September 13, 2018

Keynote Speaker: Andrew Yang

This year, one of ACE NextGen’s esteemed Keynote Speakers is Andrew Yang.

Andrew Yang is an entrepreneur and author running for President as a Democrat in 2020. In 2011 he founded Venture for America, a national entrepreneurship fellowship, and spent the last 6 years helping to create more than 2,500 jobs in cities like Cleveland, Detroit, and Pittsburgh. His work at VFA had him recognized for many awards including multiple from the Obama White House such as being named a 2012 Champion of Change and 2015 Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship. When Andrew realized that new technologies like artificial intelligence and automation threatened to eliminate one-third of all American jobs, he knew the nation needed a leader with a vision for our radically different future. In The War on Normal People (April 2018), he explains the mounting crisis and makes the case for a Universal Basic Income: $1,000 a month for every American adult, no strings attached, one of the central pillars of his policy platform.

In his own words:

“I’m not a career politician—I’m an entrepreneur who understands the economy. It’s clear to me, and to many of the nation’s best job creators, that we need to make an unprecedented change, and we need to make it now. But the establishment isn’t willing to take the necessary bold steps. As president, my first priority will be to implement Universal Basic Income for every American adult between the ages of 18 and 64: $1,000 a month, no strings attached, paid for by a new tax on the companies benefiting most from automation. UBI is just the beginning. A crisis is underway—we have to work together to stop it, or risk losing the heart of our country. The stakes have never been higher.  

I was born in upstate New York in 1975. My parents immigrated from Taiwan in the 1960s and met in grad school. My Dad was a researcher at IBM—he generated 69 patents over his career—and my Mom was the systems administrator at a local university. My brother and I grew up pretty nerdy. We also grew up believing in the American Dream—it’s why my parents came here.

I studied economics and political science at Brown and went to law school at Columbia. After a brief stint as a corporate lawyer, I realized it wasn’t for me. I launched a small company in the early days of the internet that didn’t work out, and then worked for a healthcare startup, where I learned how to build a business from more experienced entrepreneurs. In my thirties, I ran a national education company that grew to become #1 in the country. I also met my wife, Evelyn, and got married. My education company was acquired, and with Evelyn’s support, I decided to take my earnings and committed myself to creating jobs in cities hit hard by the financial crisis. By that time I understood the power of entrepreneurship to generate economic growth, so I founded Venture for America, an organization that helps entrepreneurs create jobs in cities like Baltimore, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland.

VFA resonates with so many people because it’s clear there’s a growing problem in the U.S.: automation is destroying jobs and entire regions are being left behind. For years I believed new business formation was the answer—if we could train a new generation of entrepreneurs and create the right jobs in the right places, we could stop the downward spiral of growing income inequality, poverty, unemployment, and hopelessness. VFA created jobs by the thousands and continues to do amazing work across the country. But along the way, it became clear to me that job creation will not outpace the massive impending job loss due to automation. Those days are simply over.” 

You can read more about Andrew’s platform here.

New York Times

Huffington Post


Business Insider


Origins:ACE NextGen 3rd Annual National Conference is happening in Boston on October 12-13, 2018. Register for the conference here.

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