Chamath Palihapitiya is one of the most prominent and successful venture capitalists in Silicon Valley.
You've likely heard that he was an original member of the Facebook management team before founding venture capital fund Social Capital.
You've also probably heard that, since 2011, he's been part of a group that owns the Golden State Warriors, winners of the NBA championship in 2015 and 2017.
But there's a lot more to Palihapitiya's life story than just these few facts.
In fact, here are 13 more surprising things you may not have known about Chamath Palihapitiya.
1. He Is a Refugee
Although wildly rich today, Palihapitiya was actually a refugee in childhood. According to Bloomberg:
"His family had come to Canada from Sri Lanka when he was 5; his father, Gamage, was an official with the Sri Lankan High Commission posted to Ottawa. In 1986, when it came time to go home, Gamage applied for refugee status. Chamath says his father had made enemies in Sri Lanka with his outspokenness about the needless violence on both sides during the civil war that was erupting there."
2. He Always Dreamed of Being Rich
Palihapitiya always wanted to rich. Even as a child, he obsessed over the Forbes' Billionaire List, according to Business Insider.
Now that he is rich? He wants to use wealth "as a bridge to a more meaningful, long-term, largely unrealistic goal that can keep you focused, grounded and helpful to others."
3. He Graduated from the University of Waterloo
Palihapitiya attended the University of Waterloo, graduating with a degree in electrical engineering.
He was actually in the same program as I was. That makes Palihapitiya one of just a handful billionaires to come from Waterloo (bonus fun fact: Waterloo has produced six graduates who founded billion-dollar startups). I'm hoping to accomplish the same as him one day!
4. He Was the Youngest VP in AOL's History
Remember the days when AOL Instant Messenger was still relevant?
Well, Palihapitiya was running the division in 2004. When he was just 27 years old. (He left AOL in 2005.)
5. Facebook's User Growth: 14x in 4 Years
When Palihapitiya joined Facebook in 2007, the social network had 50 million users.
By the time he left in 2011? It had 700 million users.
6. The 10 Things He Values in Employees
In a Medium post, Palihapitiya wrote about an email exchange he had with Zuckerberg about the types of employees they wanted at Facebook. The result was a list of 10 things he values:
- Very high IQ
- Strong sense of purpose
- Relentless focus on success
- Aggressive and competitive
- High quality bar bordering on perfectionism
- Likes changing and disrupting things
- New ideas on how to do things better
- High integrity
- Surrounds themselves with good people
- Cares about building real value (over perception)
7. His Advice for Noobs
In his farewell message to Facebook employees, he shared some advice:
"its easy to get distracted. everyone thinks we are much better than we actually are. be humble and honest about the fact that more is left to do than has already been done. keep moving quickly and don't get bogged down in the things that don't matter."
8. Social Capital Has Made 207 Investments So Far
His investment firm, Social Capital, has made 207 investments in 131 companies, according to CrunchBase. Their portfolio includes startups in consumer, education, enterprise, financial, and healthcare spaces.
9. He Loves to Pay it Forward
Palihapitiya told CNBC's "Squawk Box" that he tips at least 100 percent most of the time.
"Look, I got lucky, so I feel like I should just pay it forward," he said, adding that he loves seeing the joy on people's faces when they get such a generous tip.
10. He's Fascinated by Poker
According to Business Insider, Palihapitiya regularly hosted poker events at his home in Palo Alto with some big name players from Silicon Valley. He called poker a game that "you can learn so easily, but never master," and noted that playing poker almost mirrors running a startup.
He's also a competitive poker player. In 2011, he came in 101st in the 42nd World Series of Poker tournament.
11. 4 Important Questions He Asks Himself
On his 39th birthday (Sept. 3, 2015), Palihapitiya posted on Medium, sharing four questions he asks himself at the end of every week:
- How many days did I do the things above?
- How many days did I just give into the norm vs push back? Fight back...
- How many days was I happy? Like, really happy. Not fake, cosmetic happy.
- How many days did I give up what I really wanted because someone else's marginal validation tricked me from focusing on the bigger picture?
12. He's Big on Bitcoin
In 2013, Palihapitiya said he owned the equivalent of $5 million in Bitcoin - and wanted to own up to $15 million. While it's unclear if he's made that a reality, he's clearly still a big Bitcoin believer:
Reiterating my belief about $BTC. It's the ultimate insurance policy against autocracy, currency curbs and other forms of value destruction.-- Chamath Palihapitiya (@chamath) May 4, 2017
13. 3 Books He Tells New Graduates to Read
- "Liar's Poker" by Michael Lewis
- "The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King" by Michael Craig
- "Fermat's Enigma" by Simon Singh