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The Chamath Palihapitiya Experience

September 12, 2013

Former Facebook exec, and now investor, Chamath Palihapitiya was interviewed in Marin County at a lunch that I joined. The questions were wide-open ranging from what makes you mad to whose better Zuckerberg or Sandberg?
One of his most interesting perspectives is that outside of his tech investments, he is investing in hospitality and entertainment. Why? Because his experience with Facebook has focussed his attention on what he sees as a rising value in photogenic experiences. Young people get more value out of showing their friends their trip pictures. They would rather spend money on those experiences than say a new car. So Palihapitiya has invested in the NBA Golden State Warriors as well as restaurants.

It was also interesting to hear that he has cashed out of Facebook stock and has put that money into Google stock. More conservative for sure. But then he says he’s a big backer of Bitcoin.

He is one of the few leaders in technology who stand by the NSA. He thinks their work is awesome. He comes at it from a point of realism.  I believe it’s fair to summarize his point that Russia, China and hackers are hacking.  As US citizens, our taxes are paying for the NSA to help us to make decisions, don’t we want them to be good and aggressive? Don’t delude yourself to think that you have privacy.
Palihapitiya has a strong personality but there were a couple of traits that stand-out as what seems like trends among technologists:
– Cussing. Palihapitiya swears a lot. I don’t know him but it feels affected. Other technologists like Dave McClure are fond of cursing. Why do they do it? Who knows but I expect it’s because it makes them come across as rebels and authoritative. “I don’t care what people think about me cause I think for myself and I’m right.” Personally, I don’t have an issue with cussing except that now that I am a father I know that my kids will search me on Youtube and I don’t want them to hear me cussing. I also know it offends people and if there’s no good reason to offend its better not to.

– Obsession with intelligence. Palihapitiya talks a lot about finding the smartest people on on the planet and how they will displace phonies from ivy league colleges. He obviously makes a good point that intelligence matters. What he doesn’t caveat is that luck, timing, and hard work are maybe more important than intelligence. Airbnb and Uber are billion dollar companies but did they require genius and the smartest people on the planet to develop? Of course not.

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