Founder and Chair
Open Society Institute
A global financier and philanthropist, George Soros is the founder and chair of the Open Society Institute and Soros Fund Management, LLC. Born in Budapest in 1930, he survived the Nazi occupation and fled communist Hungary in 1947 for England, where he graduated from the London School of Economics in 1952. Soros moved to the United States to work in finance, eventually creating one of the first hedge funds. By 1979 he was moved to use his wealth to help build open societies where he saw an opportunity. In 1993, he established the Open Society Institute. To date, Soros has given away nearly $7 billion to support human rights, freedom of expression, and access to public health and education in 70 countries.
Philosophy and Finance
At the London School of Economics, Soros became acquainted with the work of the philosopher Karl Popper, whose ideas on open society had a profound influence on his intellectual development. He was attracted to Popper's critique of totalitarianism, The Open Society and Its Enemies, which maintained that societies can only flourish when they allow democratic governance, freedom of expression, a diverse range of opinion, and respect for individual rights. Later, working as a trader and analyst, he adapted Popper to develop his own "theory of reflexivity," a set of ideas that seeks to explain the relationship between thought and reality, which he used to predict, among other things, the emergence of financial bubbles. Soros began to apply his theory to investing and concluded that he had more talent for trading than for philosophy. In 1967 he helped establish an offshore investment fund; and in 1973 he set up a private investment firm that eventually evolved into the Quantum Fund, one of the first hedge funds.
Soros began his philanthropy in 1979 by helping black students attend the University of Cape Town in apartheid South Africa. Soon he created a foundation in Hungary to support culture and education and the country's transition to democracy and distributed funds to the underground solidarity movements in Eastern Europe. He founded the Central European University in 1991, a graduate institution now located in Budapest that focuses on social and political development. In 1993 Soros established the Open Society Institute, part of a family of foundations dedicated to building and strengthening vibrant and tolerant societies around the world. His visionary efforts span a remarkable range of activities in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the United States and his foundations have a strong record of achievement in protecting human rights, advancing justice, and improving access to education and public health.
Soros's most recent book is The Soros Lectures: At the Central European University (2010). A Chinese language edition of The Soros Lectures is published by the Hong Kong University Press. His other books include The Crash of 2008 and What it Means: The New Paradigm for Finance Markets (2009); The Age of Fallibility: Consequences of The War on Terror (2006); The Bubble of American Supremacy (2005); George Soros on Globalization (2002); Open Society: Reforming Global Capitalism (2000); The Crisis of Global Capitalism: Open Society Endangered (1998); Soros on Soros: Staying Ahead of the Curve (1995); Underwriting Democracy (1991); Opening the Soviet System (1990); and The Alchemy of Finance (1987). His essays on politics, society, and economics appear frequently in major periodicals around the world.
George Soros's political activities are wholly separate from the Open Society Institute. Read an official OSI statement on this subject.
For more information about George Soros's activities that are separate from the Open Society Institute, visit www.georgesoros.com.