Nick Hanauer has become an important voice in the raging debate on inequality — and his provocative argument is aimed at his fellow plutocrats.

Why you should listen

Nick Hanauer has founded, co-founded and funded more than 30 companies across a range of industries, with a pretty notable record of success. As a few highlights, he cofounded a company called aQuantive that sold to Microsoft for $6.4 billion, and was the first non-family investor in Amazon.

Meanwhile Hanauer, a “proud and unapologetic capitalist,” has also been looking closely at society’s growing inequality gap, and the consequences it holds for our shared destiny — and the ultimate fate of our democracies. In 2007, he and civic activist Eric Liu co-wrote the book The True Patriot, an examination of progressive patriotism. This was followed by 2011’s The Gardens of Democracy, also with Liu, a vision for “growing” good citizens.

In 2013, Hanauer published a commentary in Bloomberg BusinessWeek proposing a $15 minimum wage (a suggestion that Seattle acted on this year). Early in 2014, he and Eric Beinhocker published "Capitalism, Redefined." In the summer of 2014, Hanauer published a much-shared essay in Politico that suggests, if societal inequality is allowed to grow unchecked, modern societies could start looking an awful lot like pre-Revolutionary France.

He is working on a new book, due out in 2015.

Nick Hanauer’s TED talk

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