10 Next Gens with Illustrious Names – and what they are up to

Illustrious dynasties - Andrea Agnelli (main picture), James Vanderbilt, and Athina Onassis  Photos: Wiki Media, Getty Images
Illustrious dynasties – Andrea Agnelli (main picture), James Vanderbilt, and Athina Onassis  Photos: Wiki Media, Getty Images

Is there something in the DNA of members of great family dynasties that means future generations are more likely to become entrepreneurs?  Probably not. For every successful next gen from a grand family, there’s always at least a few “classy wasters” doing little more than spending the family fortune. And, let’s face it, being an entrepreneur is always easier when you’ve got a fortune behind you and many connections.

Nevertheless, some next gen members with illustrious names behind them are making a difference – here’s 10 of them.


Justin Rockefeller

A fourth-generation member of arguably America’s most famed family dynasty, Justin Rockefeller is director at a New York City fintech start-up called Addepar. Addepar was set up by one of the tech sector’s best-known venture capitalists, Joe Lonsdale. Justin, the great-great grandson of oil tycoon John D Rockefeller, heads up the family office and foundations part of Addepar – surprising that… The 37 year-old is also the co-founder of the non-profit membership organisation, The ImPact.


Jacob Wallenberg Jr

The 20-something scion of one of Europe’s greatest family business dynasties has already started on his entrepreneurial endeavours. A recent graduate of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Jacob co-founded software company SolutionLoft. He is the son of Jacob Wallenberg, arguably the most powerful of the living Wallenberg clan. Jacob senior chairs the board of the family’s illustrious investment group, Investor AB.


James Cadbury

James Cadbury, the great-great-great-grandson of John Cadbury, who founded the iconic British chocolate brand and company, has recently launched a mail-order chocolate delivery company called Love Cocoa. He also co-founded the property investment crowdfunding platform Property Moose, which has already raised close to £6 million. In an interview with the Birmingham Post a few years ago, James said his background helped with his entrepreneurial drive. “It drove me on I suppose,” he said. “Being a Cadbury definitely comes with a pressure, but really I just want to make a name for myself.”


Natalie Bancroft

For nearly 10 years Natalie has sat on the board of News Corp, the newspaper part of the Murdoch empire. In her mid-30s, Natalie is a member of the once grand and powerful media family called the Bancrofts. The Bancrofts owned the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones before selling it to News Corp in 2007. As part of the agreement to sell their media business to News Corp, the family were given a seat on the board. Natalie was chosen to represent the family and has stayed in the post for perhaps longer than many thought at the time – she’s obviously proven her worth.


Athina Onassis

The only heir of the great shipping fortune of Aristotle Onassis, Athina is an accomplished equestrian, competing in top events throughout the world. Her grandfather Aristotle was the epitome of the multi-millionaire Greek shipping tycoon in the 1950s and 1960s, whose fame became global when he married Jacqueline Kennedy, the widow of American president John F. Kennedy.

James Vanderbilt

In the US, you don’t get much more blue blood than the Vanderbilt family. Associated with the opulence of the Gilded Age in the late 1800s, the Vanderbilts were at one stage second only to the Rockefellers when it came to wealth. However, their fortune took a dive during and after the Great Depression, and never really recovered. Nevertheless, some members of the dynasty have gone on and been highly successful in their own right, including James. The 40 year-old has become a big player in Hollywood, writing screenplays for films like White House Down and The Amazing Spider-Man. Another descendant of the family is Anderson Cooper, the prominent journalist and news anchor for CNN.


Carrie Walton Penner

The Walton family are America’s wealthiest. The owners of the biggest business in the world in terms of revenue, the supermarket giant Walmart, there are seven members of the family represented on the Forbes billionaire list. Carrie Walton Penner is the daughter of S. Robson Walton, the former chairman of Walmart. Since graduating from Georgetown University, Penner has been a big promoter of charter schools (independent schools that receive government grants) throughout the US. She also sits on the board of various foundations, including the Walton Family Foundation.


Peter Daniell Porsche

With a surname instantly recognised anywhere in the world, Peter Daniell certainly gets recognised. He’s the great-grandson of Ferdinand Porsche, the man who founded the iconic car maker. Peter, 42, has been involved in teaching at Rudolf Steiner schools in Austria since he left higher education but also manages his investments through a family office. He’s due to inherit a sizable chunk of the Volkswagen business when his father Hans-Peter Porsche, hands over his post on the supervisory board of the family’s holding company, which owns 52 percent of Volkswagen’s voting shares, in 2020.


Hugo Mulliez

Hugo Mulliez is a third generation member of the multi-billionaire French Mulliez family, which is behind one of France’s most successful family businesses, the huge department store group, Auchan. The Mulliez family is said to be the wealthiest in France. Despite considerable pressure to join the family business, Hugo co-founded Artsper, an online art marketplace a few years ago, and is now its chief executive.


Andrea Agnelli

Such as its prominence in Italy, the Agnelli name is virtually royalty in that country. Andrea, 40, is president of the Italian football club Juventus, which his father Umberto Agnelli also ran. His uncle was the legendary Italian businessman Gianni Agnelli, who, in the post-World War Two period, ran Fiat and the rest of the Agnelli business empire with his unique Italian flamboyance.