A Silicon Valley billionaire and Democrat mega-donor is getting a whole lot of unwanted attention after a clip of a podcast he co-hosts went viral for all the wrong reasons.
Chamath Palihapitiya, 45, is living the American dream.
When he was a child, his family left Sri Lanka claiming refugee status in Canada where he was raised. He received a Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Waterloo, which is ranked 23rd globally for electrical engineering, ahead of Princeton, MIT, and U.C. Berkley.
From those humble beginnings, he managed to amass a fortune and is now a co-owner of the Golden State Warriors.
Palihapitiya is a venture capitalist, CEO of Social Capital, co-owner of the Golden State Warriors, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson’s spaceflight company headquartered in California.
He also donates heavily to Democrats.
The Washington Free Beacon reports that Palihapitiya has “deep ties to the Biden administration.” He had donated $250,000 in 2020 to the Biden Victory Fund, and two members of Biden’s administration, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Agency for International Development administrator Samantha Power, served as advisors on Palihapitiya’s venture capital firm, Social Capital.
Palihapitiya also co-hosts the “All-In” podcast with his three friends, Jason Calacanis, David Sacks, and David Friedberg, where they “cover all things economic, tech, political, social & poker.”
It was during the Saturday episode of the podcast after a discussion about Biden’s plummeting poll numbers and the sudden floating of Hillary as a 2024 candidate. Co-host Jason Calacanis praised Biden for his China policy and specifically mentioned Biden’s statement on Uyghurs lamenting that it didn’t get enough media attention. At that point, which is about 15-minutes into the podcast, Palihapitiya told Calacanis — who appears to be the most overtly bleeding-heart leftwinger in the group — that “nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs.”
That’s the moment that is grabbing headlines all over the country.
A venture capitalist whose fund’s mission is ‘to advance humanity by solving the world’s hardest problems’ has said he doesn’t care about the human rights abuses facing China’s Uyghur population.
Chamath Palihapitiya, who is worth $1.2billion and owns a minority stake in the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, worked at Facebook before his departure in 2011 to set up his venture capital fund, Social Capital, which made $1.7billion in 2019.
But the 45 year-old Sri Lankan-born billionaire is now coming under fire for stating bluntly how he does not care how China’s Uyghur Muslims have been abused.
PALIHAPITIYA: Nobody cares about it, nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs, okay? You bring it up because you really care and I think that’s nice that you care, — the rest of us don’t care. I’m just telling you a very hard, ugly truth, okay? Of all the things that I care about, yes, it is below my line. Okay, of all the things that I care about it is below my line.
Here is the 22-second clip heard ’round the world:
Palihapitiya tweeted out a brief apology that he is now being lambasted for. He wrote, “In re-listening to this week’s podcast, I recognize that I come across as lacking empathy. I acknowledge that entirely. As a refugee, my family fled a country with its own set of human rights issues so this is something that is very much a part of my lived experience. To be clear, my belief is that human rights matter, whether in China, the United States, or elsewhere. Full Stop.”
Important issues deserve nuanced discussions. Some clarifying comments: pic.twitter.com/St2jccsu05
— Chamath Palihapitiya (@chamath) January 18, 2022
The short clip cuts off before he really got going.
If you listen a bit longer, you can hear him ramp up his argument as the discussion continues. Cohost David Sacks — who appears to be less left-leaning than Palihapitiya or Calacanis — softens the response by saying that people care about issues that are more presently affecting them like empty grocery store shelves. Palihapitiya agrees and says, “sure, that I care about.” He then expanded on what does concern him.
‘…I care about the fact that our economy could turn on a dime if China invades Taiwan. I care about climate change. I care about America’s decrepit healthcare infrastructure, but if you’re asking me if I care about a segment of a class of people in another country, not until we can take care of ourselves will I prioritize them.
‘I think a lot of people believe that and I’m sorry if that’s a hard truth to hear but every time I say that I’m caring about the Uyghurs I’m really just lying if I don’t really care, so I’d rather not lie to you and tell you the truth. It’s not a priority for me.’
But Palihapitiya wasn’t finished as he continued with his rant: ‘Until we actually clean up our own house, the idea that we step outside of our borders with us sort of like morally virtue signaling about somebody else’s human rights track record is deplorable,’ Palihapitiya said.
‘Human rights in the US is way more important to me than human rights anywhere else on the globe,’ said Palihapitiya, who was born in Sri Lanka, adding that he felt a responsibility to fix the issues of his adopted country.
Source: Daily Mail
He went on to tell Calacanis that being concerned about human rights around the world is a “luxury belief” because he thinks that America should “clean house” with their treatment of black and brown men in prisons, as just one example, before lecturing other countries about their human rights.
