Born and raised in Paris, France, Berggruen was dubbed the "homeless billionaire" after he sold his personal residences in Miami and New York in favor of staying in a succession of luxury hotels.
Berggruen vowed in October 2010 to contribute at least $20 million to support campaigns that will attempt to enact into law the ideas that the Think Long committee comes up with. It is envisioned that these ideas would be enacted into law either through the state's ballot initiative process or through the California State Legislature.
Berggruen, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times in January 2011, said that he is particularly drawn to California because:
- "California's worth saving, to put it bluntly. California has a great history, will have a great history. Other places in the world, including other places in America, I don't think have that, unfortunately....[California] has history, it has enormous charm, but there's so much new and such an influx of new talent that California is fresh. When I saw all this sunshine [for the first time], the palm trees, the people, the openness -- very vibrant, very seductive. I still love it. When I'm here, I'm really happy."
Berggruen also said in the interview with the Los Angeles Times that even though he intends to use the state's ballot proposition system to introduce his concepts of reform into California government, he thinks the ballot proposition system is responsible for the problems:
- "One reason I think California is in trouble is [that] you can go directly to the voters. A lot of things that were voted on in the last 20 years have helped create these structural issues. [But] why not [use] the initiative process to help the reform process? That can be done in California. It cannot be done in a lot of other places."
November 2011 plans
Berggruen has given $1 million to the California Government Performance and Accountability Initiative.
- Los Angeles Times, "Bid to remake California state government finds major benefactor", October 27, 2010
- Sacramento Bee, "Billionaire wants state to 'think long'", November 26, 2010
- San Francisco Chronicle, "Nicolas Berggruen: 'California is worth saving'", January 9, 2011
- Los Angeles Times, "Billionaires, insiders plan to place $10-billion tax hike on 2012 California ballot", November 20, 2011
- Fox and Hounds Daily, "Hertzberg on the California Forward Initiative", February 23, 2012