Chamath Palihapitiya

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Chamath Palihapitiya
Chamath Palihapitiya 2016 Dialog.jpg
Palihapitiya in 2016
Born (1976-09-03) September 3, 1976 (age 40)
Sri Lanka
Alma mater University of Waterloo
Known for Software development, venture capital

Chamath Palihapitiya is a venture capitalist. Palihapitiya was born in Sri Lanka, raised in Canada, and has worked for much of his life in Silicon Valley. Palihaptiya is an owner and board member of the Golden State Warriors.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Early life[edit]

Palihapitiya was born in Sri Lanka, and moved with his family to Canada at the age of six. After graduating, in 1999, from the University of Waterloo with a degree in electrical engineering, he worked for a year as a derivatives trader at the investment bank BMO Nesbitt Burns. In 2000, Palihapitiya moved to California with his girlfriend.[2]

Career as a software engineer and manager[edit]

Palihapitiya joined AOL and rose through the ranks to become the head of AOL's instant messaging division in 2004.[2] In 2005, he left AOL and joined Mayfield Fund. However, he left the job after a few months and joined Facebook, which at the time was a little more than a year old.[2] Palihapitiya's work at Facebook involved trying to increase Facebook's userbase.[3]

Palihapitiya claims to have joined Facebook with a contempt for people who merely write code, but his experience at Facebook led him to revise his beliefs.[4] One of the things Palihapitiya admired about Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's principal founder and CEO, was Zuckerberg's lack of ego and his ability to avoid letting personal ego get in the way of business decisions.[4]

Career as a venture capitalist[edit]

Palihapitiya started off making investments on the side while still employed at Facebook, including investments in Palantir, Pure Storage (NYSE:PSTG), Playdom (bought by The Walt Disney Company), and Bumptop (bought by Google).

In 2011, he had enough money to quit his job at Facebook and start his own fund called The Social+Capital Partnership. The firm changed its name to Social Capital in 2015.[2][5][6] The firm has stood out strategically, with a focus on technology in healthcare, financial services and education, and on software as a service. Social Capital started investing in health and education when those fields were being largely neglected by other venture capitalists.[7]

The fund was praised by Peter Thiel, who invested in it and expressed enthusiasm for Palihapitiya's approach.[3]

Palihapitiya has invested (through the fund) in a number of companies since then, including Glooko, Inc, Yammer, SecondMarket, Slack, Box, and Premise.[7][8][9]

In March 2013, Palihapitiya confirmed that his venture fund had raised over $275 million in its second round of fundraising.[10][11] As of 2015, the fund has more than $1.1 billion in total assets.[12]

In October 2015, Palihapitiya and Social Capital worked with the technology industry publication The Information to publish a report on the state of diversity in venture capital. The study found that 92% of senior investment teams at top-tier venture firms are male and 78% are white.[13] Based on this report, Palihapitiya wrote an op-ed piece that called for a “wake up call” among venture capital firms that would “recapture our potential and open doors” in order to “surround ourselves with a more diverse set of experiences and…prioritize a diverse set of things.”[14]


Immigration reform and policy advocacy[edit]

Palihapitiya was listed as one of the "Founders" of the lobbying group[15] The group launched on April 11, 2013, and its goals include immigration reform, improving education, and enabling technological innovation, all in a United States context.[16][17] An article in The New Republic stated that Palihapitiya received a weekly report about and also quoted him as saying, in response to controversy around' political lobbying strategy: "The folks that are actually people that run that day to day are sophisticated and understand the nuances of how to affect it... It's a really gnarly, gnarly thing having to deal with Washington. And to be honest with you, my perspective was, it's a really good investment because it's a good way to pay it forward, and I'm really glad there are other people other than me who are dealing with it who have the patience and resolve to figure it out."[18]

Views on government[edit]

In a live interview, Palihapitiya said that the U.S. government is "completely useless." He added, "If the government shuts down, nothing happens and we all move on, because it just doesn't matter. Stasis in the government is actually good for all of us. It means they can neither do anything semi-useful nor anything really stupid." Kevin Roose of New York Magazine wrote about the interview, "...a certain strain of influential Silicon Valley thought has moved past passive political apathy and into a kind of anarchist cheerleading. Dysfunction and shutdowns are good, this line of thinking goes, because it hamstrings Washington's ability to mess with the private sector's profit-making schemes. And as long as the Bay Area is still churning out successful start-ups, what does it matter if hundreds of thousands of government workers are furloughed, essential services are cut off for low-income Americans, and the threat of a sovereign default endangers the entire economy?"[1]

San Francisco inequality and housing controversy[edit]

