Rich Dudes│Chamath Palihapitiya's Billion-Dollar Net Worth

Rich Dudes│Chamath Palihapitiya's Billion-Dollar Net Worth

Venture capitalist and former Facebook employee Chamath Palihapitiya has an estimated net worth of $1.2 billion which he's amassed by finding successful startups to invest in early on.

Rich Dudes│Chamath Palihapitiya's Billion-Dollar Net Worth
Moriah Costa

Updated Dec 29, 2022

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  • Chamath Palihapitiya’s net worth is an estimated $1.2 billion. The venture capitalist was a senior executive at Facebook before he left to run his VC fund Social Capital.
  • Palihapitiya has invested in several startups, including Slack, Virgin Galactic Holdings, and Sofi and his VC firm has a balance sheet of $6 billion.
  • Besides investing in startups, Palihapitiya also owns real estate, watches, and once had a 10% stake in the Golden State Warriors NBA team.

Chamath Palihapitiya is well-known for his philosophical ideas and Twitter rants. The tech billionaire of Silicon Valley speaks regularly about wealth inequality, social justice, and lack of diversity in STEM fields on the podcast he co-hosts, The All-In.

Rather than just using his wealth to become richer, he looks for ways to add value to other people’s lives.

Despite joining Facebook early on and helping it expand its user growth, he is against social media and has said it creates a society that confuses “truth and popularity.”

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With an estimated net worth of $1.2 billion, Chamath Palihapitiya has helped raised funds for several startups, including Slack, Virgin Galactic Holdings, and SoFi. He also once owned 10% of the Golden State Warriors, which he bought as a hedge while he got his venture capital (VC) fund Social Capital off the ground. 

Here's how the Sri Lankan-Canadian went from flipping burgers at Burger King to helping fund some of the biggest tech companies on Wall Street.

Chamath Palihapitiya net worth at a glance:

Net worth

$1.2 billion

Born

September 3, 1973

Became a millionaire in

2003

Occupations

Venture capitalist and CEO of Social Capital

Sources of wealth

Social Capital, SPACs

Asset classes

Startups, real estate, watches

How did Chamath Palihapitiya make his money

Chamath Palihapitiya was born in Sri Lanka on September 3, 1976. When he was six, his family moved to Canada, where his mom worked as a housekeeper. His family applied for refugee status on the grounds that his father, Gamage, had been criticized for his views during the Siri Lankan Civil War. Chamath Palihapitiya’s family was very poor, and he worked at Burger King from the age of 14 to help his parents.

Chamath Palihapitiya has an estimated net worth of $1.2 billion. 
Image source: wikimedia.org

He graduated with an engineering degree from the University of Waterloo in 1999 before moving to California to work at AOL. He became the youngest vice president of AOL as the head of its instant messaging division in 2004. Palihapitiya left AOL in 2005 to join venture capital firm Mayfield Fund, but joined Facebook a few years later. At Facebook, Chamath Palihapitiya was an early senior executive and worked on building the company’s user growth. He helped the social media network hit one billion users in 2009.

In 2011 Chamath Palihapitiya left Facebook to start his own venture capital company, Social Capital. But he was already investing in venture capital even before he started his own company. Some of his earliest investments include now publicly traded companies Pure Storage and Palantir, as well as Bumptop (which was acquired by Google) and Playdom (which was bought by Disney).

The venture capitalist was also an investor in the Golden State Warriors and at one point had a 10% share that he purchased for $25 million. He sold his last 2% stake in 2022, when the Warriors had a value of $5.6 billion, likely making him a decent profit.

Chamath Palihapitiya investment portfolio 2022

The majority of Chamath Palihapitiya’s investments are in startups. That’s mainly because he owns a venture capital firm, Social Capital, which invests in tech startups and provides them with seed funding, capital, and private equity. He’s also invested in several special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs).

Based on publicly available information, we estimate that Chamath Palihapitiya invests about 98% of his portfolio in venture capital, with 1.5% invested in real estate and less than 0.5% in luxury watches.

Social Capital venture capital fund

Even when he was still at Facebook, Chamath Palihapitiya invested in a few tech startups. Today, his company Social Capital has a $6 billion balance sheet and had a carrying value of $7.8 million in 2021. The company focuses on investing in tech startups at the early seed stage, as well as providing equity capital.

