Andrew Yang was born in 1975 and grew up in Schenectady, New York. He received a B.A. in economics and political science from Brown University and a J.D. from Columbia University School of Law.
Yang practiced corporate law for five months before becoming involved with startups in the areas of fundraising, healthcare, and education. His first effort was Stargiving.com, a website he launched in 2000 aimed at getting celebrities to make charitable donations. The site was unsuccessful, and he went on to serve as vice president of the healthcare software startup MMF Systems from 2002 to 2005. The following year, Yang founded the educational startup Manhattan Prep, where he served as CEO and president until 2011. In 2009, the company was acquired by Kaplan.
In 2011, Yang founded Venture for America, a nonprofit organization that trains recent graduates and young professionals to work for startup companies in cities such as Baltimore, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland. President Barack Obama gave Yang the Champion of Change award in 2012 and named him presidential ambassador for global entrepreneurship in 2015.
Yang also wrote two books: Smart People Should Build Things in 2014 and The War on Normal People: The Truth About America’s Disappearing Jobs and Why Universal Basic Income Is Our Future in 2018.
Prior to his 2020 presidential bid, Yang had not run for public office.