Our story
Universal Owner is a mission-driven start-up that believes the financial sector has a critical role in combating climate change and other systemic risks 
Beginnings
Universal Owner’s founder, Thomas O'Neill, has long seen climate change and environmental degradation as the primary threat to human security in the 21st century. In 2015, he co-founded InfluenceMap to produce the world’s first system to analyse and challenge corporate lobbying on climate policy — the primary obstacle to an effective governmental response. Thomas left InfluenceMap to focus on the concept of impact and helping institutional investors achieve it through their engagements.
Why the Universal Owner name?
​The concept of the universal owner was developed in 1995 to describe large institutional investors with highly-diversified and long-term portfolios that effectively hold a large share of the overall market. Exposed to a representative slice of the market, universal owners have an interest not in the returns of this or that individual company, but in the net growth of the market. In turn, this means that it is in their interest to tackle systemic risks to the market, easily the most potent of which is climate change
 
It follows that if the benefit that a company derives from a harmful activity, such as emitting GHG emissions, is less than the costs that this activity imposes on the rest of the market, then a universal owner will benefit from bringing it to a halt.

In the 2019 paper 'Universal Ownership in the Anthropocene', Dr Ellen Quigley argued for an expanded definition of the concept. With the rise of passive investing and increasingly diversified portfolios, most large institutional investors and citizen savers are exposed to the future value of the whole market and its 'unhedgable' climate risk. They should therefore be thinking and acting as universal owners.
Newgrange_Entrance_Stone.jpg
The Triskelion symbol consisting of three interlocked spirals is one of the oldest Celtic symbols.  It appears on the Newgrange kerbstones, which date to around 3200 BC.  The Triskeles are thought to evoke the Celtic interpretation of the three realms of material existence: earth, water, and sky (and all their interconnections). We believe the symbol resonates with the perspective of the universal owner that sees the preservation of the natural world, the people, and the economy as intrinsically intertwined.
What does the symbol mean?