It’s quite something for someone whose family fled Sri Lanka as refugees.
China has been horrific with human rights against the Uyghurs as well as the Falun Gong, and we’ve known it for a long time. Back in 2012, a note from someone in a Chinese labor camp begging for help was found in a box of Halloween decorations bought at Kmart. Since then, we’ve learned about mass imprisonment, forced conversion, forced marriage, rape, torture, and other horrific abuses of Uyghur Muslims in China.
Even further into the podcast, Palihapitiya says he’s not sure that China’s a dictatorship and questions whether the reports of human rights abuses are accurate.
“I’m not even sure that China is a dictatorship,” Palihapitiya said later in the podcast of the country, whose ruling party recently elevated its premier, Xi Jinping, to a level of power previously held by Mao Zedong. “There are a set of checks and balances here on China that, you know, at the end of the day, I don’t think that I have the moral absolutism to judge China.” Palihapitiya argued throughout the podcast that, because the U.S. incarcerates Black and brown men at a higher rate than any other developed country in the world, judging another country for its alleged human-rights violations is an act of hypocrisy. “If you want to talk about the human rights of people, I think we have a responsibility to take care of our own backyard first,” he said.
Source: The Intelligencer
In the above article from New York Magazine, author Kevin Dugan notes that Palipapitiya blasted his fellow venture capitalists in 2017 as a bunch of “well-intentioned, soulless cowards.” The article also notes that he has close financial ties with China.
While he couched his statement as a kind of truth-telling and has tried to redirect the conversation to gray areas, one thing he hasn’t discussed is that his own fortunes are tied directly to China. In 2017, after Palihapitiya’s venture firm Social Capital lost a key investor to a rival, he later turned to a partnership with British investor Ian Osborne, who has made significant investments into some of China’s biggest companies, including Jack Ma’s Alibaba and Ant Financial, according to the Financial Times. And although Palihapitiya claimed recently to have nothing invested in China, companies he has invested in have other plans. ProKidney, which announced a merger with one of Palihapitiya’s shell companies on Tuesday morning, “intends to expand to the European Union and additional markets, including China,” according to a securities filing. And MP Materials, a rare-earth mineral miner that Palihapitiya owns a stake in, is part-owned by and does business directly with the Chinese smelter Shenghe Resources, even though it claims to wean the tech industry from dependence on China.
NBA star Enes Kanter Freedom, who has been a lone voice in the league calling out the human rights abuses of the Uyghurs tweeted out the video to his followers with the caption, “When @NBA says we stand for justice, don’t forget there are those who sell their soul for money & business like @chamath the owner of @warriors, who says “Nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs” When genocides happen, it is people like this that let it happen. Shame!”
When @NBA says we stand for justice, don’t forget there are those who sell their soul for money & business like @chamath the owner of @warriors,
who says “Nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs”
When genocides happen, it is people
like this that let it happen
— Enes Kanter FREEDOM (@EnesFreedom) January 17, 2022
After Palihapitiya’s comments, some of his other comments were being dug up.
Check out this clip from October.
Imagine a world where the cultivation & operation of critical resources were pointed towards creating an even starting line for everyone.
— Social Capital (@socialcapital) October 6, 2021
The backlash continues on for Paliphaitiya — including in his own backyard.
On Tuesday, Virgin Galactic distanced themselves from their own chairman.
Palihapitiya’s firm, Social Capital, took Virgin Galactic public via a SPAC deal in 2019. Palihapitiya sold his personal stake in Virgin Galactic for $213 million last March, but he remains listed as chairman.
A Virgin Galactic spokesperson told The Post that the company “believes every human being is entitled to fundamental human rights.”
“Chamath Palihapitiya’s comments do not reflect the views of Virgin Galactic and he does not speak on behalf of the company,” the spokesperson said.
Source: New York Post
The White House and the Golden State Warriors also distanced themselves from Palihapitiya.
A White House spokeswoman told the Washington Free Beacon the Biden administration rejects Palihapitiya’s statement. “The Biden Administration rejects this statement and will continue to hold the PRC accountable,” the spokeswoman said, pointing to Biden’s support for the bipartisan Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act and other measures to “ensure all global supply chains are free from the use of forced labor.”
The Warriors also worked to distance themselves from Palihapitiya, referring to him as a “limited investor who has no day-to-day operating functions with the Warriors.”
“Mr. Palihapitiya does not speak on behalf of our franchise, and his views certainly don’t reflect those of our organization,” the team said in a statement.
Source: Washington Free Beacon
The full episode of the “All-In” podcast with the nearly hour-long discussion about China and human rights can be watched here: