J.B. Pritzker

J.B. Pritzker attends an event at Morgan Manufacturing in Chicago.
(Keri Wiginton / Blue Sky / March 19, 2015)

Billionaire entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist J.B. Pritzker is a driving force behind efforts to turn Chicago into a national hub of innovation and technology. In April 2017, he launched a bid for the Democratic nomination for Illinois governor.

Pritzker is co-founder and managing partner of investment firm Pritzker Group Venture Capital; chairman of ChicagoNext, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s council on innovation and technology; and co-founder of 1871.

“There is still an under-recognition that Chicago is producing great companies,” he told Blue Sky. “When I get on the phone with people, I remind them that this is the home of GrubHub and Textura and Fieldglass and Braintree and Trunk Club.”

As part of his efforts to turn the city into a “Silicon Prairie,” he also co-founded Chicago Ventures, funded Techstars Chicago and Built in Chicago, and helped to create the Illinois Venture Capital Association. In 2014 he hosted the first Chicago Venture Summit.

He and wife M.K. Pritzker donated $100 million to Northwestern University’s School of Law to pay for scholarships and grants and support the college’s social justice, entrepreneurship, and civil and human rights initiatives. Pritzker led the campaign to build the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center and is a leading proponent of early childhood education and funding programs to serve children living in poverty. He and his wife M.K. head the Pritzker Family Foundation.

He is active in Democratic politics and founded Democratic Leadership for the 21st Century, a national organization focused on attracting young voters to the Democratic Party. In 2008, he was co-chair of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Pritzker earned his J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law and has a bachelor’s degree from Duke University. He and his wife live in Chicago with their two children.