Laurene Powell Jobs is trying to save journalism through funding

Laurene Powell Jobs is investing hundreds of millions in media companies.


February 3, 2021

Laurene Powell Jobs — Steve Jobs’ widow — claims she named her charitable organization the Emerson Collective after Ralph Waldo Emerson, in honor of his essay “Self-Reliance.”

It just so happens Emerson Street was also the location of her first date with Steve. Coincidence? We think not.

Anyway, Emerson is equipped with $1.8B+ in assets and has recently been working to instill self-reliance in American journalism.

“Journalism is a cornerstone of our democracy…

… and we see that it’s dying,” Emerson’s director of media told the Columbia Journalism Review. “We want to try and help save it.”

Today, Emerson looks like a charitable VC firm. While its ~$250m investments in journalism include $37m to nonprofits, it also includes $110m for a 70% stake in The Atlantic.

Aside from The Atlantic — whose paywall brought in ~400k subscribers in 2020 — Emerson is also invested in for-profit media firms Axios, The Athletic, Anonymous Content, and Pushkin Industries.

Emerson is run like a business

The organization’s structure as an LLC — though mainly for privacy purposes — is symbolic of the fact that Powell Jobs expects investments will turn a profit.

In May, The Atlantic laid off 68 employees as revenue sunk. Then in August, Emerson cut ties with Pop Up Magazine, whose pre-COVID projections had it losing $3m in 2020.

Still, this could likely only be the beginning of Emerson’s foray into media. Last year, Powell Jobs told the New York Times her fortune “ends with me.”

**Pulls out calculator**… There’s a solid $22B+ to go.

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