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$191 million windfall goes to 41 year old billionaire “Giving Pledge” member David Vélez’ foundation
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$191 million windfall goes to 41 year old billionaire “Giving Pledge” member David Vélez’ foundation

The billionaire co-founder of Nu Holdings Ltd., the world’s biggest standalone digital bank, sold shares in the company for the first time since its 2021 IPO, raising about $191 million.

A native of Colombia, the 41-year-old studied at Stanford University and worked at Sequoia Capital before he founded Nubank. The firm went public in an initial public offering in late 2021, raising some $2.6 billion at a valuation of more than $40 billion. It has expanded beyond Brazil to Mexico and Colombia and now has nearly 84 million clients.

David Velez said that he sold 3% of his stake in the Sao Paulo-based company, or 25 million shares. The proceeds will largely go toward funding his foundation with his wife Mariel Reyes, which is focused on leadership and education initiatives in Latin America.

“I didn’t want to do this until at Nubank we could remove a lot of important doubts like: Can you ever make money? Can you keep growing? And the last three quarters have been phenomenal,” said Velez, who is chief executive officer and chairman. “So now I’m taking 3% of the chips off the table to start increasing in investing in the other side of the big mission that is driving us today.”

The sale comes after the company reported second-quarter earnings that beat analyst estimates and further cemented the bank’s rebound from a rough 2022, when interest rates shot up in Latin America’s largest economy. The company’s shares have rallied 88% this year for a market capitalization of $36 billion.

Velez has a net worth of $7.8 billion. He remains Nubank’s largest individual shareholder and retains nearly 75% of the voting power of the firm. His co-founder Cristina Junqueira also trimmed her stake earlier this year.

In November, Velez ended a stock-based incentive program for himself and declined any new stock compensation through 2023.

Ahead of the IPO, Velez and his wife signed onto the Giving Pledge to donate the vast majority of their wealth through philanthropic efforts. Their VelezReyes+ foundation is working with partners including Jorge Paulo Lemann on education issues in Brazil and other organizations in Colombia and Peru.

 “It’s about finding a way to give back to society over the next decades that wealth that luckily we’ve been able to create in the building of Nubank,” Velez said. “How can we help solve one of the most complex problems in the region, which is unequal access to opportunities?”

“There is extreme urgency to invest wealth now to help improve the lives of hundreds of millions of people.”

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