Liberal billionaire Laurene Powell Jobs reportedly has a new mission: making the internet nicer. 

Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and an owner of the Atlantic magazine, is funding a new project through her company Emerson Collective that’s designed to “encourage civil online conversation,” the Information reported

The project is reportedly being led by Atlantic CEO Nicholas Thompson and Emerson Collective CEO Raffi Krikorian. The group has also brought on ex-Wired magazine executive editor Brian Barrett, according to the Information. 

Emerson Collective did not immediately respond to a request for comment and details of the project were fuzzy, but a source familiar with the push told the Information that the group is not looking to launch a social media site. 

Powell Jobs, who is worth an estimated $12.7 billion thanks largely to Apple and Disney shares she inherited from her late husband, has previously invested in news outlets beyond the Atlantic including Axios and scandal-plagued media company OZY

Nicholas Thompson.
The Atlantic editor Nicholas Thompson is reportedly helping lead the new project.
Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile for Web Summit via Getty Images

She also endorsed Democratic presidential candidates Joe Biden in 2020 and Hillary Clinton in 2016. She has a “tight relationship” with Vice President Kamala Harris, Bloomberg reported in 2020 — and donated to Biden, Harris, Pete Buttigieg, Cory Booker and Michael Bennett during the most recent Democratic presidential primary.

Last week, Powell Jobs said at a conference that her late husband would have been unhappy about the current level of political polarization in the United States. 

“I would say not only [would he not have been happy about] the polarization, not only the fact that people are really coming to blows within families and communities and our country, but also just that he loved our country so much,” Powell Jobs said.

“He loved California so much, but he loved our country,” she added. “He loved the personal freedoms and liberties, but also the connectedness and responsibility for each other.”

Laurene Powell Jobs and Steve Jobs.
Laurene Powell Jobs inherited billions of dollars in Apple and Disney stock from her late husband Steve Jobs.
Getty Images

Powell Jobs’ company, Emerson Collective, engages in philanthropy but uses an unconventional for-profit corporate structure.

Powell Jobs was named the “Least Transparent Mega-Giver” by Inside Philanthropy in 2019. 

“We have no clue about how much she gives annually, or where, exactly, the money goes,” the publication wrote. 


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Tyler Cowan