08 August 2015 06:38:22 IST

Chamath Palihapitiya to invest $1 b in Indian start-ups

Chamath Palihapitiya

Silicon Valley venture capitalist to focus on financial services, energy and farm sectors

Silicon Valley venture capitalist and former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya plans to invest $1 billion in Indian start-ups over the next 10 years.

In the news for his recent $20 million investment into Indian mobile payments start-up Ezetap through his venture capital fund, The Social+Capital Partnership, Palihapitiya said he has become Chairman of the Ezetap board, the first for him in a portfolio company outside the US.

“We don’t do board meetings, because I hate board meetings which can happen over emails. As Chairman, I help them do product reviews, build the right products and create a product roadmap and, most importantly, give them the benefit of my learnings at Facebook,” he said.

People-centric projects

In India, Palihapitiya is looking to invest in businesses with products and solutions that target a billion-plus people in the areas of financial services, energy and power, infrastructure and agriculture. To understand the nuances of the India market, which he says is totally new to him, Palihapitiya has partnered with Bengaluru-based seed-stage VC fund Prime Venture Partners (earlier called AngelPrime). “Outside of Silicon Valley start-ups, I am most interested in investing in companies in the rest of the US and in India. We were introduced to Ezetap by Prime Venture, and Ezetap is poised to rewrite the financial services landscape in India for over a billion people.”

Unique solutions

“We are not keen on investing in start-ups that are Indian versions of American companies, but in ones that offer unique solutions to a billion-plus people. And if we see early traction in some of the companies we invest in, we could be investing more than $1 billion,” he said. The areas that Palihapitiya is looking to invest in are: water, food, power, energy and spectrum.

Based in Palo Alto, California, The Social+Capital Partnership has raised $1.2 billion in three rounds for its three funds to date, and has invested in 40-50 companies. Before he became a VC, Palihapitiya was part of Facebook’s senior executive team and helped it to become one of the most successful companies in the world.

In the US, his VC firm incubates and invests in disruptive start-ups in the areas of healthcare, education, finance, mobile and enterprise software.