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In our sixth episode, Charly Kleissner shares his investment philosophy, which he calls “deep impact investing”. Charly came into wealth as a technologist building several very successful companies in Silicon Valley. He developed the basis for what later became Apple’s OS with Steve Jobs at Next, but considers the B2B eCommerce company Ariba his masterpiece. Since selling his Ariba stock, Charly has devoted himself to impact investing to give meaning to his wealth. He co-founded Toniic, a network for likeminded impact investors, to share knowledge and deal flow. Under the umbrella of Toniic, he also launched the 100% Network, a group of more than 160 asset owners committed to investing all their wealth towards positive impact. With portfolio sizes ranging from more than 1 million to more than 500 million, they have jointly committed 6 billion USD, with more than half currently deployed. Some of these portfolios are the basis for the T100 project, a longitudinal study of investments fully oriented towards impact. We discuss the role of research to analyze risk-return-impact profiles. Charly reflects on his role shaping the impact investing ecosystem and shares his thinking around systemic change as opposed to incremental progress. He also shares why he is opposed to cryptocurrency speculation but believes blockchain technology and tokenization will shape the future of impact investing.


Key takeaways

  • In addition to exchanging experiences, pooling capital and sharing due diligence and deal flow was the main motivation to create the impact investing network Toniic. Charly views trust as key for a successful network and has been intentional in how to establish it within Toniic.
  • Charly argues that since most companies do not price in externalities on the social and environmental side, market-rate returns are not an appropriate benchmark for his impact investing. According to him, economic paradigms have overlooked that maximizing financial returns is not the main motivation of all investors. To change this, Charly and likeminded Toniic members share longitudinal data on their portfolios with researchers.
  • Charly is critical of cryptocurrency but is an avid believer in the potential of blockchain technology to develop impact investing. According to him, tokenization in particular offers 3 advantages 1) accessibility for small-scale investors 2) liquidity 3) incentivizing for impact.

About Financing Impact

Financing Impact is a podcast about funding and scaling societal impact. This podcast is brought to you by SciFi, the Societal Impact Financing Initiative at ESMT Berlin. SciFi is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, among others.

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