NXIVM — pronounced like “nexium” — is a self-help multi-level marketing company in Albany, New York. A self-help guru named Keith Raniere, and a former psychiatric nurse and consultant named Nancy Salzman, founded the business in 1998.
Over the next twenty years, some 16,000 people enrolled in courses through NXIVM, which describes itself as “a community guided by humanitarian principles that seek to empower people and answer important questions about what it means to be human.”
Most people enrolled in NXIVM through its Executive Success Programs (ESP), a series of workshops designed to “actualize human potential” that cost up to $7,500.
Founder Keith Raniere was born in 1960 in Brooklyn. He graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York in 1982. The second founder, Nancy Salzman, was born in 1954 in Newark, New Jersey, and later obtained a nursing license.
Raniere’s website describes him as a “the conceptual founder of NXIVM” as well as a prolific inventor and writer. Salzman’s website touts her “thirty years of intensive study and practice in the fields of healthcare, human potential and human empowerment” and her “incredible wealth of knowledge, wisdom and experience.”
Forbes named several members in a 2003 report, including businesswoman Sheila Johnson and the daughter of former Mexican President Vicente Fox. Others who reportedly attended ESP sessions include Dynasty star Linda Evans and Virgin founder Richard Branson, according to Macleans.
Seagram’s liquor heirs Clare and Sara Bronfman lost more than $100 million investing in the organization, according to Vanity Fair.