In 2022, he founded two DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations), one focuses on activism while the other lobbies for Web3 issues in Washington. Yang believes that DAOs, where token holders participate in management and decision-making, could be an important feature of 21st century democracy. “Right now, our current democratic institutions are floundering, in part because they're not truly representative,” he said in an interview.
Yang rose to public prominence during his 2020 presidential campaign, where he went from an obscure candidate to a solid competitor in the Democratic primaries. He garnered multiple high-profile endorsements, and his supporters are known as the “Yang Gang.”
A key policy of Yang’s campaign was universal basic income, where the government would guarantee each citizen $1000 a month.
Yang was born in 1975 in Schenectady, New York. He attended Phillips Exeter Academy, a boarding school in New Hampshire, then graduated from Brown University with a major in economics and political science and Columbia Law School with a Juris Doctor.
Following law school, Yang took a job as a corporate attorney at a New York law firm, leaving after five months and subsequently calling it the worst five months of his life. He co-founded a startup called Stargiving, a site for celebrity philanthropic fundraising. Stargiving had moderate success but collapsed in 2002 during the dot-com bubble.
He worked on other ventures in healthcare and non-profit, including serving as Vice President of a healthcare startup and as CEO of Manhattan Prep, a test preparation company. Under Yang’s leadership the company expanded to 69 locations and was acquired by Kaplan, an international educational services organization.
After Manhattan Prep, Yang founded Venture for America, a non-profit fellowship program whose goal was to find and nurture entrepreneurs in economically stressed cities. The program caught the eye of the Obama administration, and in 2015 Yang was named a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship.
Role in the cryptocurrency community
Yang said Bitcoin had been on his radar for years, as he had friends who were deeply involved in the community.
However, his first real connection to the crypto space was at the start of his presidential campaign in 2018. He said that the crypto community were some of the first people to embrace his campaign and message. “I think it’s because the people in Web3 have a sense of optimism about the future and they know we’re going to need to do things differently,” he said.
2020 presidential campaign
Yang began his presidential campaign as a candidate of the US Democratic Party in the fall of 2017. At first considered a long-shot candidate, he gained popularity after an appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast and on other subsequent podcasts and shows. His signature policy was universal basic income, where each citizen would receive a monthly stipend in response to decreased jobs resulting from increasing automation.
Yang’s campaign released a 3,500-word pro-technology policy proposal that included repairing relationships with large tech companies, creating a Department of Technology, establishing stricter data protection laws, investing in cryptocurrency, and normalizing the treatment of crypto at the regulatory level. "The underlying technology of cryptocurrencies is very, very high potential and we should be investing in it," he said in an interview.
Yang emphasized that the US needs a consistent legal framework for the cryptocurrency industry if it wants to remain a competitor in the global financial market. He said that the current regulatory situation is confusing and could harm businesses and individuals in the space. He proposed defining tokens, adding clarity to crypto tax laws, passing consumer protections, and deciding which federal agencies have regulatory power over cryptocurrencies.
He also voiced support for mobile voting platforms where blockchain technology would be used for verification purposes.
Yang dropped out of the presidential race in February 2020, citing that he did not have the votes to win, and endorsed President Joe Biden.
In 2022, Yang announced the creation of two DAOs:
- Lobby3 – an organization that focuses on educating lawmakers and advocating for Web3 in Washington. Participation in the DAO requires members to purchase tokens.
- GoldenDAO – an organization that champions Asian American and Pacific Islander issues. Participation in the DAO requires members to purchase NFTs.
Participating members of each DAO may gain access to roundtable discussions with policy leaders, various events, and community votes, among other privileges.
Yang believes that DAOs offer opportunities for citizens to participate in the political process, especially for those in areas that are firmly Republican or Democrat where politicians have little incentive to listen to voices outside of their party.
“One of the great struggles of the times is, ‘What does effective governance look like in the 21st century?’ We have various political institutions that are not keeping up with the times. So, I’m excited about the potential of a DAO to activate our community in whole new ways,” he said.
Andrew Yang essentials
- Andrew Yang is a US politician and vocal cryptocurrency supporter, making technology and blockchain a tenet of his 2020 presidential campaign.
- Yang’s signature policy is universal basic income where each citizen is guaranteed a monthly stipend of $1,000.
- In 2022, Yang created two DAOs, one of which is focused on championing Web3 issues in Washington.