John Arnold
John Douglas Arnold

1974 (age 49–50)
Dallas, Texas, U.S.
EducationVanderbilt University (BS)
Occupation(s)Philanthropist and Co-Founder of Arnold Ventures LLC
SpouseLaura Muñoz

John Douglas Arnold (born 1974[1]) is an American philanthropist, former Enron executive, and founder of Arnold Ventures LLC, formerly the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. In 2007, Arnold became the youngest billionaire in the U.S.[2] His firm, Centaurus Advisors, LLC, was a Houston-based hedge fund specializing in trading energy products that closed in 2012.[3][4][5][6][7][8] He now focuses on philanthropy through Arnold Ventures LLC. Arnold is a board member of Breakthrough Energy Ventures and since February 2024, is a member of the board of directors of Meta.[9]

Early life

Arnold was raised in Dallas, Texas, and he was the younger of two sons. His mother later would work as an accountant at Centaurus.[4][10] His father was a lawyer and died when Arnold was 18.[4][10] At 14, he started his first company selling collectible sports cards called Blue Chip Cards.[2] He completed high school at Hillcrest High School in 1992.[1]

A 1995 graduate of Vanderbilt University, he completed a degree in mathematics and economics in three years.[10] He is a member of Lambda Chi Alpha.[11]


After college, he began his career at Enron as an oil analyst, but soon was promoted to assistant trader.[10] In 1996, a year after starting at Enron,[10] he moved to oversee the trading of natural gas derivatives at the Natural Gas Desk upon the departure of Jeff Bussan.[12] Using their new Internet-based trading network, EnronOnline,[citation needed] [13] he is credited with making three quarters of a billion dollars for Enron in 2001 and was rewarded with the largest bonus in Enron history, some $8 million.[10][14] His former colleagues dubbed him "king of natural gas."[15][16] When Enron collapsed, he was not accused of any wrongdoing.[17]

He then founded Centaurus, a hedge fund, with his previous year's bonus in 2002. He was widely quoted for his viewpoints on the industry by a government commission.[18]

During the collapse of Amaranth Advisors, Centaurus is widely credited as being one of the major players on the other side of their position, returning as much as 150% in 2005.[19] August 2008, Centaurus acquired around 10% of the shares of National Coal Corporation (NCOC).[20][21]

In 2009, Arnold gave a public speech to the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), in which he opposed limits on financially settled trading positions but supported limits in the physical energy futures as they near expiration.[22][23] Arnold announced his retirement from running the hedge fund on May 2, 2012.[4][5][6][7][8]

Other interests

In 2019, Arnold became the chairman of Houston's 2026 bid for the FIFA World Cup.[24]


Main article: Arnold Ventures LLC

Arnold started donating to the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) in 2004 with a gift of $30,000 which was then based in Houston, and two years later he and his wife pledged $10 million to help KIPP expand to other cities.[25] Other multi-million gifts followed to other education programs, for example to Washington, D.C. city schools for merit pay, to Teach for America, and to StudentsFirst.[25] Arnold has also given to The City Fund, an organization focused on growing the number of charter schools in the USA, and its political arm, Public School Allies.[26]

The Laura and John Arnold Foundation was a private foundation founded by Arnold and his wife Laura.[27][2] The organization was founded in 2010.[28] In 2008, the Arnolds were original signatories of the Giving Pledge,[29] a pledge by some high-net-worth individuals to donate the majority of their income to philanthropic causes during their lifetimes.[30] From 2010-2013, the Arnolds were heavily involved in the Innocence Project which led to their interest in criminal reform.[31] The Foundation is focused on evidence-backed giving for systematic change.[32][33]

In 2013, the Arnolds donated $10 million as a private donation to the National Head Start Association after the United States federal government shutdown of 2013 had closed the pre-K Head Start programs.[34]

In October 2018, it was reported that Arnold had spent more than $100 million in health-care related grants since 2014, with a particular focus on reducing pharmaceutical drug costs.[35] Arnold funds Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER), a nonprofit that created a formula to price drugs. Those who support ICER’s formula believe it could lower prices while critics argue that the formula is discriminator toward the elderly and those with disabilities or rare diseases.[36] Arnold also has been an influential supporter of Democrats’ efforts to pass a drug-price reform bill.[37]

In 2019, the organization was transformed into a limited-liability company composed of the former foundation, a donor-advised fund, and the Action Now Initiative advocacy organization, effectively combining philanthropy, research, policy, and advocacy efforts.[32] The new entity is known as Arnold Ventures LLC with the charter "to remove barriers between data and decisive action, working swiftly across the policy-change spectrum."[38]

In 2019, Arnold spoke out against donor-advised funds (DAF), criticizing them for delaying charitable giving and promoting giving to institutions that are less likely to need the money.[39] He proposed that foundations and DAFs should spend at least 7% annually, which would result in billions of dollars more being given to charities,[32] and that DAFs should be legally held to an annual minimum distribution.[40]

In 2020, Arnold was one of ten billionaires who had given away at least 20% of their wealth.[41]


Arnold Ventures LLC has invited criticism with its involvement in many controversial areas. They are on record as agreeing with some of the critiques and focus on partnering with organizations to maximize their impact without undue influence.[32] The former foundation was sued over a pre-trial web tool by the family of a victim who was murdered, but the District Court and a U.S. Appellate Court dismissed the complaint.[42][43]

Arnold Ventures' 2020 grant to trial aerial surveillance hardware by the Baltimore Police Department was subject to legal challenges but in November 2020, a federal appeals court ruled that the program was constitutional and did not invade the rights and privacy of city residents.[44]

Arnold’s foundation, Arnold Ventures, created a Public Safety Assessment which gave recently arrested individuals a score to determine their flight risk and potential bail. The NAACP and ACLU have criticized the Arnold PSA because they believe risk assessment tools actually increased the number of prisoners under the guise of criminal justice reform.[45]

