Gregory Penner

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Greg PennerQuick facts

Family: Married to Carrie Walton Penner (Rob Walton’s daughter); four children[1]

Age:  43 (Born 1970)

Residence: Atherton, CA[2]; home is valued at $18 million.[3] Penner and Carrie Walton Penner also own a $8 million home (perhaps a second home) in Carmel, CA.[4] They are clients of luxury landscape architect Ron Herman, who was once described in Fortune magazine as “gardener to the plutocracy.”

Wealth

Unknown. However, his father-in-law Rob Walton has an estimated net worth of $34.2 billion. Penner manages Madrone Capital Partners, an investment firm “affiliated with S. Robson Walton and other [Walton] family members.” Madrone’s investments include a $1 billion investment in the Hyatt Hotels Corporation, a $33 million investment in the failed search engine Cuil, and a stake the bankrupt solar energy company Solyndra, which was raided by the FBI in September 2011.

Educational and professional background

Education

  • BS, international economics, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, 1992
  • MBA, Stanford Graduate School of Business, 1997[5]

Professional

  • Founder and General Partner, Madrone Capital Partners, Menlo Park, CA, 2005-present[6]
  • Senior Vice President and CFO, Walmart Japan, 2002-2005[7]
  • Senior Vice President of Finance and Strategy, Walmart.com[8]
  • General Partner, Peninsula Capital[9]
  • Financial Analyst, Goldman Sachs[10]
  • Strategic Development, Walmart, mid-1990s?[11]

Political giving

Federal giving

Penner is an active political donor with a clear conservative bent. In the 2008 and 2010 federal election cycles, Penner donated a total of $68,800, with an 82%/18% split between Republicans and Democrats. He apparently did not give any federal donations during the 2006 cycle.

Examples of state-level giving

  • Louisiana: In October 2011, Penner and his wife each donated $5,000 to Kira Orange Jones, a candidate for the Louisiana State Board of Elemetary and Secondary Education (BESE).[12] Orange Jones, the Teach for America head in New Orleans who was elected to the BESE in this fall’s election, is said to have “[run] as the embodiment of post-Katrina reform efforts in New Orleans”—reform efforts that have been focused on charter schools and school privatization. Penner is on the board of Teach for America.
  • California: In 2006, Penner contributed $250,000 to “No on 82.”[13] The initiative, sponsored by actor and director Rob Reiner, sought to establish a universal preschool system in California for four-year-olds by placing an additional income tax on individuals making more than $400,000 a year, and couples making in excess of $800,000.[14]
  • Wisconsin: Penner and his Walmart heir family members have furthered their interests in school privatization by funding Republican candidates for state office in Wisconsin, a state none of them lives in. As the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism reported in September 2011, Greg Penner was the fourth-largest individual contributor to winning state legislative candidates in the 2010 elections that put Republicans in control of the state government. Under the first budget passed by Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican-majority legislature, funding for public schools was cut by $800 million over two years, while funding for programs that funnel public money to private schools increased by $17 million over two years.

Community connections

  • Board of Directors, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 2008 – present. Sits on Global Compensation Committee
  • Board of Directors, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, August 2007 – present. Sits on Finance Committee. Madrone and its affiliates own 6.2% of Hyatt’s common stock and 8.2% of total shareholder voting power.
  • Board of Directors, Cuil, Inc., 2008? – 2010?
  • Board of Directors, The Seiyu, Ltd., 2003 – 2008
  • Board of Directors, eHarmony, Inc.
  • Board of Directors, Baidu, Inc. (Beijing), July 2004 – present
  • Board of Directors, 99Bill Corporation (Shanghai)
  • National Board of Directors, Teach for America.Penner and Carrie Walton Penner are also listed as having given between $25,000 and $49,999 (date unknown) to the Bay Area region of Teach for America.
  • Director, The Charter Growth Fund, “a non-profit venture capital fund working to transform K-12 education by investing in innovative charter school networks that offer outstanding educational options for underserved students.”
  • Stanford Graduate School of Business Advisory Council
    • In May 2008, the Walton Family Foundation gave Stanford University $4 million with which to support the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities (Stanford School of Education). Greg and Carrie Penner reportedly recommended that the Family Foundation give this gift. Carrie Penner graduated from Stanford’s School of Education’s Administration and Policy Analysis program in 1997.[15]

 


[2] California voter file and Nexis public records search

[3] San Mateo County (CA) Tax Collector/Treasurer records

[4] Nexis property history and Monterey County 2010 assessment

[11]  “Wal-Mart Makes Deal with Palo Alto, Calif., Firm to Boost Online Sales,” Tracy Seipel, San Jose Mercury News, January 8, 2000.

[12] Louisiana Board of Ethics Campaign Finance Portal search, 12/09/11

[13] Followthemoney.org, California Contributions Report. Accessed 20 May 2011.

[14] Furillo, Andy, “Election Law Election law quirk spurs protests; Preschool initiative backers want to know where foes got funds.” Sacramento Bee. 3 May 2006.

[15] “Stanford gets $4M from Wal-Mart founder’s foundation,” Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal, May 14, 2008.

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