David Koch's reclusive nephew is next in line to inherit the family legacy, and he may be planning a shift away from conservative politics

david kochBusinessman David Koch arrives at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala Benefit celebrating the opening of &quotCharles James: Beyond Fashion" in Upper Manhattan, New York May 5, 2014.REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

  • Koch Industries confirmed Friday morning that 79-year-old David Koch, brother to 83-year-old Charles Koch, has died.
  • The Koch family legacy includes the second-largest company in the US, Koch Industries, along with numerous political and policy institutions and billions of dollars spent toward advocacy, with an emphasis on conservative and libertarian policies including free trade and small government.
  • After David's death, his nephew Chase, son of Charles, is in line to take his uncle's place as a key figure in the Koch network. As Politico Magazine predicted in December 2018, Chase will likely shift his family's legacy away from conservative policy toward broader libertarian ideals.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The "Koch brothers" became a household name thanks to the conservative legacy, network, and $100 billion company spearheaded by David and Charles Koch. Now, Koch Industries has confirmed that 79-year-old David had died, after a 27-year battle with prostate cancer.

With 83-year-old Charles remaining at the helm of the second-largest company in the US, hundreds of billions of dollars, a massive GOP voting bloc, and an exhaustive list of advocacy and policy initiatives running on the Koch family's dime, it's time for another Koch to step up and succeed David in the family business.

With all of David's children currently under the age of 25, and Charles' eldest child, Elizabeth, uninvolved in the Koch Industries or network at large, that role falls to Chase Koch, 42, Charles' son.
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Chase Koch has managed to stay under the radar for the first 42 years of his life.

Chase Koch has managed to stay under the radar for the first 42 years of his life.

Charles' son doesn't even have his own Wikipedia page (his sister Elizabeth, a writer and publisher, does). While Elizabeth calls herself apolitical, Chase has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republican congressional candidates, including Senators Mike Lee of Utah, James Lankford of Oklahoma, and Tim Scott of South Carolina, Politico reported.

He has not given any money to President Donald Trump's campaigns, which isn't surprising, given that his father and uncle have taken overt steps to distance themselves from the GOP after Trump won the primary, and oppose many of his proposed ideas and policies, including his tariffs, travel ban, and stance on immigration.

What he lacks in notoriety, Chase has made up for in his family's business itself, spearheading its venture-capital arm, Koch Disruptive Technologies.

What he lacks in notoriety, Chase has made up for in his family's business itself, spearheading its venture-capital arm, Koch Disruptive Technologies.

Chase graduated from Texas A&M in the early 2000s with a degree in marketing, unlike his father, uncle, and grandfather, the dynasty-builder Fred Koch, who all studied engineering at MIT. After graduation, Chase remained in Austin, Texas, playing Led Zeppelin covers with a garage band.

As the first child of the Koch brothers to join the family business, Chase took lead of Koch Disruptive Technologies after years of avoiding Koch Industries as a career option, because he was "too proud to tap into the Koch network" right away, The Seattle Times reports Chase told a meeting of the Wichita Rotary Club earlier this month.

Chase is less focused on the tangled web of political policy in Washington, D.C., choosing to live and work in Wichita, Kansas.

Chase is less focused on the tangled web of political policy in Washington, D.C., choosing to live and work in Wichita, Kansas.

Chase and his sister grew up in Wichita, where Politico reports his father taught them via audiobooks from great economic thinkers who embraced libertarian ideals.

While he may have nodded off listening to Austrian economist F.A. Hayek at age 12, Chase returned to Wichita after his years in Austin and worked a number of high-level positions in Koch Industries, including mergers and acquisitions, tax structuring, agronomics, and trading, The Seattle Times reports, which led him to where he is now.

His relaxed approach to politics exudes libertarian ideals, such as championing the free market and principles of independent growth.

His relaxed approach to politics exudes libertarian ideals, such as championing the free market and principles of independent growth.

At a retreat Chase held for two dozen wealthy young professionals in Vail, Colorado last May, the Koch heir shifted away from the usual Koch network attire of suits and loafers, preferring wool and trendy sneakers, Politico Magazine reported.