John received an $8 million dollar bonus from Enron just before the company filed for bankruptcy. It was the largest cash bonus ever distributed by the company. Arnold was described as “unapologetic” for his success in Enron’s final days. Arnold was not criminally charged with any wrongdoing at Enron, but he was named in a bankruptcy lawsuit by other Enron staff.[46][47]

Arnold has been accused of pushing for pension reform in response to a lawsuit the California state pension system, CalPERS, filed against Enron.[48] Through his foundation, Arnold has aggressively promoted pension reform in the state of California based on a study his foundation conducted with Pew that failed to mention that Enron or the overall financial crisis contributed to the shortfall.[49]

John Arnold and his brother Matthew[50] tore down historical homes in the River Oaks neighborhood of Houston which led to criticism by architectural conservationists.[51]

Personal life

Arnold is married to Laura Elena (Muñoz) Arnold, a Yale graduate who had worked as a mergers-and-acquisitions attorney and had co-founded an oil exploration company in Houston.[52] They have three children.[53]


  1. ^ a b "Billionaire John Arnold explains support for DISD home rule". The Dallas Morning News. 2014-03-28.
  2. ^ a b c Apple, Sam (January 22, 2017). "The Young Billionaire Behind the War on Bad Science". Wired.
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  8. ^ a b "Ex-Trader at Enron to Retire From Hedge Fund". Retrieved 2013-10-08.
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  23. ^ "John D. Arnold's CFTC (U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission) speech" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-10-08.
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  25. ^ a b Preston, Caroline (October 16, 2011). "A Thirtysomething Billionaire Couple Take on Tough Issues Via Giving". Chronicle of Philanthropy.
  26. ^ Barnum, Matt (2020-02-21). "The City Fund has given out over $100 million to support charter and charter-like schools". Chalkbeat. Retrieved 2020-11-23.
  27. ^ Lev Facher, Lev, "How a billionaire couple greased the skids for Nancy Pelosi’s drug pricing bill, Stat News, November 26, 2019
  28. ^ Piper, Kelsey (2019-02-07). "Why this billion-dollar foundation is becoming a corporation". Vox. Retrieved 2020-12-18.
  29. ^ "Has the Giving Pledge Changed?". Philanthropy. 4 June 2019. Retrieved 2020-12-18.
  30. ^ Preston, Caroline (October 16, 2011). "A Thirtysomething Billionaire Couple Take on Tough Issues Via Giving". Chronicle of Philanthropy.
  31. ^ Moxley, Abby Schultz and Mitch. "Changemakers: The Leaders Reshaping Communities Around the World". Retrieved 2020-11-05.
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  33. ^ Moxley, Abby Schultz and Mitch. "Changemakers: The Leaders Reshaping Communities Around the World". Retrieved 2020-12-18.
  34. ^ Emma, Caitlin (2013-10-07). "Philanthropists pledge for Head Start". POLITICO. Retrieved 2022-08-05.
  35. ^ Loftus, Peter (2018-10-21). "A Billionaire Pledges to Fight High Drug Prices, and the Industry Is Rattled". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2018-10-21.
  36. ^ Roland, Denise (4 November 2019). "Obscure Model Puts a Price on Good Health—and Drives Down Drug Costs". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved April 28, 2021.
  37. ^ Facher, Lev (2019-11-26). "How a Billionaire Couple Greased The Skids For Nancy Pelosi's Drug Pricing Bill". Stat News. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2019-11-26.
  38. ^ Candid. "Laura and John Arnold Foundation to Restructure as LLC". Philanthropy News Digest (PND). Retrieved 2019-06-10.
  39. ^ Schleifer, Theodore (2019-07-25). "Why one billionaire is calling out Silicon Valley's favorite philanthropic loophole". Vox. Retrieved 2020-11-16.
  40. ^ "Are Donor Advised Funds Good for Philanthropy? It Depends On Who You Talk To". Worth. 2019-10-30. Retrieved 2020-11-16.
  41. ^ "How we Ranked Forbes 400 based on their giving". Forbes. Retrieved 2020-11-02.
  42. ^ Wing, Nick (31 July 2017). "Dog The Bounty Hunter Joins Lawsuit Against Chris Christie Over Bail Reform". Huffington Post. Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  43. ^ "June Rodgers v. Christopher Christie, No. 19-2616 (3d Cir. 2020)". Justia Law. Retrieved 2020-12-09.
  44. ^ "A divided federal appeals court rules Baltimore's surveillance plane is constitutional, cites city's struggles". Retrieved 2020-12-09.
  45. ^ Whitlock, Kay; Heitzeg, Nancy (21 November 2019). "Billionaire-Funded Criminal Justice Reform Actually Expands Carceral System". Truthout. Retrieved 16 June 2021.
  46. ^ Barboza, David (18 June 2002). "Officials Got a Windfall Before Enron's Collapse". New York Times. Retrieved April 28, 2021.
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  49. ^ Taibbi, Matt (26 September 2013). "Looting the Pension Funds". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 16 June 2021.
  50. ^ Anspon, Catherine D (18 July 2017). "Storied Texas Mansion Completely Demolished: The Bulldozer Brings Down Houston's Greatest Architect". PaperCity Magazine.
  51. ^ "Big and Modern on Lazy Lane: John Arnold Tries House Trading | Swamplot".
  52. ^ Lori Williams (2008-09-26). "Laura Arnold named to BCM Board of Trustees". Baylor College of Medicine. Archived from the original on 2010-12-26.
  53. ^ "Our Team | Laura and John Arnold Foundation". Archived from the original on 2015-02-08. Retrieved 2013-10-08.