Billionaire venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya is under fire for comments he made on a podcast dismissing human rights abuses against the Uyghurs in China.
What Happened: When asked about human rights abuses of the Uyghurs and members of other Muslim minorities in China, including forced labor and mass detention, Palihapitiya said he is more focused on issues like supply chain disruptions, climate change and the potential economic impact of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.
"Let’s be honest, nobody, nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs, okay? You bring it up because you really care. And I think that’s really nice that you care but...the rest of us don’t care," Palihapitiya said.
The comments in question came during a 90-minute episode of the "All In" podcast.
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Warriors Respond: Following the episode, the NBA's Golden State Warriors issued a statement in response to Palihapitiya, who is a co-owner of the team.
"As a limited investor who has no day-to-day operation 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 Warriors said.
In addition, Palihapitiya also posted his own follow-up tweet addressing the blowback from his initial comments.
"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," he said.
Chamath Vs. Buffett: Palihapitiya earned the nickname the "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 famously proclaimed himself the figurehead of the Reddit era of stock trading during a "Front Row" interview in February 2021 and said the younger generation of investors has little interest in Wall Street mainstays like Buffett.
“Nobody’s going to listen to Buffett,” Palihapitiya said. “But there has to be other folks that take that mantle, take the baton and do it as well to this younger generation in the language they understand.”
Since that interview was published, Palihapitiya's four Social Capital SPAC mergers-–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%. Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE: BRK-A) (NYSE: BRK-B) is up 32% during the same period.
Benzinga's Take: There's no question Palihapitiya's comments on the situation in China didn't land the way he hoped they would, but he insisted human rights are important to him in his clarifying statement. Unfortunately for his SPAC investors, things have gone from bad to worse so far in 2022, with all four stocks down more than 19% in the month of January alone.
Photo: Courtesy of Christopher Michel on Flickr