Meet billionaire investor Laurene Powell Jobs, wife of the late Apple cofounder Steve Jobs who spends much of her $21 billion on charity and says her kids won't inherit the fortune

  • Laurene Powell Jobs more than the widow of Apple cofounder Steve Jobs.
  • She’s also a powerful impact investor and philanthropist with a net worth of $21.7 billion.
  • Powell Jobs hosts elaborate Halloween shows at her Silicon Valley home and owns a $110 million yacht.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Laurene Powell Jobs is much more than just Steve Jobs’ widow. 

The 57-year-old billionaire is a formidable presence in investing circles, with a net worth of $21.7 billion, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index. Powell Jobs has used the multi-billion-dollar fortune she inherited after the Apple cofounder’s death in 2011 to expand her own businesses and philanthropies. 

Here’s a look at the life of the businesswoman and philanthropist.

Laurene Powell Jobs was born in West Milford, New Jersey, in 1963.

Source: Vogue

Her father, a pilot, died in a plane crash when she was 3 years old. Her mother later remarried.

Source: Vogue

Powell Jobs double-majored in political science and economics at the University of Pennsylvania, and later headed west to Stanford University for an MBA.

Source: New York Times, Stanford

After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, she worked on Wall Street for Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs.

Source: New York Times, Stanford

She enrolled in Stanford's Graduate School of Business in 1989.

Source: New York Times, Stanford

That's where she met Steve Jobs, her future husband.

Sources: New York Times, International Business Times

According to Walter Isaacson's biography of Jobs, Powell Jobs got dragged along to a campus event by a friend. It turned out to be a guest lecture by Jobs.

Source: “Steve Jobs”

"I knew that Steve Jobs was the speaker, but the face I thought of was that of Bill Gates," Powell Jobs told Isaacson. "I had them mixed up."

Source: “Steve Jobs”

"This was 1989," Powell Jobs added. "He was working at NeXT, and he was not that big of a deal to me. I wasn't that enthused, but my friend was, so we went."

Source: “Steve Jobs”

The pair arrived late and were told they couldn't just sit in the aisle. Powell Jobs and her friend ended up sneaking into the reserved seats at the front of the hall.

Source: “Steve Jobs”

Jobs ended up sitting next to his future wife: "I looked to my right, and there was a beautiful girl there, so we started chatting while I was waiting to be introduced," he said.

Source: “Steve Jobs”

Powell Jobs joked that she was sitting up front because she'd won a raffle and the prize included a dinner with Jobs.

Source: “Steve Jobs”

Jobs finished the lecture and chased after his future wife, who had already walked out of the hall.

Source: New York Times, International Business Times, “Steve Jobs”

He found Powell Jobs in the parking lot and asked her about the raffle. She agreed to go to dinner with him on that Saturday, and they exchanged numbers.

Source: “Steve Jobs”

Jobs prepared to leave for a work dinner but returned to Powell Jobs. He asked if she'd like to go to dinner that night. She agreed, and they headed to a nearby restaurant called Saint Michael's Alley.

Source: “Steve Jobs”

While Jobs' NeXT colleagues waited for their boss to show up, the tech founder and Powell Jobs spent four hours at the restaurant.

Source: “Steve Jobs”

The couple remained together after that night.

Source: New York Times, International Business Times

They married in March 1991 at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park.

Source: International Business Times, Vogue

The couple had three children: Reed, Erin, and Eve. Eve Jobs, 23, began modeling for the beauty brand Glossier in late 2020.

Source: International Business Times, Vogue, Business Insider

When Jobs died from cancer in 2011, his wife inherited his wealth, including stakes in Apple and The Walt Disney Company. The inheritance left Powell Jobs a billionaire.

Source: Bloomberg

Her stake in Disney initially made her the company's largest individual shareholder, but in 2017, she reduced her ownership to 4%.

Source: Variety, Bloomberg Billionaires Index

Powell Jobs spends a lot of her fortune on philanthropy, and Forbes named her the 29th most powerful woman in the world in 2014.

Source: New York Times

She told the New York Times in 2020 that she isn't interested in passing her fortune down to her kids. "If I live long enough, it ends with me," she said.

Source: The New York Times

"In the broadest sense, we want to use our knowledge and our network and our relationships to try to effect the greatest amount of good," she told The New York Times in 2013.

Source: New York Times

In 1992, she founded a health-food truck called Terravera with fellow Stanford MBA grad John Mullane. The pair sold Basmati rice platters and burritos with black bean dressing to white-collar workers in office parks. "We just wanted to offer a convenient way for them to eat healthy food," Powell Jobs told the Chicago Tribune in 1992.

Source: Chicago Tribune

She later backed away from Terravera to focus on her volunteer work tutoring underprivileged students in East Palo Alto.

Source: Vogue

In 1997, Powell Jobs founded College Track, a nonprofit organization that helps prepare low-income students for college through tutoring and mentoring.

Source: College Track

College Track now operates centers in three states and the District of Columbia.

