The Bubble Baron Network
By Kevin Connor • Apr 01, 2010 at 12:23 EST
The LittleSis.org/AlterNet citizens’ investigation of the Bubble Barons concluded last night, after a month of digging deep on the super-wealthy individuals who benefit most from our bubble economy. Thanks to all who participated! I am currently working on a final piece on the investigation and our findings.
In the meantime, to give you an idea of how much information the bubble baron research crew dug up, take a look at the following two network graphs. The first one shows a snapshot of LittleSis.org data on the bubble barons prior to the investigation. The second one shows this network graph after the investigation. The nodes represent bubble barons and the organizations and individuals they are connected with, and the lines represent relationships between them.
A network graph of the bubble barons, before the investigation (click through for the full-size image):
Digging Deep on a Private Equity Duo
By Kevin Connor • Mar 09, 2010 at 16:14 EST
Stephen Schwarzman and David Rubenstein are co-founders of two of the largest private equity firms in the world, the Blackstone Group and the Carlyle Group. Both are under investigation by the bubble baron research group, with seanhartnett and Dan doing a tremendous job researching their networks and following their money.
As it turns out, Schwarzman and Rubenstein are closely connected to one another through a number of shared institutional affiliations. So far, Dan and seanhartnett have connected both of them to JP Morgan, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Asia Society, the Business Council, and the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. Rubenstein rises to the top of Schwarzman’s interlocks tab, and vice versa.
Two days ago, Dan noticed that Rubenstein was succeeding Schwarzman as chair of the Kennedy Center, and wrote a note:
One of the major objectives of the bubble barons investigation is to figure out where, exactly, all that money is going. Where are these billionaires investing their money? Which politicians do they support? Which charities benefit from their largess?
Today, I’m going to go over strategies for researching charitable contributions, and I’ll use my bubble baron, hedge fund manager Julian Robertson, as a case study. Several LittleSis analysts have gotten a head start researching these questions – this will offer a bit more direction on how to research these questions. While googling julian-robertson donation will certainly get you somewhere, there are ways to get much more systematic, detailed information about charitable activities.
What Makes Someone a Bubble Baron?
By Kevin Connor • Mar 03, 2010 at 10:34 EST
The Bubble Barons investigation launched last week by AlterNet and LittleSis.org has gotten off to a fast start, with over 250 citizen journalists signed up to track down information on the 67 bubble barons we’ve identified. In less than a week, the research group has made over 500 edits to the LittleSis database, building out data on everything from the family ties of Dennis Washington to the investments and donations of Stephen Schwarzman. More than 30 analysts have participated in LittleSis.org research trainings.
You can follow the group’s progress at the Bubble Baron research page, which shows recent edits to bubble barons’ profiles, basic information and updates for the group, and notes from Bubble Baron analysts.
For those of you who haven’t signed up, it’s still not too late to get involved: click here to sign up for the Bubble Barons investigation.
What does it take for someone to be deemed a bubble baron? I used three main criteria when creating the list, drawing on Forbes’ lists of the 400 wealthiest Americans: Read more…
Today, in partnership with AlterNet, we are launching a new investigation of the class of American super-rich we’ve deemed the Bubble Barons, “a select group of American multi-billionaires who saw astronomic gains in wealth during the housing bubble, and who so far have evaded all accountability in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.” Read the full AlterNet article introducing the project.
We’ve identified 67 bubble barons to target with our investigation. Drawing from Forbes’ lists of the wealthiest Americans for the past ten years, we selected individuals who were worth $2 billion or more (multi-billionaires); whose business activities are mainly in the real estate and finance sectors; and who saw significant gains in net worth over the past ten years (50% or more). Who are they? How have they made their money? Where have they invested it? How have they spent it? Who are their spouses, their friends, their closest business partners?
Join the Bubble Barons research group to help find out!
By Kevin Connor • Jan 20, 2010 at 14:58 EST
A brief roundup of what’s going on around LittleSis.org today…
* Inside the Obama White House. Priscilla, destructor & co continue to power through the Obama White House visitors list, which now includes over 150 visitors to top White House officials. Goldman Sachs has ties to more visitors than any other business, according to our current data.
