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Silicon Valley's Homogeneous 'Rich Douchebags' Won't Win Forever, Says Investor Chamath Palihapitiya

"Startups copy what good companies do because they think it contributes to success. ... If you’re going to copy, copy the really important stuff like a diverse workforce."

Vjeran Pavic for Re/code

A company worth hundreds of billions of dollars has appeared every six years over the past four decades, investor Chamath Palihapitiya says — and he thinks the next one will look different and think differently than its predecessors.

Appearing on the latest episode of Re/code Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, Palihapitiya explained why he’s trying to use the firm he founded, Social Capital, to bet on companies with world-changing ambitions. To back up investments in companies like Syapse, which aims to increase the speed and reduce the cost of cancer treatment, he has also invested in more conventional tech companies such as Slack and Box that he believes also represent modern, progressive values.

“In all this technological upheaval, there’s going to be massive wealth created,” Palihapitiya said. “It’s going to get allocated to somebody. Better people with a moral imperative, who have a sense of equality and a sense of social justice, than a bunch of rich douchebags who are already rich.”

Currently wealthy individuals, to put it more mildly, are not going to hold on to power forever and neither are their investors, he argued. Some younger startups and funders that will take their place will think about the world in different and more open-minded ways, and Palihapitiya suspects that when one of those takes off, imitators will follow.

“Startups copy what good companies do because they think it contributes to success,” Palihapitiya said. “The Kind Bars don’t do shit. If you’re going to copy, copy the really important stuff like a diverse workforce.”

Vjeran Pavic for Re/code

He also discussed at length with Kara how he came to be an investor, by way of Winamp, AOL Instant Messenger and Facebook.

“I was a curmudgeon,” he said of Facebook’s corporate culture in the early days. “I would see an Audi in the parking lot, take pictures of it and email everybody saying, ‘This is exactly what’s going to fucking destroy us.'”

“Says the man who has a sports team,” Kara replied.

“You know, things change.”

Listen to or download the episode in the audio player above, or click here to subscribe to Re/code Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher on iTunes; you can also find Re/code Decode on TuneIn, Stitcher and Clammr.

Kara will be back next Monday with another great guest. On Thursday, don’t miss Re/code Media with Peter Kafka, our newest podcast. This week, Peter talks to Nate Silver, the founder of FiveThirtyEight. Click here to subscribe to Re/code Media on iTunes.

You would normally hear Kara this Friday on Too Embarrassed to Ask, her podcast with Lauren Goode of The Verge, but this week we’ll have a special episode with Lauren and Re/code co-founder Walt Mossberg. Click here to subscribe to Too Embarrassed to Ask on iTunes right now. And you should also check out Re/code Replay, an archive of audio content from our events and interviews by Kara Swisher, Walt Mossberg, Peter Kafka, Ina Fried and more. To subscribe to that, click right here.

You can follow @Recode on Twitter for the latest on upcoming guests.

If you like what we’re doing, please write a review on iTunes — and if you don’t, just tweet-strafe Kara. You can also suggest guests for the show on Twitter, and we’ll do our best to nab them for a Red Chair interview.

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