One morning last October, as wildfires raged across Northern California, President Donald Trump convalesced from Covid‑19, and Congress debated how big of a stimulus bill would be needed to rescue the economy, Chamath Palihapitiya went on TV to pitch investors on the latest stock he was taking public.

In a blue blazer and glasses, and accompanied by a bulletpointed slide deck, the Facebook-executive-turned-venture-capitalist explained how Clover Health Investments Corp. uses powerful machine-learning software to recommend treatments that keep people healthier. He predicted confidently that the insurer’s revenue would triple in two years and that its stock would increase tenfold in a decade. He granted that, yes, he’d received a stake in Clover for setting up the deal to take it public, but he said his interests were aligned with those of other investors, because he and his partners had also put about $171 million into the company…

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