Your vote matters — your dollar should, too
Looking back as we move forward: A letter from our CEO, Kendrick Nguyen
This week, Republic passed a major milestone: we facilitated the raising of more in one day than we did in all of 2018. We hosted the first deal to hit the new $5 million fundraising cap under Regulation Crowdfunding. At the same time, Arlan Hamilton’s Backstage Capital raised more than double its oversubscribed first tranche, while we conducted the first close of our parent company’s $36 million Series A fundraise.
This is the next step in Republic’s mission to change the world and empower individuals to build wealth by investing in a future they believe in. A step that would have been impossible barely twenty years ago, when the world we live in now was first emerging.
Growing up in the Bay Area in the ’90s, I was surrounded by the enormous wealth that was being created by the first dot-com boom. I was inspired by the headlines I read in newspapers and the stories I saw on TV about smart young programmers who had made millions, and sometimes billions, bringing powerful new technologies into the world. These people were building the future and getting rich doing it. I wanted in.
I soon realized I couldn’t take part. Not because I was only a teenager — but because neither I, nor anyone in my family, was rich. Investing and entrepreneurship was an insider’s game, and we were decidedly on the outside.
Like more than 90% Americans, my family was shut out of the opportunity to invest in Amazon, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Google in the early stages. We didn’t have enough money or know the right people. That unfairness felt just as real when, years later as a law student, I had to explain to my siblings that they were barred from investing in exciting tech companies because, by law, that privilege was reserved only for the wealthiest Americans.
However, this is not new, and investing is not the only right Americans had to fight to gain access to.
Voting, like venture investing, was once restricted to the wealthy elite.
In America, we are proud to tout our democratic heritage. It can be easy to forget that, for a sizable majority of U.S. history, significant portions of the population weren’t even eligible to vote. Only white men could be eligible at all, and even then, there were property requirements that limited suffrage to wealthy landowners. Over many years, different groups fought for their right to have a say in national politics and government: for their right to vote.
Nowadays, almost everyone agrees that voting is a fundamental, universal right. Yet property and wealth-based restrictions continue to limit access to the most lucrative and transformative investment opportunities. People continue to defend these restrictions by claiming they are in place to protect the unsophisticated mass of retail investors who lack the understanding needed to make the same well-reasoned decisions as venture capitalists. These arguments ring similar to those used to limit suffrage in past eras.
The 3 P’s
To my mind, investing is a form of enfranchisement. And it should revolve around the 3 P’s: passion, profit and power.
As I moved through my career, first in corporate law and then asset management, I began to understand the centrality of investment to true empowerment. I had begun with a common perception of investing as a kind of chore, a boring thing people nevertheless ought to do. Investing was the domain of staid, gray-suited bankers in New York. Or so I thought.
But what I came to realize was that, at least for a lucky few, this could not have been farther from the truth. For successful entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, passion and profitability were one and the same. The Jack Dorseys and Elon Musks of the world got to live their dreams and get rich doing it.
Why should this kind of fulfilment, empowerment, and wealth creation be limited to the few?
The future we can build together
Motivated by memories of my 15-year-old self, I co-founded Republic to bring the 3 P’s to everyone. I thought of how my family was denied access to the spoils of the dot-com boom because they weren’t wealthy, and I wanted to change the system. It shouldn’t require wealth to start building wealth. This is the change that we are effecting, together with all of you.
This is not just about wealth creation. It’s true, expanding access to early-stage companies, technologies, real estate, and more will help ordinary people build wealth the same way the wealthiest Americans do. But it has broader implications as well.
When people can invest in anything they care about, they are effectively able to cast a vote with their dollar. How they decide to use that dollar contributes directly to the future we are all going to live in. If everyone invests and spends with intention, the future will be much more representative of what most of us want — rather than the vision of the handful of wealthy, demographically and geographically homogenous people running investment funds and banks.
This mission rings especially true today, as our team sees tremendous growth and celebrates unprecedented milestones. The $36 million we raised from our investors will help us grow our operations and make Republic even more accessible to more people. We have an exciting year ahead, and we look forward to rolling out some major new updates to our community over the coming months.
Republic’s goal is for the next generation of household brands to be the result of millions of people voting with their dollars today. The result will be a better, wiser, more inclusive future for us all.