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Andrew Yang
Andrew Yang by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Yang in 2019
Co-Chair of the Forward Party
Assumed office
July 28, 2022
Preceded by Position established
Personal details
Born (1975-01-13) January 13, 1975 (age 48)
Schenectady, New York, U.S.
Political party Forward (since 2021)
Other political
Democratic (1995–2021)
Evelyn Lu
(m. 2011)
Children 2
Education Brown University (BA)
Columbia University (JD)
  • Entrepreneur
  • politician
  • political commentator
  • author
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 楊安澤
Simplified Chinese 杨安泽

Andrew Yang (born January 13, 1975) is an American businessman, attorney, lobbyist, and political candidate. Yang was a candidate in the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries and the 2021 New York City Democratic mayoral primary. He is the co-chair of the Forward Party, alongside former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman.

The son of Taiwanese immigrants, Yang was born and raised in New York State. He attended Brown University and Columbia Law School. Yang became a prominent candidate in the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries. His signature policy was a universal basic income (UBI) of $1,000 a month as a response to job displacement by automation. Yang has been credited with popularizing the idea of universal basic income through his candidacy and activism.

News outlets described Yang as the most surprising candidate of the 2020 election cycle, going from a relative unknown to a major competitor in the race. Yang qualified for and participated in seven of the first eight Democratic debates. His supporters, informally known as the "Yang Gang", included several high-profile celebrities. Yang suspended his campaign on February 11, 2020, shortly after the New Hampshire primary. After his campaign ended, Yang joined CNN as a political commentator, announced the creation of the political nonprofit organization Humanity Forward, and ran in the 2021 New York City Democratic mayoral primary. Yang conceded the race shortly after the initial ranked choice votes were released, which placed him fourth.

On October 4, 2021, Andrew Yang announced that he was leaving the Democratic Party to become an independent, faulting what he characterized as a system stuck in increasing polarization and saying that he is "more comfortable trying to fix the system than being a part of it". Later in October 2021, Yang founded the Forward Party – a centrist political action committee.

Early life and education

Andrew Yang was born on January 13, 1975, in Schenectady, New York. His parents emigrated from Taiwan to the U.S. in the 1960s and met in graduate school at the University of California, Berkeley. Yang is of Hoklo Taiwanese descent. His father graduated with a Ph.D. in physics and worked in the research labs of IBM and General Electric, generating over 50 patents in his career. His mother graduated with a master's degree in statistics before becoming a systems administrator at a university, and later an artist. Yang has an older brother, Lawrence, who is a psychology professor at New York University.

Yang grew up in Somers in Westchester County, New York. He has described being bullied and called racial slurs by classmates while attending public school, in part because he was one of the smaller children in his class after skipping a grade. He attended Phillips Exeter Academy, a boarding school in New Hampshire. Yang was part of the 1992 U.S. national debate team, which competed at the world championships in London. After graduating from Exeter in 1992, he enrolled at Brown University, where he majored in economics and political science, graduating in 1996. He then attended Columbia Law School, earning a Juris Doctor in 1999.

Business career

Early career

After graduating from law school, Yang began his career as a corporate attorney at Davis Polk & Wardwell in New York City. Yang later described the job as "a pie-eating contest, and if you won, your prize was more pie". He left the law firm after five months, which he has called "the five worst months of my life".

In February 2000, Yang joined his office mate, Jonathan Philips, in launching Stargiving, a website for celebrity-affiliated philanthropic fundraising. The startup had some initial success, but folded in 2002 as the dot-com bubble burst. Yang became involved in other ventures, including a party-organizing business. From 2002 to 2005, he served as the vice president of a healthcare startup.

Manhattan Prep

After working in the healthcare industry for four years, Yang left MMF Systems to join his friend Zeke Vanderhoek at a small test preparation company, Manhattan Prep. In 2006, Vanderhoek asked Yang to take over as CEO. While Yang was CEO, the company primarily provided GMAT test preparation. It expanded from five to 69 locations and was acquired by Kaplan, Inc. in December 2009. Yang resigned as the company's president in early 2012. Yang later said it was during his time at Manhattan Prep that he became a millionaire.

In September 2019 testimony before the New York City Commission on Gender Equity, former employee Kimberly Watkins testified that Yang had fired her because he felt that she would not work as hard after getting married. Yang has denied the allegations. In an appearance on The View, Yang said, "I've had so many phenomenal women leaders that have elevated me and my organizations at every phase of my career, and if I was that kind of person I would never have had any success."

