Opportunity and education are important points for both of you. How do they affect the way you approach your work with Social Capital?
Chamath: I’m an absolute statistical anomaly. My parents escaped a war and claimed refugee status in Canada. We grew up on welfare and now I’m here. I’m really interested in this idea that there are many other people that are probably similarly situated that don’t get anywhere near the same opportunity or luck. If you can create those boundary conditions, you’ll see the world will be a better place because you’ll have many people who are bursting to do good things and have the chance to do those things.
Brigette: I grew up middle class and education really opened the door for me to explore and figure out who I am as an individual. I believe education opens doors for everyone, and that’s what I focus on at Social Capital.
You touched on making the world a better place. How does that guide Social Capital's investment strategy?
Chamath: When I come into work every day, what I think about is that there are a lot of hierarchies in society that are no longer productive. Every day, we work to put capital to work in the hands of people who are trying to rebuild those areas, such as healthcare and education, to be more peer-to-peer, more democratic, and more fair for as many people as possible.
At the end of the day, you have to answer the ultimate question: “Did I live a life that I was proud of?” I just want to know that I did my best to make the world fairer for everybody.
Brigette: When we invest, we are investing in entrepreneurs with great potential. That’s really exciting, because they’ve got the passion and they’ve got the energy to really drive their ideas and their vision. There are so many issues that we can address, and with both passion and dollars, we can make great things happen.
As an entrepreneur, what do you look for in a banking relationship?
Chamath: As a startup, we wanted to find the equivalent in terms of the people we worked with on a day-to-day basis. With First Republic, everything is very personal from the people, the interactions, the vocabulary, to the style. I think entrepreneurs go through a very emotional rollercoaster ride when they’re building a company, and a lot of it is about having people give you the time of day when you’re not really anybody. You need support if you’re going to succeed, and First Republic is a bank that will take a risk with you and support you through all the trials and tribulations of your company. They’ll be just as good to you in success as some of the dark times.
You recently opened up Tin Pot Creamery, an ice cream store in Palo Alto. What inspired you to take this direction?
Brigette: Chamath and I are both connoisseurs of ice cream. We used to drive up to San Francisco (to a competitor), wait 45 minutes in line, and enjoy our ice cream. Now that I have three kids, it’s nearly impossible to go anywhere, and it’s really important to me that we understand the ingredients in our food and that they’re high quality. In 2011, I met an amazing pastry chef, and we just hit it off. We knew that this is what we could build together to give back to the community and create experiences for the families in Palo Alto.
The views of the authors of these articles do not necessarily represent the views of First Republic Bank.
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