* Cuomo. Andrew.stecker is digging deep into the networks of New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who is preparing for a gubernatorial bid against incumbent David Patterson. WileECoyote chipped in with a contribution of his own, noting that Cuomo used to be married to Kerry Kennedy.
* The Boston Chamber. Following on yesterday’s post on the Coakley campaign and making use of our new bulk upload tool (still in the testing phase), I added all 122 board members of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce to the database. Whew! (sometimes this site is far too addictive). In any case, advanced analysts will be able to turn all kinds of speedy tricks with this magical piece of software in the future.
* New analysts. Today’s new analysts include FlintFM, J.DANQUIST, and Justice4u. Welcome aboard! If you’re an experienced analyst, consider dropping them a welcome note and offering your support as they learn the ropes.
We are going to begin opening up the blog to LittleSis analysts over the next few months in order to offer more of a platform for their work and analysis and showcase the many ways in which the site is used. If you are an analyst and are interested in contributing, please drop Kevin a note.
Today’s post is by WileECoyote, an analyst who found LittleSis before it had even launched and has made steady and valuable contributions ever since. Wile E. is a fundraiser, and below details insights gleaned from research on the board of the American Museum of Natural History.
It took a bit of time over the last week to place all of the 50 Trustees of the American Museum of Natural History onto LittleSis, but it was an interesting process. As someone who has spent a career in fund raising and higher education, the group seems almost a perfect balance of the “time, talent or treasure” we typically ask a board member to contribute to our causes.
Last Thursday, inspired by the release of White House visitor logs, we launched a new project to compile information on visitors to the Obama White House.
In less than a week, analysts Priscilla, sundin, ellenp, and destructor have built and updated profiles for over 100 individuals who have met with the president or one of his top advisers (so far, chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and chief economic adviser Larry Summers). We profiled visitors that met with one of these individuals in a small group setting (ten or less total people).
Here are some initial observations about the types of people that get to meet with top White House officials (specifically the president, Summers, and Emanuel):
New project: Tracking Obama insiders
By Kevin Connor • Jan 07, 2010 at 13:49 EST
It’s been almost one year since Obama’s inauguration — and one year since LittleSis launched. At this time last year we were scrambling to add up-to-date data about the past two presidential administrations, and the incoming one, in preparation for launch. We built lists like this, this, and this (with lots of help from our friends), and managed to include some presidential data at a time when the American presidency naturally had everyone’s attention.
It seems appropriate, approaching this anniversary, to return to this project of collecting and updating data on the Obama administration. The release of White House visitor logs, and the awesome new tool Sunlight Foundation put together to help research the visitors (which cross-references names in the logs with LittleSis data), also seem like invitations to improve our data on the administration.
Starting today, we’ll be spotlighting Inside the Obama administration, the LittleSis research group focused on compiling accurate and up-to-date information on the current administration. Priscilla has led the group over the past few months, doing a tremendous job updating profiles for Treasury and White House officials. But there is lots more to be done, especially now that we have the visitor data to work with — we need your help!
Who rules the Chamber?
By Kevin Connor • Nov 10, 2009 at 10:50 EST
In the hopes of predicting the next defector from the Chamber of Commerce (following the high-profile lead of Apple), we’ve compiled comprehensive political giving info on the business lobby’s 100+ board members. By analyzing the political ties among the directors, we figured we’d be able to get an idea of who really rules the Chamber — and who is next to leave.
Priscilla and sundin pitched in to assemble the data, drawn from Open Secrets’ stash. Some interesting patterns emerged, and we built a fascinating data set. But I don’t think we’re ready to make any predictions, just yet.
In order to get a better sense of how the Chamber works, we need more eyes and better data. So I’ve started a new research group focused on the Chamber – join up if you’re interested in figuring out who really rules the Chamber of Commerce. It’s also linked from the front page.