Who is Chamath Palihapitiya?
Chamath Palihapitiya is the Founder and CEO of Social Capital, which provides funds to technology startups and private equity. Born in Sri Lanks but raised in Canada, he has worked in Silicon Valley for a long time. He has been described as an individual who genuinely wants to make an impact on the world, by Dave Goldberg, Former Yahoo Executive and CEO of SurveyMonkey. Chamath’s firm has been described as a strategically magnificent one due to its primary focus on financial services, healthcare and education and providing software as a service. He has invested in a number of online ventures and small companies. Personally, he prefers quality to wealth, Chamath feels that the mentality and aim of people today is to establish star-ups with the sole purpose of earning big bucks and this attitude has ruined the industry and the quality of services.
Childhood & Early Life
Chamath Palihapitiya was born on September 3, 1975 in Sri Lanka. His family migrated to Canada when he was just six.
In 1999, he graduated with a degree in electrical engineering from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.
Following his graduation, Chamath worked at an investment bank ‘BMO Nesbitt Burns’ as a trader. After working there for a year, he moved to California in 2000.
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Chamath began to work at AOL and became Vice President and General Manager of AIM and ICQ at AOL in 2004.
In 2005, he left his position at AOL to work at Facebook. His job initially aimed at increasing the user base of Facebook.
He was a member of Facebook’s Senior Management Team and played a major role in the expansion and technological development of Facebook.
Prior to Facebook, he had worked in prominent positions in Mayfield Fund, Winamp, and Spinner.com.
While working at Facebook, Chamath started investing in small companies including Palantir, Pure Storage, Playdom, which was bought by the Walt Disney Company and Bumtop which was later bought by Google.
In 2011, he quit his job at Facebook to start his own fund venture ‘The Social+Capital Partnership’.
The company started out as a strategic investment fund, investing in ventures that no major companies would fund; mainly focusing on healthcare and education.
Chamath’s approach was appreciated by many due to its innovative application. Since then, he has invested in a number of major companies including Yammer, which was bought by Microsoft and Imperium, which was bought by Google.
In 2015, the name of the company was changed to Social Capital.
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He is also the co-owner of Golden State Warriors LLC, an NBA team.
Chamath is one of the founders of FWD.us, a lobbying group established in 2013 that deals with improving education and immigration reforms.
During his tenure at Facebook, the user base increased from 50 million to 700 million.
In several interviews, he has openly criticized the lack of diversity in the venture capital business. He wrote a piece on the need to accept diversity in capital firms and the importance of diverse experiences to broaden one’s vision.
In 2015, Chamath’s firm, Social Capital, raised an amount of 500 million dollars in their capital fund venture.
He has spoken against the U.S. Government calling it out as completely useless. This led many people to criticize him and question the purpose of private business ventures altogether.
He has also spoken on Gender gap in various sectors and has publicly criticized Apple CEO Tim Cook.
Chamath has spent most of his working life in the Silicon Valley and has often expressed his displeasure at the rising number of young and inexperienced entrepreneurs. According to him, the investors should be more sophisticated in order to put the potential of the youth to a good purpose.
He also proposed that the city of San Francisco provide its low-income residents with subsidized housing.
Chamath Palihapitiya is currently married to Brigette Lau.
Having lived in Sri Lanka, Canada, and the U.S. he attributes his outlook equally to his upbringing in all the three countries.
Chamath is a very family-oriented person and loves spending time with his family and friends.
He is an avid blogger and has written several articles, both technical and personal, for ‘A Medium Corporation’.
Chamath was caught up in a controversial debate with Ron Conway with respect to his strong views on the decision of San Francisco’s mayor, Ed Lee, to provide houses at a subsidized rate to the Americans in the below-average income group.
As of April, 2017, the current net worth of Chamath Palihapitiya is close to 1 billion dollars.
Chamath adheres to the principle that one’s core beliefs should always be strong to the point of extremes. According to him, this makes it easier to weather hard times and value the good ones as well!