Tracy Palandjian is used to looking far and wide for funds that will help support the nonprofit company she leads.
Turns out, seeking help halfway around the world was worth the effort. The Australian investment bank Macquarie Group announced last week that her Boston nonprofit, Social Finance, is among five winners of the company’s 50th Anniversary Award, out of nearly 1,000 applicants. Each winner will get $10 million in Australian dollars (nearly $7 million US).
Boston was well-represented among the winners. Last Mile Health, a Boston nonprofit that helps provide health care for people who live in remote parts of Africa, was one of the top five and will receive the same amount. (There were two winners from Australia and one from the Netherlands.)
“What are the chances?” Palandjian said. “We’re a hub of social innovation. We’re like a globally recognized hub of great things.”
This win represents the single largest financial award in Social Finance’s nine-year history. “It’s going to be transformative,” she said.
Palandjian, the 60-person nonprofit’s chief executive, said the money will be used, in part, to support her organization’s “impact investments” that improve economic mobility. Social Finance’s initiatives include programs to help veterans and immigrants find jobs.
These investments, including social impact bonds and career impact bonds, represent a way for investors to place their money in programs that address social problems. These are government contracts that repay investors based on how successful the initiatives are in reaching their goals.
Palandjian built a career at some of the biggest for-profit financial and consulting firms: Wellington Management, McKinsey & Co., and Parthenon Group (now EY-Parthenon). But she left that world behind when she was approached about a decade ago by Social Finance UK about establishing a parallel nonprofit in the United States.
Palandjian argues that investment capital can go much further than philanthropic donations alone, and social impact bonds are an effective way to tap into that funding stream.
“We have big problems, and if you really want to solve [those] problems, philanthropy is tiny, compared to the markets,” Palandjian said. “We really need to have the investment channel solving the world’s problems, too.” — JON CHESTO
When the big and the small join forces
Tristan Walker built a shaving brand geared to people of color called Bevel. This week, he plans to meet with people at Gillette, his largest competitor in the shaving business and now a corporate sibling.
Walker sold his startup late last year to Gillette’s parent company, Procter & Gamble, and just finished relocating his 15-person business to Atlanta from California. He comes to Gillette’s hometown, Boston, to visit colleagues and speak at a keynote event at the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce’s Fierce Urgency of Now conference.
The chamber’s FUN festival, in its second year, focuses on young professionals of color in Boston. It kicks off with an event at Fenway Park on Wednesday. Walker, founder of Walker & Company Brands, will speak with Boston Globe writer Jeneé Osterheldt on Friday. He’ll talk about his experiences as a young black entrepreneur and the opportunities and challenges that come when large corporations and startups join forces.
Walker says his company, which also sells Form-branded beauty products alongside Bevel shaving products, will remain an independent subsidiary of P&G while benefiting from P&G’s purchasing power and research.
During his talk, Walker hopes to convey the importance of top executives being consistent in decision-making and in how they engage employees and treat customers.
He also will make it clear that launching a startup isn’t for the faint-of-heart.
“This stuff is hard, no matter what,” Walker said. “If you’re a $10,000 revenue business or $10 million revenue business, each step of the way is difficult. . . . You have to be prepared to be resilient in times of extreme doubt.” — JON CHESTO
New job, familiar face
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s CEO, Jack Lynch, has a new C-level position on his team, but the person taking the job is a familiar face.
The Boston publisher just hired Mike Evans as its first chief revenue officer. The goal is to unite sales, marketing, customer service, and technical support under one manager. Evans most recently was chief financial officer at McGraw-Hill Education, where he helped orchestrate the company’s pending merger with another Boston publisher, Cengage.
Evans joins HMH Sept. 16. He’s likely to stay in Chicago, where he is now, but plans to be in Boston regularly.
“Our business model is moving to more recurring revenue in the future,” Lynch says, referring to subscription-based revenue versus one-time purchases.”
This is the fourth time Lynch and Evans have worked for the same company. At various times over two decades, they’ve worked at Pearson, Bigchalk (sold to ProQuest in 2002), and Renaissance Learning. They have stayed in touch over the years. “We’re thrilled that he’s able to join us,” Lynch says. — JON CHESTO
After 15 years of doing business under the 451 brand, the Boston agency’s cofounders decided it was time to change its name to reflect its expanded scope.
But AJ Gerritson, Nick Lowe, and Tom Lee are sticking with the literary world for inspiration. The previous name and its iterations, first 451 Marketing and then 451 Agency, referred to the classic Ray Bradbury novel “Fahrenheit 451.” The hope was to emphasize the firm’s digital approach. Gerritson said: “Our thought is everything we’re doing was too hot for paper; it’s igniting and going on the Web.”
But the name 451 wasn’t quite doing it. So they picked the name Zozimus for their company, which is now a full-service advertising and public relations agency. The name comes from the Roald Dahl novel “The BFG” and means, essentially, “the stuff that dreams are made of.”
The name change took place two weeks ago, and Gerritson says it has been well received by the firm’s clients and its nearly 90 employees.
“I feel like I just changed the name of my child,” he jokes. Having a new name is “strange but exciting at the same time. It just embodies so much more of who we are now.” — JON CHESTO