I'm writing this page for transparency and integrity regarding for-profit private investments (as distinguished from donations, grant streams, and microgrants). I began making angel-size investments in order to better align some of my capital with the values and systemic impacts that I'd like to see succeed in the world. While primarily identifying as an "impact investor," I've also made investments that look profitable and "no worse" for the world than other investment alternatives, for the sake of returns, portfolio diversification, and learning.
Impact investors face a challenge in that mix of both selfish and altruistic motives. Profit and impact — which one is being served more by an investor's other (non-monetary) support of a company/organization? Do they conflict? Here's the current personal policy guiding my investment decisions:
- All of my net worth/wealth beyond culturally-normal family safety and comfort is aimed at being in service to the world.
- I will not invest in anything I see as net harmful to the world for the sake of personal benefit. (The "earn to give" potential could factor into that net harm calculation, but doesn't carry much weight for me.)
- I publicly list all my custom investments here. I won't hide where I stand to benefit (control more resources) from the success of an investment.
- "Demonstrably pure motives" is still a thing of value that can strengthen my efforts to support a company, and sometimes it will be worth not investing in order to keep it.
- Investing is a means of supporting a company, and wanting to also support that company in other ways is not usually incompatible with it.
- If I have invested in a company and circumstances then produce a conflict-of-interest scenario that transparency cannot solve, I may dedicate/allocate any future profits from that investment to some stricter form of altruistic usage.
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