Chase also strayed from talking about conservative politics and policy, as Koch summits and workshops tend to do, and focused instead on broader libertarian ideals of personal transformation and "North Stars," or driving passions that encouraged the retreat's attendees to focus in on helping solve problems through nonprofits and advocacy work.

Chase has taken opportunities to invest in social justice following the rise of Trump's divisive rhetoric.

Chase has taken opportunities to invest in social justice following the rise of Trump's divisive rhetoric.

"Market-based Management" is one of the key principles that has allowed the Koch family to become one of the most influential forces in American politics and business. Chase has used the same mindset to apply growth-based tactics to social justice causes, some of which wouldn't typically jive with GOP principles.

Barron's reports that Chase, along with Koch Disruptive Technologies, has invested in criminal justice reform initiatives, including getting companies to hire former convicts. KDT has worked with a Dallas restaurant that trains and hires juvenile offenders.

Read more: How the billionaire Koch brothers became 2 of the most influential political donors in America

Other initiatives Chase and KDT have taken up include an Israel-based medical technology company.

Other initiatives Chase and KDT have taken up include an Israel-based medical technology company.

In July, Chase told Barron's that KDT had just opened an Israel office because of the country's tech scene and emerging entrepreneurs. KDT is on its second year of operation, and one of its major partnerships has been with Insightec, an Israeli company that pioneered MRI-guided focused ultrasound technology that avoids making incisions.

The Koch Industries' various arms focus on more than just crude-oil gathering and refining, which is what allowed Fred Koch to build his family's fortune and sphere of influence. The Koch family owns about 84 percent of the company's $139 billion, which grew from the $21 million worth it had in 1961, when Chase's father first joined.

Chase's first role with Koch Industries was on a cattle ranch when he turned 15-years-old.

Chase's first role with Koch Industries was on a cattle ranch when he turned 15-years-old.

Chase told Politico Magazine that it was his first job ever, saying, "it was kind of like a 'Welcome to Koch, here's a shovel' sort of thing.'" Like his father before him, Chase has taken on an extremely active role in his children's education, with him and his wife Annie founding a Montessori-style school for their two kids in Wichita.

The private school, which is called "Wonder," and operates on the Wichita State University campus, opened up 35 slots for students last fall and received over 500 interested applicants. There are plans for it to expand into a high school.

Chase Koch could be an instrumental part of the Koch network's so-called "shift" toward progressive libertarianism.

Chase Koch could be an instrumental part of the Koch network's so-called "shift" toward progressive libertarianism.

Before David Koch's death, he once ran for Vice President on the Libertarian ticket, only receiving a little over 1 percent of the vote in 1979. Two years prior, he and Charles Koch seeded the Cato Institue, a fiercely free-market guided think tank, which grew into a massive GOP-minded political force.

Now, the Koch network faces a "shift" away from Tea Party ideals and has attracted new donors through its social justice initiatives, like former NFL star Deion Sanders and Urban Specialists founder Omar Jahwar, whose non-profit recruits former gang members in Dallas to work as mentors in unsafe neighborhoods.

The "shift," as members of the Koch Industries call it, has angered some GOP stalwarts.

The "shift," as members of the Koch Industries call it, has angered some GOP stalwarts.

Politico Magazine reported that two months after Chase's Viall retreat gathering, a more traditional meet-up of the Koch network organized in Colorado Springs. During one of its final presentations, a photo of North Dakota GOP Senate candidate Kevin Cramer was projected on the screen, with Koch officials denouncing his protectionist stance on trade.

The meeting issued a message to the GOP, which has benefitted immensely from the work done by the Koch brothers to shape American public perception of Tea Party ideals and Republican candidates: the Koch Industries will not blindly support all GOP members going into the future.

The future of the Koch family legacy is set to continue with Chase as a major player, no doubt pushing him into the spotlight more than ever before.

The future of the Koch family legacy is set to continue with Chase as a major player, no doubt pushing him into the spotlight more than ever before.

The public has only gained a few glimpses into the life of Chase Koch, but that is likely to change following his uncle's death.

As Politico Magazine reported, Chase convened his group of wealthy young professionals again in 2018, before the midterms, to tour the Wonder campus in Wichita. With a focus on social justice, education, and emerging technologies, Chase appears poised to thrust his family's legacy into the future.

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