Chamath Palihapitiya is a venture capitalist who has made enormous wealth through his venture capital investment firm, Social Capital of which he is founder and CEO. He was an executive at popular social media network Facebook during its early years. The businessman is well known in Silicon Valley circles as a shrewd investor and entrepreneur. Palihapitiya regularly appears as a guest on business and technology related television shows to give his expert opinion on topical issues within the technology and investment space.
Chamath Palihapitiya – Bio
Chamath Palihapitiya was born on the 3rd of September 1976 in Sri Lanka. His family relocated to Canada about the time he was six years of age. According to his accounts of his childhood, the Palihapitiya family had it tough financially, he recalled that his father went without a job most of the time and his mother worked as a cleaning lady and housekeeper. Due to these financial challenges, the family had to live on welfare. Palihapitiya did his secondary schooling at Lisgar Collegiate Institute in Ontario and worked part-time while schooling in order to provide support for his family.
Palihapitiya was admitted into the University of Waterloo to study for a degree in Electrical Engineering. He graduated in 1999 and was thereafter hired by BMO Nesbitt Burns, an investment bank, to fill the role of a derivatives trader. He remained with the bank for just a year and left for the United States to join his girlfriend in California. Upon getting to the US, he landed a job with AOL. This marked a significant point in his career as he was appointed the vice president and head of AOL’s instant messaging group, making him the company’s youngest ever vice president. He later got employed by Mayfield Fund.
Chamath Palihapitiya ended up spending no more than a few months at Mayfield Fund as he soon joined Facebook where he led the team charged with growing the user base of the platform. At the time Palihapitiya joined Facebook, the company was less than two years old. He has publicly talked about his admiration for Facebook founder and his former boss Mark Zuckerberg, praising Zuckerberg’s objective decision-making style and down to earth demeanour.
While at Facebook, Palihapitiya was an angel investor to a host of startups that turned out to be very profitable investments, some of these were Playdom which was eventually bought by The Walt Disney Company, Pure Storage, Bumptop – which was bought by Google, Palantir, among others. He resigned from his Facebook job in 2011 and went on to launch his own venture fund, The Social Capital Partnership which was later renamed Social Capital.
Some of Chamath Palihapitiya’s investments through Social Capital include stakes in Yammer, Slack, Glooko, and SecondMarket. Some high-profile investors such as PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel are among investors in Social Capital venture fund.
Palihapitiya is an avid poker player and has placed high in a few tournaments. As a social and political commentator, he has criticized Silicon Valley leaders for ignoring diversity in their approach in hiring people and investing in companies. He has also decried the use of algorithms and social engineering by the social media companies, chiefly Facebook, to keep people hooked to their platforms as unethical.
In 2018, a number of staff including co-founders of Social Capital left the firm due to disagreements with Palihapitiya’s data-driven approach to investing in companies. Without blinking, he has hired several others to replace those that left.
Chamath Palihapitiya has an estimated net worth of $1.2 billion. The larger percentage of his net worth comes from exercising his Facebook stock options which were quite sizable. He has also been very successful as an investor due to several liquidity events his portfolio companies have had, such as acquisitions and initial public offers (IPOs).
Family – Does He Have A Wife Or Girlfriend?
Chamath Palihapitiya was married to Brigette Lau until 2018 when he filed for divorce. He had moved from Canada to join her in California while she was his girlfriend and they both started the venture capital fund, Social Capital together. They share three children.
After the divorce, reports surfaced that Palihapitiya is in a romantic relationship with a certain corporate executive in Europe.