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10 Things You Didn't Know about Chamath Palihapitiya

Chamath Palipapitiya

Most people know Chamath Palihapitiya as an original member of the management team at Facebook. If you are familiar with the venture capital world, you have a clue about Mr. Chamath Palihapitiya. The public knows him as the CEO and founder of Social Capital. You may have also heard that since 2011, Chamath Palihapitiya has been a part of a group that owns the Golden State Warriors, the team that won the NBA championship in 2015 and 2017. However, there are many other things you probably did not know about him, including the following ten.

1. His early life was not affluent

Chamath Palihapitiya was born on 3rd September 1976, in Sri Lanka. At the age of 6, his family moved to Canada as refugees. His mother was a housekeeper but later became a nurse’s aide while his father was constantly unemployed. He recalls spending cold nights on a mattress in a small living room. When the time came to return to their motherland Sri Lanka, Chamath’s father applied for a refugee visa. When he was 14, his family lived on welfare, forcing him to work at Burger King. While working part-time to support his family, he attended Lisgar Collegiate Institute and graduated at 17. In 1999, he graduated from the University of Waterloo with a degree in electrical engineering.

2. He dreamt of being rich.

Chamath always dreamt of becoming rich. He always wanted to be on the Forbes Billionaire list. Now that he made it on the billionaire list, he aspires to use his wealth as the bridge to a meaningful and long-term goal that can keep other investors grounded, focused and helpful to others.

3. The Mayfield venture

Chamath Palihapitiya worked as the principal of one of the oldest venture firms, the Mayfield firm. On the sand hill road, he seemed confident from outside for a lasting career. Chamath was close to only two of his partners but felt dislocated with the rest. From the past few years, he has been investing through the Embarcadero ventures fund.

4. How he established the Social Capital firm

The activist investor Chamath Palihapitiya collected around $300 million to start his Social Capital partnership. He began his venture capitalist career at 26 years. He has invested a substantial amount of almost $60 million in the fund’s capital, which translates to 20 percent of its total capital. Apart from his investment in the company, his contribution to selecting the investors was precisely a wise move. He picked Adam D’Angelo, the founder of “quora,” Joe Hewitt, the creator of Firefox web browser, the Social network news site Digg founder Kevin Rose, and the hedge fund manager that is under Tiger Global Management Charles Coleman.

5. His relation to Facebook

You might have heard that Chamath Palihapitiya is associated with Facebook. For 4 years, he had served as a senior executive when Facebook was transforming into a global platform. He is the longest-serving senior executive of Facebook to date. He led both it's mobile and international user growth initiatives, with its growth graph getting 14x times higher.

6. How Palihapitiya became the AOL’s IM Group leader

When AOL was letting go of most of its employees to save money, Chamath Palihapitiya was the cheapest employee who was not affected. His salary was not much, but he continued to work for the company since he was desperate at that point. In addition, an electrical engineering degree was more potent than a computer science degree. He had gone through thorough training on having a vigorous mind.

7. He is an ardent poker player

Chamath Palihapitiya is a renowned poker player who took part in the (WSOP) World Series of Poker three times and two times in (WPT) World Poker Tour where he won a whopping $175,801. In the 42nd (WSOP) World Series of Poker tournament in 2011, he came in 101st. As per the Business Insider, Chamath Palihapitiya hosts one of the most popular Silicon Valley events at his residence in Palo Alto. Some big-name players, including David Sacks, founder of Hammer, Phil Hellmuth from (WSOP), and Jason Calacanis of, attend the event. The principal goal of hosting the game at his residence is to find 9 to 10 of the most competitive poker players in Silicon Valley.

8. He values ten things most in employees

According to his post on Medium Chamath wrote about an email exchange with the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg about the employees they need at Facebook. He listed ten things he valued most in an employee, which included:

  • High integrity
  • High IQ
  • A powerful sense of purpose
  • Aggressive and competitive
  • Enjoys changing and disrupting things
  • An open-minded person with fresh ideas on how to better things
  • Focused on success
  • Associates themselves with positive-minded people
  • Focuses on building value
  • High-quality bar bordering on perfectionism

When leaving Facebook, he left a farewell message to the company’s employees, stating, “Getting distracted is easy. Most people think we are better than we are. Humble yourself and be honest about the fact that there is more left to do than it has been done. Move quickly always and avoid getting bogged down by things that matter less.”

9. He believes in Bitcoin

In 2013, Chamath Palihapitiya claimed that he owned 100,000 bitcoins valued at $5 million. He feels that every investor should have a minimum of at least 1 percent of their worth invested in bitcoins. In an interview with CNBC, Warren Buffet claimed that the largest cryptocurrency in the world offers nothing apart from buyers interested in making more money by selling it to willing buyers. Palihapitiya reported that Warren was among his mentors, but he was wrong about bitcoin. He added that he sees cryptocurrency replacing gold in the market in the years to come.

10. His net worth and the investments social capital has made so far

From a report at CrunchBase, Palihapitiya’s firm, Social Capital, has 207 investments across 131 companies. The firm’s portfolio consists of startups in education, finance, healthcare, and other enterprises. A managing partner of any venture capital firm can part with a yearly payout of between $1 million to $5 million-plus bonuses. However, Chamath has been awarding himself a salary of $350,000 with no bonuses. With his hard work, serving as an electrical engineer in various companies, and as a venture capitalist working in his firm, financial experts estimate that he has a net worth of around $1.2 billion.

Allen Lee

Written by Allen Lee

Allen Lee is a Toronto-based freelance writer who studied business in school but has since turned to other pursuits. He spends more time than is perhaps wise with his eyes fixed on a screen either reading history books, keeping up with international news, or playing the latest releases on the Steam platform, which serve as the subject matter for much of his writing output. Currently, Lee is practicing the smidgen of Chinese that he picked up while visiting the Chinese mainland in hopes of someday being able to read certain historical texts in their original language.

Read more posts by Allen Lee

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