It has been depicted as a new David-and-Goliath tale for Wall Street: a tiny hedge fund called Engine No. 1 went up against the mightiest oil company in the U.S. and won three seats on its board, with a mandate to prepare it for a future free of fossil fuel.

With just 22 employees and $240 million worth of assets under management, according to a recent filing, Engine No 1’s letter to the Exxon Mobil board on December 7 — its activist declaration — hardly induced terror at the oil major’s Texas headquarters.

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