Beginning June 1, the prestigious Booker Prize — which for the last 18 yers has been known as the Man Booker under the sponsorship of investment management firm Man Group — will drop it’s double-barreled name. Back in January, the Man Group announced that it had decided to discontinue its sponsorship of the important literary prize. And none of that is going to add up to bad news. From The Guardian:
Silicon Valley billionaire, philanthropist and author Michael Moritz and his wife Harriet Heyman’s charitable foundation has been announced as the new sponsor of the Booker prize, a month after the Man Group revealed it was ending its 18-year sponsorship of the prestigious award for literary fiction.
Moritz and Heyman’s foundation, Crankstart, has committed to an initial five-year exclusive funding term for the Booker, with an option to renew for a further five years. It will not give its name to the award, which will revert to its old name of the Booker prize from 1 June, when the Man Group’s sponsorship ends.
And all of it means good news, not just for the prize but for international literature.
Moritz, a venture capitalist whose net worth is estimated to be $3.4bn (£2.5bn), established Crankstart with his wife, the American writer Heyman, in 2000 to support “the forgotten, the dispossessed, the unfortunate, the oppressed and causes where some help makes all the difference”. Recent donations include £75m to Oxford University in 2012, to support poorer students in taking up places to study and inspired, said Moritz at the time, by the generosity of strangers in England who took in his parents as Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany.
“Neither of us can imagine a day where we don’t spend time reading a book. The Booker prizes are ways of spreading the word about the insights, discoveries, pleasures and joy that spring from great fiction,” said Moritz, who was born in Wales, studied at Oxford and now lives in San Francisco.
Previously, Moritz worked as a journalist for Time magazine, writing a biography of Steve Jobs and Apple before turning to technology investment. He has been a partner at Sequoia Capital since 1986 and invested $25m in what was then the tech startup Google in 1999. His recent work as an author includes co-authoring Leading with former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson.
“These days I’m a global traveller but, just like the Booker, I was born in Britain and before coming to America was reared on English literature. Harriet and I feel fortunate to be able to support prizes that together celebrate the best fiction in the world,” he added.