35-year-old, Sri Lankan-born Chamath Palihapitiya has a glittering Silicon Valley résumé.
Chamath is the founder of new $275 million venture fund The Social+Capital Partnership which focuses on investments in the technology, healthcare, education, and financial sectors.
Before that he was the executive responsible for Facebook Platform, vacating his most recent role as VP of User Growth, Mobile and International Expansion at Facebook in June 2011.
Chamath joined Facebook from venture capital firm The Mayfield Fund where he was focused on consumer Internet, advertising and technology investments.
Prior to Mayfield, Chamath spent five years with AOL, most recently as the Vice President and General Manager of AIM and ICQ, where he oversaw two of the most popular instant messaging businesses on the Internet.
What most people don't know is that Chamath grew up in Canada, graduated first class honors in electrical engineering from the University of Waterloo, and credits our welfare state for a big chunk of his success.
Chamath is the son of a Sri Lankan High Commission official posted in Ottawa that applied for refugee status when is was time to return to his homeland. Chamath's family got public assistance checks, the provincial government funded the summer internship that was his first job, and his father’s considerable medical care has been mostly free (he still lives in Canada and is suffering from kidney failure).
Yesterday Bloomberg BusinessWeek profiled Chamath in an article titled Social+Capital, the League of Extraordinarily Rich Gentlemen. In the well-written piece by Drake Bennett, Chamath sums up his experience straddling the 49th parallel with a single quote.
“If we were in the United States we’d have been bankrupt. Canada would never have given me the opportunity that America gave me, but America could not have given me the social safety net when I was growing up.”