Billionaire venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya is under fire for comments he made on a podcast dismissing human rights abuses against Uyghurs in China.
What happened: Asked about human rights abuses of Uyghurs and members of other Muslim minorities in China, including forced labor and mass detention, Palihapitiya said he focused more on issues such as disruptions supply chain, climate change and the potential economic impact of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.
“Let’s be honest, nobody, nobody cares what happens to the Uyghurs, okay? Palihapitiya said.
The comments in question came during a 90-minute episode of the “All In” podcast.
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The Warriors respond: After the episode, the NBA’s Golden State Warriors released a statement in response to team co-owner Palihapitiya.
“As a limited investor who does not have day-to-day operational duties with the Warriors, Mr. Palihapitiya does not speak on behalf of our franchise, and his views certainly do not reflect those of our organization,” said the The warriors said.
Additionally, Palihapitiya also released his own follow-up tweet addressing the blowback of his initial comments.
“Re-listening to this week’s podcast, I acknowledge that I feel like I lack empathy. I fully acknowledge that. As refugees, my family fled a country with its own human rights issues , so that’s something that’s a very big part of my lived experience. To be clear, I believe that human rights matter, whether it’s in China or the United States or anywhere else. Period,” did he declare.
Chamath vs. Buffet : Palihapitiya earned the moniker “King of SPACs” during the boom in special-purpose acquisition listings in 2020 and 2021, but many of his SPACs have performed poorly over the past year.
Palihapitiya proclaimed himself a famous figurehead of the Reddit era of stock trading during a “Front Row” interview in February 2021 and said that the younger generation of investors have little interest in Wall stalwarts. Street like Buffett.
“Nobody is going to listen to Buffett,” Palihapitiya said. “But there have to be other people who take that mantle, take over and also do it to this younger generation in the language that they understand.”
Since the publication of this interview, the four SPAC mergers of Palihapitiya-–Clover Health Investments Corp. (NASDAQ: CLOV), Opendoor Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: OPEN), SoFi Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: SOFI) and Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. (NYSE: SPCE) – are down an average of 67.9%. Buffetts Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE: BRK-A) (NYSE: BRK-B) rose 32% over the same period.
Benzinga’s opinion: There is no doubt that Palihapitiya’s comments on the situation in China did not land as he hoped, but he insisted that human rights are important to him in his clarifying statement. Unfortunately for its SPAC investors, things have gone from bad to worse so far in 2022, with all four stocks down more than 19% in January alone.
Photo: Courtesy of Christopher Michel on Flickr
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