Now we’re up to four.
Four Massachusetts couples, that is, who have signed the Giving Pledge, the campaign by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett to persuade the world’s wealthiest people to give away most of their fortunes.
Phillip and Susan Ragon (right) recently became the state’s fourth couple to take the pledge, vowing to commit at least half of their riches to philanthropy.
He founded the Cambridge software company InterSystems, and she’s an executive at the firm. Forbes estimates their net worth at $2 billion.
In their pledge letter, the Ragons say their goal is “to leave the world at least a little better than we found it.”
The Ragons are already extensively involved in charitable endeavors. For instance, they created the Ragon Institute, a partnership of Massachusetts General Hospital, MIT, and Harvard University aimed at developing an HIV vaccine.
They also established the Phillip and Susan Ragon Foundation, and they’ve helped build schools for poor communities in Bogota.
Phillip Ragon, who goes by Terry, says his passion is “helping people in need in developing countries develop the ability to help themselves.”
To date, the Giving Pledge, launched in 2010, has 157 “pledgers” (a family or couple counts as one) in 17 countries. It’s aimed at billionaires — or people who would be billionaires if not for their giving — and originally focused on the United States but went international in 2013.
Winchester residents Bill and Joyce Cummings, who own the Woburn real estate company Cummings Properties, were the first Massachusetts couple to sign the pledge.
The state’s other pledgers are Seth Klarman, president of the Boston hedge fund Baupost Group, and his wife, Beth, president of their Klarman Family Foundation, as well as Harold Grinspoon, owner of the West Springfield real estate firm Aspen Square Management, and his wife, Diane Troderman.
This time, Olympics rivals are on the same team
They might be this political season’s ultimate team of rivals: Corey Dinopoulos and Chris Dempsey.
Two years ago, they found themselves on the opposite sides of Boston’s contentious bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics.
Dinopoulos was a major force in getting the bid underway, while Dempsey did all he could to quash it as one of the leaders of No Boston Olympics.
Dempsey won, but Dinopoulos was no sore loser. Instead, he reached out to Dempsey — and over beers they’ve struck up a friendship, realizing that they have more in common than not.
Now, with Dinopoulos running for the Boston City Council, friendship will also turn into campaign support. Dempsey is backing his old foe in what is expected to be a hotly contested race to fill the seat Bill Linehan will be giving up.
“Even though people disagreed with him and Boston 2024, that’s not a reason to say no to his candidacy,” said Dempsey, who will be speaking at Dinopoulos’s kickoff event Thursday evening.
In particular, the two have bonded over the need to improve public transportation.
Dempsey is a former state transportation official who is now director of Transportation for Massachusetts, a prominent advocacy group. (Dempsey’s support reflects his own views.)
Dinopoulos, a South Boston resident, is running in large part because he wants a better MBTA.
“We need a stronger voice on the City Council for public transportation issues,” he said. “We don’t have much jurisdiction, but there is no reason a city councilor can’t be speaking out more.”
The alliance of Dinopoulos and Dempsey is also unusual given today’s fractious political environment. As Dinopoulos puts it, it’s a statement that “politics doesn’t have to be divisive.”
But there’s probably one more reason they get along so well now. They both agree on this: No more Olympic bids.
A rugged approach to acquisitions
Rob Dickens and Brad Scudder are lawyers by training. But their focus these days isn’t in the courtroom. It’s out on the roads.
They are the founders of Rugged Races, a race production company based in Downtown Crossing.
Best known for its Rugged Maniac obstacle races, Rugged Races is now branching out into road races, cycling events, and other athletic competitions as it expands its national footprint.
They bought a minority interest in the Boston Triathlon roughly a year ago, a race in South Boston that’s sponsored by Columbia Threadneedle Investments.
Now, Dickens and Scudder are fully acquiring race companies, starting with Loco Sports of Newmarket, N.H. Dickens says that Rugged bought Loco, which produces more than a dozen road races each year, from its owners in January.
The 40-person Boston company’s goal is to do more deals like this one, and to gain efficiencies through greater purchasing power and centralized website design.
“Shark Tank” star Mark Cuban is playing an important role here: The owner of the Dallas Mavericks invested $1.75 million in Rugged in 2014, taking a minority stake.
Dickens says Cuban provides helpful guidance as the Rugged team considers more acquisitions.
“He’s a great resource for things like that,” Dickens says.
“He’s super smart. He’s got all kinds of connections. . . . Partnering with him was a great way to elevate our brand.”
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