national holiday, and, to stem corruption, increasing the salaries of federal regulators but limiting their private work after they leave public service.
White House honors
In 2012, Yang was named as a Champion of Change by the Obama White House. Later, in 2015, he was again acknowledged by the Obama White House as a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE) alongside Daymond John, Brian Chesky, Steve Case, Tory Burch and several more.
Connection to Transhumanism
Yang's UBI plan is popular with technoprogressives. This is evidenced by the Facebook group "Transhumanists for Andrew Yang 2020". Part of Yang's campaign plan includes several things which should appeal to transhumanists - such as increasing funding for medical technologies and regulating advanced AI to prevent existential risks related to superintelligent AGI.
David Wood concluded his review of The War on Normal People with this endorsement: "Anyone considering running for political office would do well to compare their vision with that of Andrew Yang. I wish him the best of success".
- Clifford , Catherine Andrew Yang wants to run for president promising free cash handouts. CNBC, 11 April 2018
- Meet President Obama’s Entrepreneurship Ambassadors
- The Freedom Dividend
- Hughs, Steve. Schenectady native stumps for president in Latham, Times Union. January 6, 2019
- Seligson, Hannah. No Six-Figure Pay, but Making a Difference The New York Times
- Andrew Yang, Venture for America founder, will help showcase Cleveland's startup scene
- Venture for America: The 'Teach for America' for Entrepreneurs
- The Evolution of Education – Kaplan acquires Manhattan GMAT
- Mission & Approach - Venture for America
- A Book in 5 Minutes: Smart People Should Build Things
- GENERATION STARTUP
- STATEMENT OF CANDIDACY
- This presidential hopeful will give away $1,000 a month to demonstrate the benefits of cash handouts CNBC.
- Andrew Yang on Twitter
- CNN/DES MOINES REGISTER/MEDIACOM IOWA POLL (pdf)
- Our Policies - Andrew Yang for President
- Meet the long-shot 2020 presidential candidate who might make UBI a reality Futurism 2018-02-13
- His 2020 Campaign Message: The Robots Are Coming. The New York Times.
- Celebrating a Year of Champions of Change – President Obama Meets with 12 Champions Who Are Making a Difference in Their Communities 2012-04-27
- Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship
- Facebook Group: Transhumanists for Andrew Yang 2020
- Yang Campaign Policies
- Politics for normal people: strongly recommended!