Nick Hanauer is the kind of innovator and venture capitalist expected to power the country's next wave of growth. So why does he insist that only the fading middle class can rescue America?
SEATTLE--Nick Hanauer toddled through his early years in a cramped Greenwich Village apartment. His mother waited tables at the Bitter End. His father worked low-level jobs on Wall Street and as an editor at a publishing house. When Nick was 5, his folks left New York to join a family pillow-making business in the Pacific Northwest. They raised their three sons in a three-bedroom house in the suburbs and sent them to public schools. After Nick, the eldest, earned a philosophy degree at the University of Washington, he went to work for his father. In his 30s, he scraped together $45,000 to invest in a small start-up that sought to revolutionize American retail. It was called Amazon.com.
This is how Nick Hanauer has come to be standing in the owner's box at a Seattle Sounders FC professional soccer game, snacking on chicken fingers, and listing the very expensive things he owns.
"I told you about Mexico," he says, meaning the villa in Cabo San Lucas. "Did I tell you about the fly-fishing ranch?" Meaning the 170 acres in Montana.