Additionally, they help companies go public using SPACs—a blank check company that uses capital raised through a public offering to buy a private company and turn it into a public company while bypassing the initial public offering (IPO) process. They have had 18 successful SPAC deals, including Virgin Galactic Holdings, SoFi, Clover Health, and Opendoor.

Some of the companies that Social Capital has invested in include a 10% stake in Slack, Box, Qenta, and many others. In total, the venture capital firm has invested in 426 companies, largely concentrated in healthcare, environmental protection, and education industries. The fund reported a decent return on investment of around 30% in 2020 and 2021.

Chamath Palihapitiya is the founder and CEO of venture capital firm Social Capital. 
Image source: TechCrunch

Chamath Palihapitiya owns 30% of Social Capital, which we estimate makes his stake worth well over a billion dollars. He also invests some of his own money into the deals that Social Capital makes, and has a personal stake in the SPAC deals. He’s recently sold a number of his SPAC shares, nearly doubling the $750 million he put in.

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Real estate

While Chamath Palihapitiya makes most of his money as a venture capitalist, he also invests in real estate and owns two homes.

His vacation home away from Silicon Valley is a Lake Tahoe property he bought for $1.6 million in Bitcoin in 2014. Bitcoin prices took off shortly after, which means he would've faired better had he paid in cash instead. As it stands, the property today is likely worth $6.9 million, given the increase in real estate over the last few years.


Chamath Palihapitiya also owns a home in Atherton, California. We don’t know how much he bought the home for (or if he even paid for it in cash), but given that the average value of homes in the area is $10 million to $30 million, it would be likely that his home is worth at least $15 to $20 million.

Chamath Palihapitiya paid $1.6 million in Bitcoin in 2014 for his Lake Tahoe property. 
Image source: elledecor.com

There’s a reason why rich people own a lot of homes. Besides the fact that they can afford to, real estate is a good long-term investment that's not historically correlated to the stock market. And with investing platforms like Elevate Money and EquityMultiple, you can earn passive income by investing in commercial real estate.

If you want to buy real estate with crypto, Lofty is the best place to start. You can invest in rental homes starting at $50 a share, all secured by the Algorand blockchain. The biggest perk of investing on Lofty is that you earn passive income with a daily dividend.

Watches

Like many other Rich Dudes, Chamath Palihapitiya is also a watch investor. His watch investments are on the smaller end of his portfolio and may be more of a collecting hobby than a proper investment asset.

From what he’s been spotted wearing, he has quite the collection. His Richard Mille ROMO35 is worth about $320,000, while his Audemars Piguet Royal Oak goes for $285,000. He also has an A Lange & Söhne, which is a steal compared to his other watches at just $40,000.

While some luxury watches cost as much as a house, that doesn’t mean the average investor can’t get them. With Rally, you can buy fractional shares of collectibles like luxury watches, fine art, and even wine. Investors can sell their shares through Rally's secondary marketplace, which works just like the stock market.

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Chamath Palihapitiya investment strategy

As a venture capitalist, Chamath Palihapitiya is always looking for the next big company to invest in. So far, he’s managed to invest in several startups early on, such as Slack and SoFi. His main goal is to find companies that are about to win and to invest in them before they gain mainstream popularity.

Chamath Palihapitiya held a 10% stake in the Golden State Warriors to hedge his other investments. 
Image source: socialcapital.com

Here are some of the principles that guide Palihapitiya’s investments.

1. Things that move fast will fall just as fast

When it comes to investing, you should look at things in the long-term. If a company or asset moves very fast all of a sudden, that’s a red flag. A lot of quick growth can lead to a lack of foresight. Just look at Sam Bankman Fried as an example of a fast-growing company gone wrong.

2. Invest in a solution to a problem

When looking to invest, Chamath Palihapitiya looks at things that have value. He wants to leave a legacy, and that means finding and investing in solutions to problems.

3. Invest in things that serve people

Chamath Palihapitiya often speaks about social justice and inequalities in life. He applies his personal values to his investing approach. Rather than just using his wealth to become richer, he looks for ways to add value to other people’s lives.

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