In November, a former employee of Yang's at Manhattan GMAT filed a lawsuit against him for allegedly paying her less than her male co-workers and subsequently firing her for asking for a raise. Yang and another female employee at the company disputed the anonymous woman's claim that she was in an equivalent position to the male co-workers she cited.

Venture for America

Following Kaplan's acquisition of Manhattan Prep in late 2009, Yang began to work on creating a new nonprofit fellowship program, Venture for America (VFA), which he founded in 2011. The organization was intended to find and train entrepreneurs to start businesses in economically stressed cities. VFA was launched with $200,000 and trained 40 graduates in 2012 and 69 in 2013. VFA added Columbus, Miami, San Antonio, and St. Louis in 2014, with a class of 106.

Andrew Yang talking about urban entrepreneurship at Techonomy Conference 2015 in Detroit, MI
Yang speaks about urban entrepreneurship at the 2015 Techonomy Conference in Detroit, Michigan.

VFA quickly received national attention, including from the Obama administration. In 2011, Yang was recognized by "Champions of Change", a White House program that honored 500 people from every state for extraordinary work in their communities. In 2015, Yang was named a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship.

VFA has also been criticized for falling far short of its 100,000 job goal. An ABC News investigation found that VFA's own tally counted only 365 jobs created as of 2020 and of those The New York Times has found only 150 remain. Startup, a documentary film co-directed by Cynthia Wade and Cheryl Miller Houser about six startups in Detroit launched through VFA, was released in 2016. Yang stepped down from his position as CEO of VFA in March 2017 but continued to advise startups aligned with his signature policy of universal basic income during his presidential campaign.

Legendary Ventures

On August 10, 2022, Andrew Yang joined the advisory team at Legendary Ventures, an early stage venture capital firm, to drive strategic value across the firm’s portfolio of consumer retail technology investments, alongside Fung Brothers Ventures.

Humanity Forward

On March 5, 2020, following the suspension of his presidential campaign, Yang announced that he was creating the nonprofit organization Humanity Forward Foundation, dedicated to promoting the ideas he campaigned on during his run, such as UBI, ranked voting, and data privacy. Yang also announced that the organization, together with The Spark of Hudson, forming HudsonUP, would give away $500,000 in UBI to the residents of Hudson, New York, to demonstrate UBI's benefits. After the Trump administration said it was considering a form of basic income in response to the pandemic, Yang announced that he had been in touch with the White House and had offered his team's services.

On March 20, CNN reported that Humanity Forward would soon spend $1 million on $1,000 monthly payments to 500 low-income households in the Bronx during the crisis. Yang tweeted that the number of households was expected to double with additional funding. On August 3, Yang announced that his organization was partnering with The $1K Project, an online network that helps identify families in need, who will be awarded three months of $1,000 payments. One of the network's founders describes the program as "a bridge to reemployment or other kinds of support."

Humanity Forward stated that it was not supporting or endorsing any candidate after Yang announced his run for mayor of New York City.

Lobby 3

On February 17, 2022, Yang announced the launch of a Web3 community whose membership token fees would be used to fund lobbying work on behalf of Web3, blockchain, and cryptocurrency interests on Capitol Hill. The announcement has been met with some criticism in part due to Yang's continued launches of organizations in addition to the skepticism around cryptocurrency ventures.

Net worth

Media outlets have provided several estimates of Yang's net worth: $1 million according to Forbes, between $834,000 and $2.4 million according to The Wall Street Journal, and between $3 million and $4 million according to Newsweek.

Personal life

Evelyn Yang (49453150641)
Yang's wife, Evelyn Yang, speaking at an event during his presidential campaign

Yang has been married to Evelyn Yang (née Lu) since 2011; the couple have two sons. He has spoken about his older son Christopher, who is autistic, saying: "I'm very proud of my son and anyone who has someone on the spectrum in their family feels the exact same way."

The Yang family lives in a rental apartment in Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan, and also owns a home in New Paltz, New York, that they purchased in 2015. This became the family's primary residence during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a focus of controversy during Yang's mayoral campaign. In 2019, Yang reported on his tax return that he rented out this home for 58 days to friends or on Airbnb.

Yang and his family attend the Reformed Church of New Paltz, which is near his home, and has identified Mark E. Mast as their pastor. He considers himself spiritual. Speaking about his faith at an interfaith town hall at Wartburg College, Yang said he "wouldn't be the first to say that [his] own journey is still in progress."

In 2020, Yang received the 2021 Vilcek Prize for Excellence in Public Service, awarded by the Vilcek Foundation.

On February 26, 2021, Yang stopped a physical attack on a journalist on the Staten Island Ferry by placing himself between the attacker and the journalist. The attacker recognized Yang and stopped the assault.

See also

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