What to make of Chamath Palihapitiya's hire by Facebook? Immediately before joining the red-hot social network, he worked as a venture capitalist for the Mayfield Fund. And last February, he attracted controversy for his comments about the privileged society of Silicon Valley in an art film, Living Pictures/Men in Gold." Palihapitiya, who's
Indian Sri Lankan, spoke of his intention to break through the old boys' club. But in going from a venture capital firm to Facebook, it would seem he's just going from the old boys' club to the new boys' club.
Here's how the San Francisco Chronicle summarized his comments — and how Mayfield spun them after the fact:
But Mayfield Fund venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya said that despite his success in Silicon Valley, he still sees a white male circle of insiders that he can't penetrate, with exclusive dinner parties and country clubs that he isn't part of.Predictably, Mayfield, Palihapitiya's employer at the time, claimed that his comments were taken out of context and that Palihapitiya believed that Sand Hill Road was a "meritocracy."
Whatever. Palihapitiya's departure from the world of venture capital, not five months after the brouhaha erupted, by itself suggests that all is not meritocratic at Mayfield. But if he thinks he's leaving a world of privilege for a league of scrappy strivers, he's sorely mistaken. At Facebook, after all, he's going to be working for Mark Zuckerberg, a graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy and Harvard College who grew up in Westchester County.