Not Stephen Girard or John Jacob Astor old-money by any means. Not even the older but relatively poorer New Amsterdam crowd: van Cortlandt, van Varick, van Rensselaer etc.
These are Tisch, Pritzker, LeFrak et al.
Like many young scions, Mark Ghermezian joined the family business, an empire started by his grandfather that now includes banks, manufacturing companies and the largest mall in America. He spent two years leading an energy group, managing dozens of oil and gas drilling sites across Texas.
But last year, Mr. Ghermezian, 29, traded his plush Houston office and job security for a cramped work space in the meatpacking district of Manhattan and the uncertainty of a fledgling technology venture. Using his connections, he raised $3 million from his family and other investors to start Appboy, a service that helps businesses manage their mobile applications.
“I wanted to build something,” he said. “My family doesn’t quite understand what I do, but they know I’m their tech guy.”
The old money crowd has found the new, new thing.
Fresh from college and graduate schools, the children of some prominent dynasties are taking a different path, spurning their legacies in retailing, real estate and finance for a future in technology.
Justin A. Rockefeller, 32, the fourth-generation descendant of John D. Rockefeller, the oil tycoon, is a partner at the venture capital firm Richmond Global and a director of business development at Addepar, a financial software start-up. The real estate heir Joshua Kushner, 26, helped to found Vostu, a large Brazilian online game company, and recently raised $40 million for his own technology investment firm, Thrive Capital.
While many of them don’t know how to program code, they have a powerful combination in the start-up scene: wealth, wits and a well-connected family.
“They view this as the next great frontier,” said David Hornik, a partner at August Capital. “There’s not much money left to be made in timber or coal.”
It’s a natural fit for a generation weaned on the Internet and e-mail.
David Tisch, the grandson of Laurence A. Tisch, who turned a small hotel into a vast conglomerate, received his first computer in fourth grade. Without his parents’ knowledge, the young Mr. Tisch found ways to illicitly siphon minutes from AOL, when it charged an hourly rate for Internet access. As a teenager, he sold baseball cards on eBay and persuaded his father to let him use his bar mitzvah money to buy shares of the online marketplace....MORE