The Rise of Citizen Capitalism

Michael O'Leary, Warren Valdmanis

Harper Business, August 2020

In this provocative book, Michael O’Leary and Warren Valdmanis take us inside the fight to save capitalism from itself. Corporations are broken, reflecting no purpose deeper than profit. But the tools we are relying on to fix them—corporate social responsibility, divestment, impact investing, and government control—risk making our problems worse.

With lively storytelling and careful analysis, O’Leary and Valdmanis cut through the tired dogma of current economic thinking to reveal a hopeful truth: if we can make our corporations accountable to a deeper purpose, we can make capitalism both prosperous and good.

What happens when the sustainability-driven CEO of Unilever takes on the efficiency-obsessed Warren Buffett? Does Kellogg’s—a company founded to serve a healthy breakfast—have a sacred duty to sell sugar cereal if that’s what maximizes profit? Government has tried for decades to curb CEO pay but failed—why? Can Harvard students force the university to divest from oil and gas? Does it even matter if they do?

O’Leary and Valdmanis, two iconoclastic investors, take us on a fast-paced insider’s journey that will change the way we look at corporations. Likely to spark controversy among cynics and dreamers alike, this book is essential reading for anyone with a stake in reforming capitalism—which means all of us.

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About the Author

Michael O’Leary was on the founding team of Bain Capital’s social impact fund. Previously, he invested in consumer, industrial, and technology companies through Bain Capital’s private equity fund. He has served as an economic policy advisor in the United States Senate and on two presidential campaigns. Michael studied philosophy at Harvard College and earned his MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He lives in New York, New York.


Warren Valdmanis served as a Managing Director at Bain Capital Double Impact after working for Bain Capital Private Equity for over a decade. In those roles, he led investments in the consumer, retail, education, and healthcare industries. Warren has worked as a consultant and investor in New York, Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Sydney, and Boston. Warren received an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA cum laude in Economics from Dartmouth College.