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As she worked to untangle her knots, she did a lot of searching. She was an editor for a literary humor magazine called Opium. She tried to write a novel. (She’s still trying. “It’s about 1,400 pages with 24 major characters and 30 plot lines.”) She went to Peru to experience ayahuasca, the vomit-inducing hallucinogenic tea. Another time, she found herself at a nudist colony. In 2015, she started a book imprint called Catapult. “Cries for Help, Various” was its first title. (This month, Catapult shut down its online magazine and writing program to “ensure a successful future” for its core book business.)
Ms. Koch also dabbled in film finance, serving as an executive producer for “Beasts of No Nation,” starring Idris Elba, and “Harriet,” which was nominated for two Oscars.
I found her easygoing and upbeat. She laughed when I asked how much money she had inherited. (I pressed, and, Mr. Rowe, seated nearby, piped up with “no comment.”) One minute Ms. Koch was serious, talking about criminal justice reform, which is a focus of her father’s philanthropy, and the next she was frivolous, telling me about a design studio in Scotland that sells fancy wallpaper.
There was one exception to Ms. Koch’s sunny, let-it-all-hang-out demeanor: when I tried to dig into her relationship with her father, whom she calls Pop, and asked what direct role he might have played in her feeling “never good enough” from such a young age. During one of our conversations, she spoke about him pushing her to join the track team in the fourth grade and personally coaching her for a couple of years. “No matter where we went on vacation, he was getting me up at 5 a.m. to run,” she said. In the winter, sometimes while it was snowing, “he would be driving beside me in the car, and, like, usually playing some economics tape, trying to get me to learn while I was running.”
Were his expectations too high?
“There is no blame there,” she responded, with some steel in her voice. “I was just confused, and I was putting things together in a really distorted way. And then I had so much shame about it that I couldn’t talk about it.”
Mr. Koch said in an email, “When the kids were young, I pushed them to work hard and be the best them they could be. That’s the job of a parent — to help their children realize their full potential and live a life of meaning.”
No stranger to division
It is possible that Ms. Koch will turn Unlikely Collaborators and her Perception Box credo into a success. “This isn’t a three-to-five-year plan,” said Mr. Goren, the financial and operations chief. “She has a multi-decade vision.”