February 5

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Billionaire Bitcoin investor backs away from California governor bid


Citing the need to focus on business, venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya has put his political aspirations on hold.

Only 10 days after announcing he would run for California state governor, long-time Bitcoin proponent and billionaire investor Chamath Palihapitiya has backed away from the idea in a Feb. 2 episode of The All In Podcast.

Palihapitiya, who started investing in Bitcoin in 2012, has been a vocal critic of current California Governor Gavin Newsom, tweeting the hashtag, “#RecallGavinNewsom” on Jan. 26. The tweet linked to a site saying “Chamath for California Governor” and containing a number of policy promises. However, he’s since thought better of the plan.

“Let’s be really honest,” he said on the podcast, in response to a question about his run for governor, “I’m not ready to do any of that.” Instead of focusing on a political career, he said he would rather focus on where his business is going.

“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. I cannot make a credible decision without all of that.”

The petition to recall Newsom over the mishandling of the state’s response to COVID-19 has not yet garnered enough signatures to put the recall in motion. Launched in June last year, it has attracted 1.3M signatures, but requires 195,000 more before Mar. 17. Regardless of the outcome, the website outlining his positions remains up, and he continues to use his appearances on All In to discuss political issues.

“The government should be doing the things they need to do for people to have an even starting line,” he said, in a typical example.

One of the themes of the latest podcast episode was “insiders vs. outsiders,” with Palihapitiya painting a picture of two classes of people: those who can say anything, and those who are listened to. The caveat that comes with belonging in the latter category, he says, is not being able to criticize other insiders.

In Jul. 2019, Palihapitiya proclaimed Bitcoin to be the “single best hedge against the traditional financial infrastructure.” In Apr. 2020, weeks after the stock market suffered its worst losses since 2008, he reiterated his view, remarking that Bitcoin could be seen as a “flight to safety” in the event that infrastructure supporting traditional systems starts to collapse.

A report published by Hindenburg Research on Feb. 4 alleges there is an ongoing undisclosed investigation by the Department of Justice into Chamath’s actions while promoting Clover Health, a publicly-traded health insurance provider.

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