Green Watch

The Sequoia Climate Foundation: The “Secretive U.S. Vulture Fund”

The Sequoia Climate Foundation and America’s Secretive Climate Colonialist (full series)
The “Secretive U.S. Vulture Fund” | Following Fred’s Money
Funding of Anti-Energy Radicals | Climate Colonialism

Summary: Reclusive billionaire C. Frederick Taylor has become a left-wing climate policy influencer to rival Michael Bloomberg. IRS records for 2020 through 2022 show Taylor-funded nonprofits have already spent at least $450 million on an extremist anti-energy agenda that frequently includes opposition to even carbon-free nuclear power. A lot of the loot has landed in the United States, funding radical climate groups such as the League of Conservation Voters. Taylor’s ideology has also been exported to overseas nongovernmental organizations, with a disproportionate focus on Australia, a nation responsible for just 1 percent of the world’s carbon emissions.

Since at least 2021, California billionaire Charles Frederick “Fred” Taylor has likely been one of America’s biggest bankrollers of anti-energy climate alarmism. Although his spending on the agenda now rivals that of billionaire Michael Bloomberg, Taylor’s name has been absent from nearly all major media coverage of that particular subject—and all others.

Part of the reason for the publicity blackout is climate colonialism. At least 40 percent of Taylor’s funding has been directed overseas, placing it mostly out of the U.S. media’s sightline.

The larger reason for his muted media coverage is that Taylor likes it that way.

A February 2023 report in Inside Philanthropy declared the Sequoia Climate Foundation to be a “new giant in climate change philanthropy” and revealed that its “benefactor appears to be C. Frederick Taylor, a low-profile hedge fund billionaire.” But aside from other mentions in that philanthropic trade journal and passing mentions in the California business press, Taylor’s national media profile has been nonexistent.

In its 2022 IRS filing Sequoia reported $173.7 million in total grants. In 2022 Micheal Bloomberg’s Bloomberg Family Foundation (Bloomberg Philanthropies) gave grants totaling $233 million that were listed under the “Environment” giving category by FoundationSearch, a charitable recordkeeping service.

Much is known of Michael Bloomberg, the founder of Bloomberg LP, a financial information empire that includes the Bloomberg media properties. He is the former Republican mayor of New York City and a former Democratic presidential candidate. The annual dollars he gives to the climate alarmism movement are so substantial that he has been named UN Special Envoy on Climate Ambition and Solutions.

As of early May, Forbes ranked Michael Bloomberg 12th on its list of the world’s wealthiest, with an estimated net worth of $106.2 billion. Potentially the biggest mystery that remains about him is somewhat of a joke: The Bloomberg Billionaires Index conspicuously doesn’t include Michael Bloomberg himself.

It also doesn’t include Fred Taylor, even though it probably should. But Taylor probably won’t complain.

The “Secretive U.S. Vulture Fund”

In July 2023, the Orange County Business Journal listed Taylor as among the California community’s wealthiest people, with an estimated net worth of “$1.2 billion to multiple billions.” According to the report, the vagueness was due to the source of the wealth: “Taylor is the “T” in TGS [Management LLC], an extremely secretive quant hedge fund.”

The business newspaper also reported TGS was so secretive that there had been “next to no mention of the firm or its founders” since a Bloomberg News exposé back in May 2014.

That 2014 story remains the only substantive journalistic effort to investigate Taylor or TGS.

In that now decade-old report, Bloomberg News reported the discovery of a pair of obscure charitable trusts. Both were created on the same day in 2002, and their combined assets were $9.7 billion. The Bloomberg reporter wrote that this made the trusts (at that time) “one of the largest pools of philanthropic funding in the U.S., bigger than the Carnegie and Rockefeller foundations combined.”

But he noted that “someone had taken elaborate steps to make sure no one figured out where this money came from, using layers of company subsidiaries to obscure its origins.”

Bloomberg revealed the source of funding was three billionaires behind TGS Management: Taylor, David Gelbaum, and Andrew Shechtel. By the time of this discovery, the trio had already given away $13 billion to many causes, including noncontroversial efforts such as medical research. Taylor was credited as a major funder to the Landmine Survivors Network.

The Bloomberg coverage referred to TGS as a “black box” quantitative investing firm founded by the three partners in 1989. Sources familiar with the early history provided Bloomberg this comically vague description of the investing strategy that allowed T, G and S to strike it rich . . . and then hide:

According to Thorp, when the TGS partners started trading, they pursued a form of statistical arbitrage. In its simplest form, statistical arbitrage seeks to profit from the tendency of stocks that recently fell to rise, and stocks that recently rose to fall. Within a few years, the hedge fund had made enough to return money to most of its outside investors, according to Thorp and another person with knowledge of its activities. Without having to further solicit outsiders for money, they’d rarely have to tell anyone about their investment strategies. The three men could focus on multiplying their own funds in privacy.

Yes, buy low, sell high, and vice versa. Simple as that!

One such arbitrage action against Scottish investment funds, according to Bloomberg, put TGS “briefly in the press in the late ’90s” and led to British media referring to it as a “secretive U.S. vulture fund.”

None of the TGS partners spoke to the Bloomberg reporter, who made the following observation about Taylor’s lifestyle:

Taylor lives in a gated enclave a few miles from the hedge fund’s West Coast office in Irvine, Calif. Before dawn one day in March, I peered through a black metal fence into the compound in Irvine where TGS keeps banks of computers. The place was on a dead-end street between a sandy creek bed and a carwash. A row of pines flanked a cluster of timber and glass buildings. From somewhere inside the compound, machinery whined.

Describing Taylor’s background, Bloomberg reported that he came to California in the “early 1980s” to join the investing group where he met Gelbaum and Shechtel. At the time he was a “clean-cut East Coaster with an economics degree from Haverford College.” The May 2014 report stated that Taylor was then 54 years old.

This would make him 64 or 65 today.

The July 2023 Orange County Business Journal report on Taylor included an undated photo of a man who appeared to be roughly in his 50s. Referring to a $240 million “real estate mystery,” the Journal also reported that TGS had “rapidly ramped up its OC real estate presence over the past three years via a series of acquisitions, development plans and leases.”

An August 2023 home sale report on a $25 million mansion in Irvine, California, noted the residence was located in an 800-unit community where other reported homeowners included Taylor and novelist Dean Koontz.

In the next installment, California billionaire Charles Frederick “Fred” Taylor may be one of America’s biggest bankrollers of anti-energy climate alarmism.

Ken Braun

Ken Braun is CRC’s senior investigative researcher and authors profiles for and the Capital Research magazine. He previously worked for several free market policy organizations, spent six…
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