In a remarkable show of corporate social responsibility, Guillaume Pousaz, the visionary founder of Checkout.com, a prominent European payments startup, and his wife Laure Pousaz, have discreetly unveiled Pousaz Philanthropies—a charitable foundation with a resolute mission to support “quality and safe education” for children. This latest move highlights a burgeoning trend among tech entrepreneurs to make a meaningful impact beyond the business realm.
The foundation’s noble cause has already led to strategic collaborations with reputable education non-profits, including Khan Academy, Global School Leaders, Center for Global Development, and the Luminos Fund spearheaded by former hedge fund tycoon Christopher Chandler. The Pousaz couple, based in the tax haven of Jersey, have appointed esteemed individuals to steer the foundation towards its objectives.
San Francisco-based Sameer Sampat, a seasoned advocate for education, has been appointed as the executive director of Pousaz Philanthropies. Sampat, co-founder of Global School Leaders, has been instrumental in empowering teachers in Africa, South East Asia, and Brazil, thus epitomising the foundation’s commitment to driving positive change in education worldwide.
Two distinguished strategic advisors, Rebecca Goldman and Catherine St-Laurent, bring their vast expertise and philanthropic prowess to Pousaz Philanthropies. Goldman, renowned for her stint as interim CEO of Time’s Up and as the director of filmmaker JJ Abrams’ family foundation, joins forces with St-Laurent, who previously served as the chief of staff for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and was affiliated with Melinda-French Gates’ philanthropic investment firm, Pivotal.
The establishment of Pousaz Philanthropies comes in the wake of Guillaume Pousaz’s momentous financial accomplishments through his company Checkout.com. In January 2021, Checkout.com raised a staggering $230 million, marking one of Europe’s most substantial Series A funding rounds. This feat skyrocketed the company’s valuation to $40 billion after a further infusion of $1 billion in January 2022, effectively positioning Guillaume Pousaz as one of the wealthiest entrepreneurs in Europe, with his two-thirds stake valued at approximately $23 billion.
Despite this unprecedented success, Pousaz remained committed to using his wealth for the greater good. He registered the philanthropic foundation in August 2021, demonstrating his dedication to social responsibility and sustainable impact beyond the world of commerce. The foundation’s website was unveiled in late 2022, signalling its readiness to embark on a journey of philanthropic endeavours.
Beyond his philanthropic efforts, Pousaz has continued to blaze a trail in the financial landscape by launching Zinal Growth, a venture firm, in May 2021. The appointment of Luca Schmid, a former general partner at Coatue, as the head of investments in fintech and crypto startups in January 2023 has added further credibility to Pousaz’s entrepreneurial acumen.
While Pousaz remains tight-lipped about the extent of his donations to the foundation, his unwavering dedication to charitable causes mirrors a growing trend among tech billionaires in the United States, led by luminaries like Bill Gates and Melinda French-Gates, Larry Page, and Sergey Brin. These visionary leaders have set a precedent by establishing family philanthropic foundations as a means to give back to society and make a lasting impact on crucial global issues.
The rise of charitable foundations among tech elites has been more pronounced in North America than in Europe. The United Kingdom’s stringent regulations and limited tax benefits for charitable foundations have deterred many entrepreneurs from establishing them. However, exceptions like Anders Holch Povlsen’s Bestseller Foundation and James Dyson’s fund, alongside a few personal charities championed by hedge fund billionaires, provide inspiration for the philanthropic ambitions of the European business community.
David Goldberg, CEO of the not-for-profit organisation Founders Pledge, observes that while European entrepreneurs may choose alternative avenues like direct giving or donor-advised funds, the establishment of a foundation remains a potent and impactful vehicle for those dedicated to giving back on a grand scale.
Guillaume Pousaz’s philanthropic initiative embodies a new generation of business leaders who recognise the moral imperative to effect positive change and embrace their social responsibility. Pousaz Philanthropies, with its ambitious agenda, is set to leave an indelible mark on the global education landscape, symbolising a shift towards a more compassionate and socially conscious business world.