Source: College Track

Powell Jobs founded Emerson Collective in 2004, a "social change organization" named after one of her favorite authors, Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Source: Los Angeles Times, Motley Fool, Vogue

The Emerson Collective makes grants and investments that focus on immigration, social justice, and education.

Source: Los Angeles Times, Motley Fool, Vogue

The Emerson Collective is a private company rather than a traditional nonprofit and has funded several startups. The Washington Post described it as a "kind of Justice League of practical progressives."

Source: Motley Fool, Washington Post

Emerson Collective projects include AltSchool, a venture-capital-backed school that aimed to transform education by personalizing student instruction with technology. AltSchool made disappointing revenues and handed over control of its four schools to another start-up in 2019.

Source: Forbes

In September 2015, Powell Jobs pledged $50 million via Emerson to fund a campaign called "XQ: The Super School Project."

Source: New York Times

That venture aims to transform education by revamping how high schools approach curriculum. Powell Jobs is the chairwoman of XQ's board of directors.

Source: New York Times

Powell Jobs has also served on the board of several other organizations, including Teach for America, Conservation International, and the New America Foundation.

Source: Bloomberg

She's a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and Stanford University's board of trustees.

Source: Bloomberg

Along with Michael Bloomberg and Ray Dalio, Powell Jobs is a founding member of the Climate Leadership Council.

Source: Climate Leadership Council 

In addition to her work with various causes, Powell Jobs has a reputation as a major art collector and enthusiast.

Source: Art News

She attended the "Manus X Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology" Met Gala in 2016 alongside Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Source: Business Insider

She's also a big sports fan. She bought a 20% stake in the company that owns the NBA's Washington Wizards, the NHL's Washington Capitals, and Washington, D.C.'s Capital One Arena in October 2018.

Source: Washington Post

Powell Jobs and Emerson Collective partnered with writer Leon Wieseltier to form a new magazine called Idea. She scrapped the venture when Wieseltier's former colleagues at the New Republic came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against him in October 2017.

Source: CNN, The Wrap

In July 2017, Emerson Collective acquired a majority stake in The Atlantic, which was forced to lay off 17% of its staff during the pandemic.

Source: Forbes, Atlantic, Business Insider

Powell Jobs commended the magazine for its drive to "bring about equality for all people; to illuminate and defend the American idea; to celebrate American culture and literature; and to cover our marvelous, and sometimes messy, democratic experiment."

Source: Forbes, Atlantic

Former President Donald Trump lashed out at Powell Jobs in the fall of 2020 over a report from The Atlantic that alleged he called WWl soldiers "losers." Trump tweeted "Steve Jobs would not be happy that his wife is wasting money he left her on a flailing Radical Left Magazine."

Source: Business Insider

Emerson has waded into politics. The Collective purchased television ads attacking President Trump's decision to rescind DACA in 2017.

Source: Vox

Powell Jobs has also put millions of dollars into political campaigns. She backed Kamala Harris's presidential campaign before the California senator withdrew from the race in December 2019.

Source: Business Insider

Powell Jobs backed Secretary Hillary Clinton in 2016, donating $2 million to Clinton's Super PAC through Emerson Collective and hosting $200,000-a-plate fundraiser that raised over $4 million, CNN reported.

Source: CNN

She also donated more than $600,000 to efforts to elect President Joe Biden.

Source: Business Insider

Powell Jobs was one of the Silicon Valley power players that showed support for California Gov. Gavin Newsom in March amid a Republican-led recall effort.

Source: Business Insider

Powell Jobs is most passionate about education and immigration policy. She met with President Trump to discuss the topics in March 2017.

Source: CNN

Powell Jobs owns a $16.5 million home in San Francisco that boasts six bedrooms, 6 1/2 bathrooms, and incredible views of the city.

Source: Business Insider

Powell Jobs owns three other homes in the Bay Area, including this 5,768-square-foot house she shared with her late husband.

Source: Business Insider

She puts on elaborate Halloween shows in front of that house each year that attract as many as 3,000 people. In 2019, the event was called "Fog Town" and featured a jack-o'-lantern tower and professional lighting, actors, and special effects.

Source: Business Insider

Powell Jobs also spends some of her free time beekeeping.

Source: Vogue

When she and her family are looking to get away, they sail off on the Venus. The yacht cost at least $110 million USD to build and was commissioned by Jobs but completed after he died.

Source: Boat, Yachting, Feadship, Cult of Mac

The yacht has been spotted in Göcek, Turkey; Milos, Greece; and Brijuni, Croatia.

Source: Boat, Total Croatia News

Despite her luxurious lifestyle and widespread influence, Powell Jobs tries to keep a low profile.

Source: Washington Post

"I'm very aware of the fact that we're all just passing through here," Powell Jobs told The Washington Post in 2018. "I feel like I'm hitting my stride now … It is my goal to effectively deploy resources. If there's nothing left when I die, that's just fine."

Source: Washington Post

Powell Jobs recently delivered a commencement speech to the University of Pennsylvania's graduating class of 2021 and advised the students to follow her late husband's advice to find work in what they love to do.

"Let his words guide you, as they've guided me," Powell Jobs said in the speech in May, according to CNBC.

Source: CNBC

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