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VC Chamath Palihapitiya Attempts to Shame Entrepreneurs Once Again

In an interview at TechCrunch Disrupt yesterday venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya said the tech world at large should be ashamed for being “at an absolute minimum in terms of things that are being started”. Venture capitalists telling founders they should feel badly about the work they pour every waking moment into isn’t exactly endearing, and several readers reached out anonymously to express their dismay at the hyperbole and hypocrisy of this statement. It turns out this blatant cry for attention might not be good for deal flow either.

My Take: Palihapitiya’s perceived dearth of high quality startups should hardly be taken as an indictment of the broader tech sector, and is more likely a reflection founder’s hesitation to work with him following the Airbnb email debacle.

This is not the first time Palihapitiya has attempted to publicly shame founders. In a leaked email from October 2011 (allegedly forwarded by an assistant, later denied) he railed against Brian Chesky’s decision to give founders the option to take money off the table, but not offering employees the same deal. While the intent to get liquidity for early employees is commendable, the tone of the message and the fact that it was leaked publicly amounted to a public shaming and undermining of Airbnb’s CEO. Certainly not the kind of behavior founders should expect or tolerate from investors in general, and in their own company (in Airbnb’s case) at all.

According to Crunchbase, AngelList and other publicly available investment data he has yet to make a new co-investment in the same round with Andreessen Horowitz, who lead the round with Airbnb, or any Y Combinator companies (of which Airbnb is an alum). While no investor would ever share who ends up on their “blacklist”, it will be interesting to see if this pattern continues to hold up over time.

Actions, Not Words

When an investor calls out the industry for a lack of quality, the natural reaction is to look to his portfolio for the diamonds in the rough he has discovered. I was surprised to learn that Palihapitiya was one of largest investors in tragically mismanaged startup Ecomom, where his wife Brigette Lau served on the Board of Directors.

But perhaps the rest of the portfolio of his allegedly $275M fund (regulatory filings have not yet be updated to reflect the actual amount closed) has fared better. Let’s take a look at his personal investments and Social + Capital portfolio and, assuming his current investments were excluded from his sweeping derision of tech startups, get a sense of which companies made the cut:

Photo Credit: TechCrunch

© Mattermark 2024. Sources: Mattermark Research, Crunchbase, AngelList.