In 2015, venture capitalist Chris Sacca was one of Silicon Valley’s most influential investors, No. 3 on the Midas List with more than one million Twitter followers well before VC memes were the norm, and a regular appearance on ‘Shark Tank’. The Lowercase Capital partner’s early stakes in companies including Instagram, Twitter and Uber minted him a billionaire, putting him on the cover of Forbes.
Two years later, Sacca announced his retirement from startup investing and the show. He dropped off the Midas List. To a new generation of founders, he’s no longer the go-to name for early funding if building the next buzzy social app. In February, however, Sacca officially resurfaced with a new firm name and focus. Called Lowercarbon Capital, the fund, which Sacca is managing with wife Crystal and partner Clay Dumas, is focused on an area that has historically proven kryptonite for VC returns: climate.
For our first-ever Midas Touch newsletter, the weekly guide to the world of venture capital and startup fundraising, Forbes caught up with Sacca to ask about the new project, and subscribers got an early look on Sunday. Sign up here. The full interview — edited only to add full names and account for Sacca’s free use of cowboy-worthy language — runs below.
Midas Touch: It’s been almost four years since the “Hanging up my spurs” post. With the benefit of hindsight, what was the biggest reason for your retiring from startup investing?
Chris Sacca: I just wasn’t feeling it anymore. Back in the early days of Y Combinator and before, there was something so damn refreshing about the wave of companies that were being started as a result of a bunch of roadblocks coming down. These new teams didn’t need big venture rounds anymore. It was all open source, cloud hosted, direct to user launches. Entrepreneurs back then kind of felt like pioneers. But as time went on, and founders became celebs, starting a company became the default plan for too many poseurs.
At the same time, I just found myself unexcited about what was showing up in my inbox. I mean, bless each of these whippersnappers trying to build the next social weed gambling platform, but I just couldn’t get out of bed in the morning stoked to take that stuff on.
Believe me, it was weird. I had a really hard time raising my first fund, because, you know, who the hell was this kid who had never managed any money before. But, I announced that I was tapping out at the time in my career when I was most bankable. Same goes for walking away from ‘Shark Tank’. Who does that? I loved that show and hanging with the other Sharks. Even Mr. Wonderful. But, when those companies came into the Tank, as much as I thought some of them would be winners, I just didn’t feel any fire. If someone goes on ‘The Bachelor’ everyone expects their marriage to last a couple of months. But when I invest in a company, I am making a 10+ year commitment to working with them. You just can’t fake that shit for that long.
MT: At the time, politics – and supporting organizations that could bring about political and electoral change – were what you signaled would be your focus.
The election of 2016 ushered in an unprecedented shit show and pushed America to the brink. Look, we can debate policy all day. Taxes, social safety net, defense, whatever. Reasonable people can disagree on that stuff. But Trump was undermining the institutions of democracy themselves. Corruption, secrecy, lack of accountability, straight up crimes, treason, name it. The craziest part about it? He never once had the support of the majority of Americans. A system that lets a minority of assholes wreck our democracy just isn’t okay.
So, yeah, we set about trying to build tools that…