Monday, September 18, 2017

Packard Foundation Bets On Brains Over Quant Brawn

The National Philanthropic Trust has the Packard Foundation coming in at 8th biggest on their list of 25 largest foundations in the U.S. at a bit over $7 billion in assets.
The Hewlett Foundation is listed as 6th largest. There might be some money in this tech stuff.

From Institutional Investor Alpha, August 26:

In the heart of Silicon Valley, endowed by a computer fortune, the $7.2 billion Packard Foundation opts out of quant investing.
David Packard, the man who brought computing power to the masses, made an empire and a fortune selling smart machines. He built the first one — an oscillator — with William Hewlett in the late 1930s, in the garage behind his and Lucile Packard’s rented house in Palo Alto. Thus, Hewlett-Packard was born in 1939. Officially, so was Silicon Valley. The Packards’ garage is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the birthplace of the U.S. tech industry. Their foundation also had humble beginnings.

Starting with $100,000 of the Packards’ own money in 1964, the nonprofit was small in scale but radical in mission for the time, supporting reproductive rights, early childhood education, and the environment. David Packard died in 1996, and the foundation inherited roughly $4 billion of HP shares. In 1999 it became a two-stock portfolio when HP spun off its measurement and components businesses to form Agilent Technologies.

The dot-com bust proved why it’s a terrible idea to have a ten-figure portfolio invested in just two companies.

The philanthropy’s trustees decided to cash out of HP and computers, putting their faith in human intellect. In 2007 the David and Lucile Packard Foundation hired its first chief investment officer, John Moehling, and gave him license to diversify. Moehling then hired Kimberly Sargent, who earned an MBA from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business after working for Yale University’s endowment. Together they built a nonprofit portfolio that is admired by peers and reputed to be a strong performer, though Packard, like many foundations, does not disclose investment returns.

Moehling plans to retire at the end of the year, and Sargent will succeed him as CIO.

She belongs to a cadre — some jokingly call it a mafia — of young leaders at elite U.S. nonprofits who learned from the godfather of endowment investing, David Swensen, the CIO at Yale University’s endowment. In addition to professional roots in New Haven, Connecticut, these second-generation Swensenites have largely rejected the biggest institutional trend since the Yale model popularized private assets: quantitative investing....MUCH MORE