Rudolph Steiner Foundation

Rudolph Steiner Foundation d/b/a RSF Social Finance

Rudolph Steiner Foundation (RSF) is a self-described socially-responsible investment organization that "seeks to revolutionize how people relate to money" by "transforming what it means to earn a return."   On its website RSF informs that it seeks to "redirect the flow of money in local markets, and heal an economy often damaged by exploitation and resource depletion."  RSF takes its name and purpose from the work of Rudolph Steiner, a German-Austrian philosopher and social reformer who died in 1925.  Steiner founded an esoteric spiritual movement called anthroposophy, which includes teaching in the areas of education, artistic expression, medicine, and agriculture.  Steiner's ideas included a concept of "spiritual science" involving clairvoyant experiences and the belief that individuals are reincarnated in a variety of different peoples and races over successive lives.

Most relevant to Cyanotech, are RSF's beliefs concerning the practice of agriculture. According to the Biodynamic Association (BDA), an organization created in 1938 that "awakens and enlivens co-creative relationships between humans and the earth," Rudolph Steiner was the founder of the biodynamic approach to agriculture.  According to BDA, "Steiner came to the conclusion that western civilization would gradually bring destruction to itself and the earth if it did not begin to develop an understanding of the spiritual world and its interrelationship with the physical world."
Steiner is credited as being the first to "bring the perspective of the farm as a single, self-sustaining organism that thrives through biodiversity." Steiner developed "a unique and comprehensive approach to soil, plant, animal and human health that recognizes the importance of the healthy interplay of cosmic and earthly influences. With this knowledge, he developed a set of homeopathic preparations…that help build up the farm's innate immune system and vital forces."

RSF's Investment Activities

From information on its website, it appears the focus of RSF's investment activities is providing capital to support "food initiatives."  RSF reports that many of the entities it funds are "biodynamic or sympathetic to BD, melding ethical and spiritual ideas with practical farming and sustainability goals."  RSF also explains on its website that "all of our philanthropic investment options are return agnostic" and "do not seek market-rate returns as a primary goal."

Consistent with its "mission aligned" investment approach, RSF announced in 2010 that "in response to the indirect, opaque, impersonal and volatile nature of the stock market, RSF divest[ed] from all public equities and redirect[ed] capital to investments more closely aligned with its values."  In 2011, in partnership with Leslie Christian of Portfolio 21 Investments, RSF published a white paper entitled, "A New Foundation for Portfolio Management" that RSF says "challenges traditional notions of portfolio theory and investment management."  Stating that its own investment approach is "grounded in the understanding that economic growth cannot be infinite on a planet with finite natural resources," RSF's white paper argues that "the possibility of long-term, continuous zero or negative economic growth precipitated by ecological limits warrants deeper consideration for long-term investment portfolios."  RSF's white paper concludes with the objective that RSF serve as an example for other investors who want to engage in "whole portfolio activation", where 100% of a portfolio is aligned with mission.  This mission includes "de-coupling from Wall Street as much as possible."

RSF's Investment in Cyanotech

In studying RSF's investment in Cyanotech, we note that (i) RSF became a shareholder in 2010, the same year it reported that it was divesting of all of its public company holdings and (ii) RSF executed, what for it was an extraordinary international privately-negotiated purchase of a 9.7% block of Cyanotech shares, taking RSF's holdings above 10% and requiring RSF to file the only 13G it has ever filed, in 2011, the same year it published its investment white paper describing its intention of "de-coupling from Wall Street as much as possible."

Given RSF's strong interest in agriculture, and in particular its desire to meld "ethical and spiritual ideas with practical farming and sustainability goals," Meridian believes that its participation, with Davis, in controlling Cyanotech, has become a part of RSF's goal to "transform society" by causing Cyanotech to operate consistent with RSF's spiritual science and growth-related philosophies.

(the above is taken from an October 18, 2016 Meridian SEC filing)

Related Content:
  • Critique of Anthroposophy as "an esoteric crypto-religious organisation based on a mystical and racist view of humanity and an astrological and clairvoyant view of understanding science. Anthroposophy is full of barmpot ideas, such as the literal existence of gnomes, that the British Isles floats on the sea.  Oh, and if you are good, you will be reincarnated as an Northern European Ayrian. Its adherents either don’t want to know this themselves and most definitely do not want you to know this." (Quackometer)
  • Analysis of RSF telling one story to the SEC concerning owning public shares and another story to its supporters and donors (Meridian filing with Securities and Exchange Commission).