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The Spencer Trask Legacy
Ideas that changed the world

We strive to live up to the legacy of Mr. Spencer Trask. He backed Edison’s incandescent light, ran the first electricity company (ConEd), saved The New York Times and was a generous patron of the arts.

Lighting up the World

In the 1870’s, Mr. Trask began investing in and supporting entrepreneurs whose ideas and companies have literally changed the world.  As an original trustee and a member of the executive committee of the Edison Electric Light Company (now General Electric), Trask supported Thomas Edison’s invention of the light bulb – the very symbol of a good idea.  When Edison got it working, Mr. Trask became president of the first electric company, (now Consolidated Edison).  In light of his pioneering role, it may be fair to say that Mr. Trask helped launch the modern age.  Some have even called him an “Enigmatic Titan.”

Saving the New York Times

Mr. Trask and his partners led a group that saved the struggling New York Times from bankruptcy. Trask named himself chairman and hired Adolph S. Ochs as publisher—turning the Times into arguably the most influential publication in the world.

 

From The San Francisco Examiner: The Birth of the World’s Greatest Newspaper

“The sale took place on August 13 at noon in the New York Real Estate Exchange across from Trinity Church and went off quietly.  As a legal formality, Spencer Trask, as head of the reorganization committee, made a $75,000 bid for the old Times, and it was knocked down to him.  There were no other bidders.”

Ranking the Financial Markets

Mr. Trask hired John Moody who set up the statistical analysis service that became Moody’s Investor Service, the rating agency for the world, monitoring corporate giants and nations alike.

Support Artistic Visionaries

Not only did Mr. Spencer Trask back inventors and entrepreneurs, he and his wife, Katrina, were significant supporters of artistic visionaries.  In addition to serving as president of the National Arts Club, and a patron and member of the Municipal Art Society of New York and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Trasks turned their 400-acre, Saratoga Springs, New York estate into a community for artists and writers called Yaddo.  The Yaddo Community has nurtured the creativity of thousands of artists who have collectively amassed 61 Pulitzer Prizes, 56 National Book Awards, 22 National Book Critics Circle Award and a Nobel Prize, among countless other honors. Such notables include: Philip Roth, Alice Walker, Leonard Bernstein, Sylvia Plath, Mario Puzo and Saul Bellow.

Spencer Trask Today

More than a century later, the ripple effect of Mr. Spencer Trask’s belief in entrepreneurs continues to light up the world and touch lives everywhere. His legacy is the inspiration for modern day Spencer Trask & Co. as it backs the Edisons of today — visionaries whose breakthrough innovations may represent tomorrow’s breakout investments.

Discover how today’s Spencer Trask Network works.