At Bloomberg's Next Big Thing conference in Sausalito, California, a city in Marin County just north of San Francisco, Palihapitiya made remarks critical of San Francisco's business-friendly mayor Ed Lee and proposed that the city provide subsidized housing to low-income residents funded by an equity tax on startups, with the tax-and-subsidy schemes potentially being restricted to particular zones within the city. This led to a heated debate between Palihapitiya and super angel Ron Conway. Conway, a supporter of Ed Lee, defended the city's policies, argued that things would get better for all residents, and noted that Palihapitiya himself lived in Palo Alto rather than in the city.[19][20] In a later clarification to TechCrunch, Palihapitiya outlined his vision in more detail and described how his views on inequality and social mobility were shaped by his experience growing up to relatively poor immigrant parents in Canada.[21]

Poker Accomplishments[edit]

Palihapitiya has 3 WSOP and 2 WPT cashes for a total of $175,801.[22] In 2011, he finished 101st out of 6,865 entries in the World Series of Poker’s Main Event.[23]


  1. ^ a b Roose, Kevin (October 16, 2013) "The Government Shutdown Has Revealed Silicon Valley’s Dysfunction Fetish." New York Magazine. (Retrieved 5-14-2014.)
  2. ^ a b c d Rusli, Evelyn (2011-10-06). "In Flip-Flops and Jeans, An Unconventional Venture Capitalist". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-04-23. 
  3. ^ a b Bennett, Drake (2012-07-26). "Social+Capital, the League of Extraordinarily Rich Gentlemen". Retrieved 2013-04-23. 
  4. ^ a b Thomas, Owen (2013-03-04). "'Zuckerberg Is A Good CEO On His Way To Being A Great CEO'". Business Insider. Retrieved 2013-04-23. 
  5. ^ "The Social+Capital Partnership". Retrieved 2013-04-23. 
  6. ^ Arrington, Michael (2011-06-03). "Facebook VP Chamath Palihapitiya Forms New Venture Fund, The Social+Capital Partnership". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2013-04-23. 
  7. ^ a b Rao, Leena (2011-09-27). "Former Facebook VP Chamath Palihapitiya Leads $17M Round In Enterprise Social Networking Platform Yammer". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2013-04-23. 
  8. ^ Billings, Mike (2015-03-17). "The Daily Startup: Paper Drawing App Aims for Enterprise With New Funding". Wall Street Journal Blog. Retrieved 2015-04-22. 
  9. ^ Marshall, Matt (2011-11-02). "SecondMarket raises $15M at $200M valuation from former Facebook exec". VentureBeat. Retrieved 2013-04-23. 
  10. ^ Ha, Anthony (2013-03-04). "Chamath Palihapitiya Confirms That His Social+Capital Partnership Has Raised A New Fund Of $275M+". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2013-04-23. 
  11. ^ Grant, Rebecca (2013-03-04). "Making money and a difference, Social+Capital Partnership confirms new fund". VentureBeat. Retrieved 2013-04-23. 
  12. ^ Rao, Leena (2016-03-23). "Is Social+Capital's Chamath Palihapitiya the future of venture capital?". FORTUNE. Retrieved 2016-02-23. 
  13. ^ Schulz, Peter (2016-03-23). "Introducing The Information’s Future List". The Information. Retrieved 2016-02-23. 
  14. ^ Palihapitiya, Chamath (2016-03-23). "IBros Funding Bros: What’s Wrong with Venture Capital". The Information. Retrieved 2016-02-23. 
  15. ^ "Our Supporters". Retrieved 2013-04-23. 
  16. ^ "About Us". Retrieved 2013-04-23. 
  17. ^ Zuckerberg, Mark (2013-04-11). "Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg: Immigration and the knowledge economy". Washington Post. Retrieved 2013-04-17. 
  18. ^ DePillis, Lydia (2013-05-06). "Mark Zuckerberg’s Cynical, Necessary Washington Strategy". The New Republic. Retrieved 2013-05-07. 
  19. ^ Oremus, Will (June 9, 2014). "Tech Conference Turns Into Shouting Match About Inequality in Silicon Valley". Slate. Retrieved July 9, 2015. 
  20. ^ Garofoli, Joe (June 9, 2014). "Ron Conway mocks fellow venture capitalist, uses phrase ‘Palo Alto resident’ as insult". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved July 9, 2015. 
  21. ^ Buhr, Sarah (June 9, 2014). "Ron Conway And Chamath Palihapitiya Debate SF Housing And Google At Next Big Thing Conference". TechCrunch. Retrieved July 9, 2015. 
  22. ^ "Chamath Palihapitiya: Cash Out ". Retrieved 22 Feb 2016. 
  23. ^ "'42nd World Series of Poker (WSOP) 2011 United States". Retrieved 22 Feb 2016. 

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