Oct 27, 2022 - Economy

Introducing Chamath 2.0

Chamath Palihapitiya talks to Dan Primack

Chamath Palihapitiya at BFD. Photo: Beatrice Moritz

Chamath Palihapitiya is reinventing himself as a chastened elder statesman of the tech community.

Why it matters: It’s an A+ illustration of how humbling these times are for Silicon Valley.

Between the lines: Chamath made his name as a boastful meme lord, leading a crowd of retail investor apes into SPACs and crypto. Now he's wearing a dark suit, talking about risk-adjusted returns and intellectual rigor, and remorsefully saying that he was blinded by zero interest rates.

"I have evolved as a human being," Chamath told Axios' Dan Primack at the BFD conference in New York Wednesday. "I've become a better, calmer, more focused person."

  • "Silicon Valley desperately needs reasonably decent brand ambassadors," said Chamath, who as recently as last year was tweeting things like "Im about to really [f@#$] some shit up."

Know thyself: "There are professional serious people there that understand how to interface in the rest of the world, and I think that that is part of my responsibility now," claims Chamath.

  • Flashback: In December 2020 he tweeted that "when $BTC gets to $150K, I will buy The Hamptons and convert it to sleepaway camps for kids."

The big picture: "I sort of blame Jay Powell," said Chamath, for slashing interest rates to zero and allowing him to reap the benefits of a broad speculative fervor.

  • "The biggest thing that I learned was how much of my early success was probably not attributable to myself."
  • "We have actually had a massive tailwind because we had a zero interest rate environment that allowed us to raise unbelievable amounts of money."
  • "What it allowed us to do is crowd into companies. Many of those companies had unbelievable valuations. Eventually, these unprofitable businesses went public. Only now are we starting to sort out what are good and what are not-so-good businesses."

The bottom line: Chamath is painting his excesses as being very much in the past. "That dog doesn't hunt when you're 46," he said.

  • Fact-check: Elon Musk is 51.

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