Fast Company


“You can fix capitalism,” says Social Capital cofounder and CEO Palihapitiya. He’s starting by overhauling the way his firm selects and develops startups.

Silicon Valley billionaire Chamath Palihapitiya, dressed in slim-fit ripped jeans and a caramel-smooth leather jacket, drops four pills out of a small ziplock bag: aspirin, cod liver oil, Lipitor, and vitamin D. The pills are his daily wellness cocktail, created in consultation with California’s very best doctors. But the doctors are not collaborators. Rather, they’re inputs in an A/B test of Palihapitiya’s design. He visits the doctors independently and then pits them against one another; when they disagree, the 41-year-old gets them on the phone to debate. With one gulp of water, he knocks back the full dose.

Palihapitiya, cofounder and CEO of venture capital firm Social Capital, has catapulted himself from a childhood on welfare to Gulfstream-level wealth by learning to take nothing for granted—especially not conventional wisdom or expert advice. Not coincidentally, he is also, colleagues and friends say, one of the most aggressively quantitative thinkers they have ever met. Palihapitiya made his first billion dollars by proving, as Facebook’s VP of growth during the pivotal years leading up to the IPO, that the social network could attract new users far faster than anyone else believed possible. Now, he’s refashioning his seven-year-old venture capital firm with similar ambition, intent on making his next set of billions by revolutionizing how Silicon Valley picks (and nurtures) winning ideas. If Social Capital can get its investing formula right, Palihapitiya envisions a system in which companies can deliver nothing less than peace and prosperity for all.

“None of us are going to fix governance; it may just be beyond repair,” he says as we zip north on U.S. 101 in his Tesla

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