Billionaire Chamath Palihapitiya’s run for California’s governor position is off the table


When the news of Sri Lankan American billionaire Chamath Palihapitiya about replacing Californian Gov. Gavin Newsom came to the limelight, it started trending on social media with many looking forward to it.

However, that might not be in the cards for Palihapitiya, at least for now. In the latest episode of his podcast ‘All In’, he clearly said that he is not really ready to take up the responsibility of the governor position just as yet.

“Let’s be really honest. I’m not ready to do any of that,” said the 44-year-old on Wednesday, January 3.

“What I need to do is, I need to figure out (A) my business and where it’s going and (B) I do think it’s worth figuring out what are the conflict-of-interest laws and what do you have to do if all of this were to come to pass,” Palihapitiya said.

With that comment, the tech investor stopped the speculation of running for governor.

During the podcast, he also added that he was mostly focused on a battery project and wouldn’t want to shut it down or retire to be able to run.

In recent weeks, Palihapitiya had fueled speculation of running for office amid attempts to oust the current Gavin Newsom government. He even shared one campaign website made by a supporter, which seemed to indicate a tendency to run.

It was even discussed that he donated $100,000 to the GOP-led committee backing Newsom’s recall. The strange part: Palihapitiya typically favors Democrats, having donated $1.3 million to party candidates over the past decade. Well, except for $7,500 that he gave to Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in 2011.

For a time, Palihapitiya appeared to be the 2021 incarnation of a species that regularly pops up in California politics: rich people who think they can be politicians, even if they have zero experience holding office.

Donnie Fowler, a longtime Democratic strategist said, “It’s just this sense that I’m smart and I’ve succeeded at tech — whether by hitting a lottery ticket at Facebook or building my own company — so surely I can succeed at politics, something that is seen as dirty and messy and inefficient.”

Fowler is has worked for the past two decades to link Silicon Valley and the political world.

“But it doesn’t work, in the same way that I wouldn’t hire a former NFL player and expect him to be a James Beard Award-winning chef,” said Fowler, who also teaches at the University of San Francisco.

In his website,, Palihapitiya had mentioned some of his policy proposals, which were too good to be true for the real world and inapplicable in most cases.

One of them: “0% state income tax. We can cut taxes to 0% from 16% and drive growth which will increase the state’s revenue from $150B to $300B.”

It’s definitely a winning idea. But the website did not present any explanation on how that would be accomplished.

Another overhyped idea was “$70,000 teacher salary. Our most valuable resource is education. Teachers deserve a minimum of $70k to educate our future.” This too did not have any valid explanation on how it would be done.

“It reflects a complete lack of knowledge of how policy is made,” said Jo-Ellen Pozner, a professor of management at the Santa Clara University School of Business, right in the middle of Silicon Valley. “And how policy decisions affect each other.”

Still, Palihapitiya has a compelling personal history. The native Sri Lankan moved to Canada with his parents when he was a boy. He worked his way through school, earning an engineering degree, before moving to the U.S. in his 20s. He became a billionaire when he was 32.

Political and Silicon Valley insiders debated whether the attempt was legitimate or tongue-in-cheek, and Palihapitiya ignored multiple requests for an interview.

Despite skepticism about his seriousness, recall elections notoriously create openings for wealthy or charismatic outsiders like former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.