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At the age of 46, Chamath Palihapitiya has already built for himself the type of career that most people can only dream of.
After moving with his family to Canada at the age of five, he attended the esteemed Lisgar Collegiate Institute. Upon graduation, he attended the University of Waterloo where he earned his degree in Electrical Engineering. He worked for a year as a derivatives trader with a well-known investment bank, at which point he took a job at a then scarcely-known company called Winamp and moved to California.
Flash forward to today and Chamath Palihapitiya is a highly successful venture capitalist. He is the founder and current CEO of Social Capital. He was an early senior executive at Facebook. He started his own fund, dubbed The Social+Capital Partnership (which eventually changed its name to Social Capital). He's also the co-host of the noted tech podcast "All In," which is where many people probably know him from.
It wasn't always an easy road to get to where he is today, but for Chamath Palihapitiya it was a road that he was more than willing to travel down. Indeed, his story of perseverance and eventual success is inspiring in more ways than one.
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Chamath Palihapitiya: The Story So Far
"Most of us are not born with the deck stacked in our favor, in all kinds of ways," said Chamath Palihapitiya. Looking back at the journey he's taken to get to where he is today, that seems to be a prevailing theme throughout his life and career.
Not long after joining the team at Winamp, the company was quickly acquired by AOL. Suddenly, Palihapitiya found himself in the position of being the company's youngest vice president ever. He began to lead the instant messaging division starting in 2004, just when such technology was taking off in homes and on college campuses around the country.
After a brief stint at the Mayfield Fund, he joined the team at Facebook in 2007 when it had only been in existence for a little more than three years. He left the company in 2011, which is when he started what would become Social Capital. This gave him an opportunity to invest in a wide range of different companies that interested him and that he believed in, including but not limited to ones like Yammer and Slack. By 2015, Social Capital had more than $1.1 billion in total assets.
Throughout this time, he has made an effort to continue not only investments but philanthropy as well. He has regularly donated to the University of Waterloo, for example, giving that institution more than $25 million to be used to empower the engineering department in 2018. A few years later in 2021, he donated $7 million in an effort to get drinking water to 1,000 families living through the terrible water shortages taking place in central California.
One of the major assets that Palihapitiya has always had along this journey is his unique voice - something that he has put to good use in more ways than one. By being such a prominent figure in both technology and the world of venture capital, it should come as no surprise that he has regularly delivered speeches at many notable events across the globe. He's also been interviewed by leading publications like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. His comments are always as candid as they are fresh, regularly making it a point to challenge what many perceive to be conventional wisdom. Above all else, he wants to offer new ideas and fresh perspectives on not only what is currently going on in the technology industry, but the impact it is having on the world around us as well.
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This is especially evident in the success of the "All In" podcast - one that is regularly covered in the press and that consistently hits the top of the charts on Apple Podcasts, among other sources. With his co-hosts Calacanis, Sacks, and Friedberg, Palihapitiya discusses hot-button technology topics of the day like whether" AI is truly poised to be the "next great computing platform," an impending CRE debt bubble, the possibility of a "great reset" in the world of venture capital that may be on the horizon, and more.
"I was raised in a house where my mom was the primary breadwinner," said Palihapitiya. "It was a dysfunctional house, but she showed tremendous resilience." All it takes is one look at the career - not to mention the life - that Chamath Palihapitiya has built for himself over the years to see just what a meaningful impact those early years truly made on him.
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