Benzinga readers and investors might know Chamath Palihapitiya best as the “SPAC King” and for his role in the SPAC boom of 2020. Here is more on Palihapitiya and some lesser known facts readers may not know.
About Palihapitiya: Born in Sri Lanka, Palihapitiya emigrated to Canada at the age of six.
Palihapitiya launched Social Capital Hedosophia with Ian Osborne to use the alternative path to traditional IPOs to bring innovative tech companies to the public market. Palihapiya has plans to bring companies public using SPACs named alphabetically from IPOA to IPOZ. Six of the first SPACs have launched, with three closed and one with a pending merger.
“My ambition is to be our generation’s Berkshire Hathaway. It’ll be a Berkshire, a holding company that, instead of holding Gillette and Coca-Cola and McDonald’s, will hold technology businesses,” Palihapitiya told Fortune.
Palihapitiya is the chairman of Virgin Galactic Holdings (NYSE: SPCE), and brought Opendoor Technologies (NASDAQ: OPEN) public with IPOB and Clover Health (NASDAQ: CLOV) with IPOC. Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings Corp V (NYSE: IPOE) announced a merger with SoFi last week.
Social Media Pioneer: Prior to launching Social Capital, Palihapitiya was the most tenured original senior management team member of Facebook. While at Facebook, Palihapitiya held roles helping with mobile and international growth, and had the role of vice president of user growth before departing. While at Facebook, Palihapitiya helped the company grow its user base from 50 million to 700 million.
Palihapitiya has been critical of Facebook in recent years and sold all of his stock in 2014. At a Benzinga Boot Camp event, Palihapitiya said Facebook should have gone public earlier, as it could have helped an earlier transition to mobile.
Before joining Facebook, Palihapitiya worked at AOL and was responsible for ICQ and AOL Instant Messenger. Palihapitiya was the youngest vice president in AOL history at the age of 26.
Big Fan of Poker: The SPAC King is a big fan of poker and has even competed in several World Series of Poker events.
Palihapitiya took part in the 2011 main No-Limit Hold’em WSOP event where he placed 101st and won $54,851. In three World Series of Poker events, Palihapitiya has earned $138,701.
The investor has also been known to host poker games at his home featuring friends and well-known Silicon Valley investors like David Sacks and Jason Calacanis.
Phil Hellmuth, the all-time leading WSOP bracelet holder with 15, has also taken place in the poker games with Palihapitiya. Hellmuth has earned over $15 million in World Series of Poker competitions.
Palihapitiya hosts the All-In podcast, named for his love of poker, with Sacks, Calacanis and David Friedberg.
Believer in Amazon, Tesla and Bitcoin: Three of the most popular and best performing assets of the last couple years get the seal of approval from Palihapitiya and have more room tor grow.
Palihapitiya invested in Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA) in 2016. Over the years, Palihapitiya has discussed that cars are “only the first wave of growth” for the company. Tesla could become the largest company in the world, according to Palihapitiya.
In 2012, Palihapitiya started investing in Bitcoin, buying over $1 million worth off of a friend’s recommendation. The investor no longer holds any Bitcoin but is investing in companies that own Bitcoin as its easier to manage shares instead of coins or wallets, according to Palihapitiya.
Bitcoin could go to 200,000 in the next five or 10 years, Palihapitiya said in a recent CNBC interview.
Amazon Inc (NASDAQ: AMZN) could be worth $3 trillion by 2025, Palihapitiya said in 2016.
“You get behind these people who have (an) incredibly smart character, who know what they’re doing, who aren’t going to bend to short-term profits and are just going to drive the train for 10 to 20 years and make the world a better place,” Palihapitiya said of Tesla’s Elon Musk and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.
Fascinated in Wealth Early, Now Pays It Forward: Palihapitiya was fascinated by the Forbes billionaires list at a young age and dreamed of becoming rich one day.
Palihapitiya now uses his wealth as a bridge to help others. The investor is known to tip 100% at restaurants as a way of paying it forward and seeing the joy in others from this simple gesture.
NBA Owner: In 2011, Palihapitiya became a minority investor in the NBA’s Golden State Warriors. He is currently a board member for the team that won the NBA championship in 2015, 2017 and 2018.
The Warriors are ranked the third most valuable NBA franchise by Forbes. The value of the team has risen from $363 million in 2011 to $4.3 billion in 2020.
Disclosure: Author is long DM, IPOD.
Photo credit: Cmichel67 via Wikimedia
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