Andrew Yang: Here's what I'm doing next

Brittany ShepherdNational Politics Reporter
Yahoo News

Former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang is pivoting to podcasts. Sort of.

The businessman turned politician turned CNN commentator is launching a nonprofit called Humanity Forward — an activist organization with the goals of lobbying to protect private data, funding political races that align with Yang’s platforms, and launching a podcast. 

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“After the campaign ended, it was obvious to everyone that we needed to start a new org that kept moving the goals of the campaign forward,” Yang told Yahoo News on Wednesday afternoon.

Yang said he hopes to lean heavily into the activist world with his new organization as it fights for data rights, a key platform of his campaign. He explained that users who visited Humanity Forward’s website could authorize it to lobby large media conglomerates on their behalf, in hopes that companies that are profiting from user data would share those profits back.

Yang’s presidential campaign had placed a heavy emphasis on universal basic income (UBI), a $1,000-a-month payment that the entrepreneur said the U.S. government should pay each citizen. At a debate, he even vowed to have his presidential campaign give such payments out to 10 families. His nonprofit is doing the same thing: One person who donates $10 to Humanity Forward will receive $1,000 a month for a year. The group has also pledged to give $500,000 in UBI to residents in an unnamed town in New York state.

Andrew Yang speaks during the New Hampshire Youth Climate and Clean Energy Town Hall on Feb. 5 in Concord, N.H. (Mary Altaffer/AP)
Andrew Yang speaks during the New Hampshire Youth Climate and Clean Energy Town Hall on Feb. 5 in Concord, N.H. (Mary Altaffer/AP)

The company will also be funding political races, particularly those that spotlight UBI. Presidential candidates are potential recipients too, though Yang demurred when asked if there are any White House hopefuls who currently catch his eye. 

“I’ve been having conversations with the candidates,” he said. “Obviously the field has shrunk a lot. And I have communicated that something big around universal basic income would go a long way. That’s been a big part of the conversation.”

Among the Democrats still in the presidential race, only Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has signaled that she is open to adding UBI to her platform. She has not gained traction in the primary contests.

And although Yang was friendly with the other Democrats and had a bench of celebrities like Dave Chappelle and Teri Hatcher supporting his candidacy and his nonprofit, he said he wouldn’t use his inaugural episode to show off that network.

“We have a number of people that have already agreed to come on. I don’t think we’re going to lead with, like, a superfamous celebrity because that’s not really the goal of the podcast,” he said. “So we’ll probably have someone who is deep into the future of work or technology or artificial intelligence.”

All of this is not cheap for his nascent nonprofit. Big-name celebrities can help with donations, but Yang said he is counting on grassroots support from his “Yang Gang” supporters to lift the group off the ground. He did not rule out disclosing the donors.

“I think we would want to disclose. We’d have to take a look at it because some of the people that are donating might want anonymity for any of a number of reasons,” he said. “So I don’t think there’s really a very sinister agenda if someone makes a secret donation.”

Yang also has plans for Humanity Forward to host a summit in Washington, D.C., focused on the future of work — another campaign pillar — as well as work on voter education and outreach.

Yang ended his presidential bid after poor showings in Iowa and New Hampshire. Soon after, rumors circulated that he was positioning himself for a run for mayor of New York City or a vice presidential pick. He did not rule out either of those options while talking to Yahoo News.

“I wouldn’t say it precludes me from a political run, but I’m very focused on this org, and I believe that this is the next stage of the movement,” he said.

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