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Corporate Connections and Citizen Engagement

Corporate investors and hedge fund managers may not usually be considered typical citizen activists, nor is shareholder proxy voting a topic about which many people become passionate. However, Larry Eiben and twin brothers Kevin and Rich Gates feel great passion about the importance and value of voting and the responsibility of minority shareholders to be actively involved in the governance of the companies in which they invest.

As founders of the investment advisory firm TFS Capital, Larry, Kevin and Rich noticed that many of their clients and other retail investors rarely bothered to return proxy votes or otherwise engage with the management of the companies in their portfolios, thereby ceding power almost entirely to the large institutional investors which make up nearly 70% of public shareholders. Larry and the Gates brothers, all classmates at the University of Virginia, recognized an opportunity to give minority investors a voice and created Moxy Vote, an online service which allows individuals to join forces with a diverse group of advocates such as the Humane Society and the Teamsters in order to pool proxy votes and make a more significant impact on corporate governance.

People often are motivated to act by the chance to make a difference. This is as true in politics as it is in business, and is one of the reasons that Larry, Kevin and Rich have been consistent supporters of the Center for Politics. They have taken one of the founding principles of the Center, to increase civic action and engagement, and made it practicable by providing citizens with a useful tool to vote and make their voices heard. Their generous contributions to the Center ensure that people throughout the nation and around the world continue to benefit from the resources that the Center provides – and may even inspire a few to build their own tools to enable and empower citizens for action!