‘Don’t chase big payouts, choose moral and ethical clarity instead’

By Jit Kumar
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Chamath Palihapitiya

Canadian-American venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya speaks to graduates of his alma mater Waterloo about building a sustainable world

In an incredibly complicated world that’s defined by completely different worldviews, one should never forget that social equality is the much-needed foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. That was Chamath Palihapitiya’s message for the Waterloo Engineering graduates of 2020.

The Canadian-American venture capitalist, an alumnus of Waterloo, urged the young graduates not to get distracted by chasing big payouts, but to have a level of moral and ethical clarity that is completely different from the generations above them.

“The most important thing is to never change that it is easy as you get older, as you get better jobs, as you make more money to become a sellout… it’s easy to become part of a system that reinforces prejudice or a systemic bias than it is to fix it but the way that you fix it is that you stay true to who you are and you never forget all the things that you lived through and the frankly the beliefs that you have about equality that exists in the world or that should exist,” Chamath said in his YouTube address.

According to the founder and CEO of Social Capital, a Silicon Valley company that specialises in technology startups, the world is at a crossroads, and that crossroads is really about an entire generation of people who need to frankly make their way and step aside for the youths.

“We’re living at a point in time where there is so much that needs to get built, so many things that need to get invented, so many problems that need to get solved and they don’t happen frankly without your leadership”

“What we really have at this point in time is an incredibly complicated world… if you ask your friends what it means to have a friend who’s a person of colour or minority or black, you wouldn’t think anything of it, gay you wouldn’t think anything of it,” he said.

“If you ask somebody in their 40s, most people wouldn’t think anything of it, but if you ask somebody in their 70s and 80s all of a sudden people have something to say. It doesn’t make them bad people, but it does make you incredibly important in this moment in time if societies are to thrive, they require us to transition power and opportunity from the old to the young. That’s how we’ve survived as a human race, that’s how the world has progressed,” he said.

“So, we’re in a moment right now that is so complicated that the only way it gets figured out is because people like you take the helm and so you should have a level of moral and ethical clarity that is completely different from the generations above you. We’re living at a point in time where there is so much that needs to get built, so many things that need to get invented, so many problems that need to get solved and they don’t happen frankly without your leadership,” Chamath said.

He was also optimistic about the role of young people in shaping the world. “The number of young people is just so enormous, the way that you think, the beliefs that you have, time is now you to basically take over. The social environment may seem confounding and confusing to us, but pendulum swings towards justice and the pendulum swings towards young people and you guys represent the best of what society can be right now.”


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