Entrepreneur Andrew Yang, who last month ended his longshot presidential campaign in which he promoted a universal basic income, argued for data as a property right and called for a “humanity first” approach to capitalism, announced Thursday that he would create a nonprofit organization tasked with advancing those ideas.
The organization, called Humanity Forward, aims to bring Yang’s ideas into the mainstream through conferences and a podcast, and to build pilot programs that might put his ideas into practice.
“We knew we wanted to keep the movement growing; the only question was what form that would take,” Yang said in an interview Wednesday. He framed the group as “a natural next step” of his campaign effort, given his previous work as the head of a nonprofit.
Humanity Forward, which will be based in New York, will focus first on a “data dividend” project and campaign that would fight on behalf of consumers who want the rights to their personal data, Yang said.
Separately, he said Thursday that the group had received pledges of $3 million for pilot programs that would provide people with a universal basic income payment each month.
Venture capitalist Albert Wenger and entrepreneur Susan Danziger together pledged $500,000 for a trial in a town in New York state that will be selected later, and professional poker player Daniel Negreanu pledged $100,000 for other test runs; the rest of the contributors are anonymous, Yang said.
Though he used his campaign to spread his ideas, Yang said he had been somewhat hamstrung by his run for president. Now, he said his new organization would allow him to try to actually implement some of the proposals he pitched to voters.
“I have to say I’m super excited about it,” Yang said in the interview Wednesday. “My hands were tied as a political candidate to some extent. And now I get to work.”
The organization also plans to provide resources to political candidates who embrace the ideas of Yang’s campaign. And it will work to draw into the political process disaffected voters, young people and others who were inspired by his 2020 run, Yang said.
The podcast — its working title is “Let Yang Speak” — will be part of that effort, he added.
Yang said he hoped his organization would grow quickly with help from grassroots donors and celebrities who endorsed Yang, such as comedians Dave Chappelle and Ken Jeong. He said the organization’s small team primarily consisted of former campaign staff members.
Addressing voters in New Hampshire the night he exited the Democratic primary last month, Yang promised, “we’ll be back soon,” and Thursday’s announcement provides clarity about some of Yang’s post-campaign plans.
In the weeks since he dropped out, Yang joined CNN as a political commentator amid speculation about whether he would run for mayor of New York in 2021. Earlier this week, The New York Times reported that advisers to Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, had reached out to Yang after he withdrew from the presidential race to offer counsel about a possible mayoral campaign.
In the interview Wednesday, Yang said he was focused on getting Humanity Forward off the ground but reiterated that he would not rule out a mayoral run.
“I’m just about solving problems,” he said. “I would want to see who else is running and what the world looks like. I just want to put myself in the position to have the greatest possible impact.
“Certainly the mayor of New York City can do a lot of good,” he added. “So that is something that I have to take a long look at.”
As to whether he would endorse a candidate in the Democratic primary, he said that if a candidate were to come out in favor of universal basic income, it would sway his thinking considerably.
Before filing his paperwork to run for president in the fall of 2017, Yang ran the nonprofit organization Venture for America, whose mission involved training college graduates in entrepreneurship.