The King Of SPACs Wants You To Know He’s The Next Warren Buffett


Chamath Palihapitiya estimates his wealth at someplace between $10 billion and $15 billion

Chamath Palihapitiya has already drafted the subsequent chapter in his charmed-life story.

The immigrant child who bootstrapped his means into riches at Facebook Inc., made billions as a risk-hungry investor and have become the pied piper of the present blank-check craze now envisions himself as nothing lower than the Warren Buffett of the Reddit period.

“Nobody’s going to listen to Buffett,” Palihapitiya, the founding father of Social Capital, mentioned in a Bloomberg “Front Row” interview. “But there has to be other folks that take that mantle, take the baton and do it as well to this younger generation in the language they understand.”

The language, after all, is social media. That’s the place the 44-year-old billionaire talks up his offers, trolls the institution and hypes “all things Chamath.” Recently, he stoked hypothesis he would possibly run for governor of California. Occasionally, he tweets out shirtless selfies to his 1.three million followers. His feed is a digital stream of consciousness.

With Twitter as his bullhorn, Palihapitiya has turn out to be the undisputed king of special-purpose acquisition corporations, the most popular factor on Wall Street. Together with Ian Osborne, a public-relations soothsayer turned financier, he has sponsored six SPACs, raised a complete of $4.34 billion and purchased companies in house journey, medical health insurance, monetary providers and actual property.

Lightning Rod

Along the best way, Palihapitiya has made a fortune for himself and his buyers, and helped whip up a frenzy that has everybody from Colin Kaepernick to former House Speaker Paul Ryan racing to market their very own SPACs. He’s additionally a lightning rod for skeptics who pooh-pooh his success because the product of relentless self-promotion and see blank-check corporations as proof of a bubble inflated by huge authorities money-printing.

If SPACs are emblematic of a speculative mania, then Palihapitiya is the face of that second.


Palihapitiya mentioned something that common will lure its share of copycats and wannabes, and inevitably many will fail. He’s assured his model and investing acumen won’t solely make individuals wealthy, however assist democratize finance and degree the taking part in subject for extraordinary buyers.

Plus, there’s that entire Buffett factor. He fancies rising his empire right into a Berkshire Hathaway-esque conglomerate for the 21st century, full with investor convention calls, an analyst day and its personal must-attend annual assembly. All of which, in his imaginative and prescient, will generate sufficient wealth to shrink the inequality hole in America.

It’s fairly grandiose stuff.

“I do want to have a Berkshire-like instrument that is all things, you know, not to sound egotistical, but all things Chamath, all things Social Capital,” he mentioned.

It was additionally Palihapitiya who took a number one function within the frenzy round so-called meme shares, tweeting on Jan. 26 that he’d purchased GameStop Corp. name choices and serving to gas its short-lived surge. He exited the commerce earlier than GameStop crashed, making a $500,000 revenue he donated to charity.

Palihapitiya then joined Reddit’s WallStreetBets crowd in bashing short-sellers and denounced Robinhood Markets, which quickly restricted purchases of meme shares, as a “bunch of corporatist scumbags.”

He acknowledges such rhetoric is not precisely Buffett-like. But then once more, maybe that is the purpose.

“Who I am is a byproduct of my generation and my media culture, which is faceted — not always great facets, but multifaceted,” he mentioned. “You have to speak in the language of the times in order to get your point across.”


Palihapitiya’s bro-ish method — cocksure and filled with swagger — is not for everybody. It’s arguably what triggered his venture-capital agency to implode in 2018. But his SPACs have delivered outcomes, at the least to date.

The first SPAC he raised with Osborne merged with Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic in 2019 and now trades at $59, up from the usual providing value of $10. His 5 others are also nicely above $10, together with the 2 that have not introduced acquisitions but — a testomony to buyers’ confidence and likewise to the central-bank largess that has inflated threat property globally.


Critics contend SPACs are flawed and harmful, with incentives that overwhelmingly favor sponsors and insiders on the expense of particular person buyers. Palihapitiya says he is working with Credit Suisse Group AG on methods to cut back share allocations to hedge funds and to permit retail cash to take part in so-called PIPE financings.

“On the deals that I do I take a 20% carry, and I think that I can find targets and find opportunities that will make that more than reasonable in the final analysis,” he mentioned, including that in each considered one of his SPACs, he has invested hundreds of thousands of {dollars} of his personal cash. The solely cause he mentioned he’ll ever promote any shares is to launch money for different endeavors.

Rise, Fall and Rise

In Silicon Valley, the place his rise was meteoric and in the end turbulent, everybody is aware of who “Chamath” is. It’s getting that means in monetary circles, too. Not fairly a “Jamie” or “Ray,” however on his means there.

Born in Sri Lanka, Palihapitiya emigrated to Ottawa as a boy. He labored part-time at Burger King to assist his mother and father make ends meet. After getting a level in electrical engineering from the University of Waterloo and buying and selling derivatives for a 12 months, he moved to California.

At Facebook, his obligations included the nascent cell enterprise and worldwide markets. He left in 2011 to discovered Social Capital and took early stakes in Slack and SurveyMonkey. Palihapitiya additionally purchased a part of the Golden State Warriors basketball staff in 2011, Bitcoin in 2012, Inc. shares in 2014 and Tesla Inc.’s convertible debt in 2015.

And then all of it appeared to collapse. His marriage dissolved, his key companions in Social Capital left and a number of other buyers balked at committing new funds. Many thought Palihapitiya had flamed out.

Three years later, he is larger than ever.

Palihapitiya estimates his wealth at someplace between $10 billion and $15 billion, rather more than public disclosures would counsel. Most of that — the insurance coverage, software program and health-care companies he owns privately, his SPACs, the brand new seeding program he began for newbie cash managers — will turn out to be a part of the holding firm he is modeling on Berkshire.

One of Palihapitiya’s slogans is that solely two issues matter: inequality and local weather change. He mentioned investing in options for each is his mission at Social Capital. That’s why he is additionally making a “huge bet” on securing vital provides for lithium-ion batteries so the U.S. is not at China’s mercy in its efforts to faucet inexperienced vitality. He expects the trouble to price billions.

His populist enchantment has gained Palihapitiya hundreds of thousands of followers. Recently, it lent credibility to the rumor he deliberate to run for governor. While Palihapitiya is upset about all the things from taxes to crime charges in California and is funding the #RecallGavinNewsom effort, he insists he has no intention of searching for workplace.

Instead, he mentioned he’ll again candidates who share his centrist beliefs and ultimately plans to spend “hundreds of millions a year” constructing a machine that may rival the conservative affect of the Koch and Mercer households.

In the meantime, Palihapitiya says he has no plans to “cut and run” like the opposite billionaires fleeing his state, together with Tesla’s Elon Musk and Oracle Corp.’s Larry Ellison. His technique: be loyal, keep on model, conceal nothing.

“I make better decisions when I am authentic and transparent,” he mentioned. “The best way to do that is just to be living my life out for everybody to see.”

–With help from Crystal Tse.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV employees and is printed from a syndicated feed.)


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