STARTUP INVESTING IS
— ONE OF MY THINGS —
BUT IT’S NOT MY EVERYTHING
The not-so-executive summary
You likely know me as an investor, advisor, entrepreneur, political activist, and that guy sometimes on Shark Tank. I am the Chairman of Lowercase Capital and Lowercarbon Capital. Together with my wife Crystal English Sacca, we have invested in dozens of early-stage companies that include some now-iconic names like Twitter, Uber, Instagram, Twilio, Stripe, Kickstarter, and even Blue Bottle.
Yet, in early 2017, I announced I was stepping back from making new investments to focus on our ongoing efforts to rescue democracy, heal the planet, promote diversity within venture capital and technology, and reform our criminal justice system.
These days, I head up a team of investors and scientists at Lowercarbon Capital pursuing the world’s most ambitious solutions to the climate crisis threatening all life on the planet. Across the realms of clean energy, building materials, transportation, food, reforestation, industrial chemicals, and all of the underlying logistics, Lowercarbon is funding the unfundable and showing the world that, while doing so is good for the world, it’s also just good business. In parallel with this work, Crystal and I have become prolific supporters of non-profit climate research.
This whole venture capital thing started when I left the perfect gig at Google to break out on my own. As Google’s Head of Special Initiatives, I founded and headed up Google’s Access division, including our multi-billion dollar 700MHz and TV white spaces spectrum initiatives, the company’s groundbreaking data centers in Oregon, Georgia, and the Netherlands, and Google’s free citywide WiFi network in Mountain View, CA. Along the way, I led many of Google’s business development and M&A transactions and was on the founding team of the company’s New Business Development organization. I also spearheaded over half a gigawatt worth of clean energy deals and worked on pioneering efforts in sustainability and climate tech innovation. In recognition of my work, I was among the first Google employees ever given the Founders’ Award, Google’s highest internal honor.
Things went really well for me at Google. I was given the room and the resources to shake things up at scale. Along the way, I wrote my first checks to seed-stage outfits like Photobucket (acquired by Fox Interactive) and Twitter. I also co-led Google’s seed investment in Meraki, which later sold for $1.2 billion. But despite a very cool internal culture, Google started to feel like a big company, and I knew I was happiest when working with founders in scrappier environments.
So, in the Fall of 2007, when I told Larry, Sergey, and Eric I was leaving to go work with startups, I was just following my gut. I didn’t have a plan nor enough money to be a professional investor. I soon worried I had made the biggest mistake of my life. Yet, I was passionate about this new wave of entrepreneurship that allowed founders to just start coding without first raising millions of dollars, and I knew I wanted to get right in the middle of all that. I was confident I could help these new companies.
The performance of those investments made me one of the youngest members of the Forbes “Midas List” in 2011, and I climbed every year since, ultimately landing in the #2 spot in 2017. I’ve been on a bunch of other lists along the way, but my favorite hands down is when my trademark cowboy shirts earned me a spot on GQ’s ”Worst Dressed List.”
Alongside all of these professional pursuits, I have been a longtime supporter of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. I was on their 2020 campaign’s National Finance Committee, a Chair of the Presidential Inaugural Committee, and a member of Climate Leaders for Biden. Before that, I was deeply involved in Barack Obama and Joe Biden’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns. I worked as an advisor, field office volunteer, Co-Chair of National Finance, and a Trustee of the Presidential Inaugural Committee. During the reelection, I continued his work as a National Finance Committee member, a host of the President’s technology roundtable series, and as Co-Chair of Tech for Obama/Biden. Following the 2016 election, frustrated by the Democrats’ loss of the digital organizing advantage, Crystal and I became the most active funders of a new generation of political engagement tools that helped secure victories up and down the ballot in 2018 and 2020.
Meantime, you know I have never shied from sharing my opinions about anything, so I have spent years as a loud and candid fixture on television, radio, and podcasts. Some of my favorites are collected here. A couple of years ago, I joined the cast of Shark Tank for episodes spanning a few Emmy Award-winning seasons where I loved being a thorn in the side of Mark Cuban and Kevin O’Leary. You might have also seen me co-star on the ABC series Alex Inc., and drop in for a cameo on Showtime’s Billions.
Not enough bio for you? Want to go back a little farther? Early in my career, I was an attorney at the Silicon Valley firm of Fenwick & West, where I worked on venture capital, mergers & acquisitions, and licensing transactions for technology giants. (Let’s keep this whole me being a lawyer thing between us.) Then I served in various executive roles at one of the world’s largest streaming and digital media companies, Speedera Networks (acquired by Akamai Technologies).
Turn the book back a few more pages, and you’ll find I graduated cum laude from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and was an Edmund Evans Memorial Scholar as well as a Weeks Family Foundation Scholar. Undergrad is where Crystal and I met as classmates. (She often reminds me that her GPA was .02 higher than mine.) Earning my Foreign Service degree included plenty of time abroad attending the Universidad Católica del Ecuador in Quito, Ecuador, University College Cork, in Cork, Ireland, and the Universidad Complutense in Madrid, Spain.
I went on to graduate cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center, where I was a member of The Tax Lawyer law review, was awarded the Philip A. Ryan and Ralph J. Gilbert Memorial scholarships, and spent some time working in a law firm in El Salvador. Long before any of that, beginning in 7th grade, I attended night school at the State University of New York at Buffalo for years of college mathematics classes wearing thick glasses, awkward braces, and knowing the entire time that technology and innovation would always be passions of mine.
Over the arc of my career, I’ve been sure to carve out time for academic experiences and fellowships, including roles as an Associate Fellow of the Said Business School at Oxford University, an MIT Enterprise Forum Global Trustee, an Atlantic Council Vanguard 25 member, and a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute.
These days, I live with my wife Crystal and our three gutsy girls in Jackson, Wyoming, and our home away from home, Copenhagen, Denmark. Alpine and nordic skiing are religious pursuits for me. When not trying to heal the planet, reform our criminal justice system, and accelerate research into supportive and therapeutic care and vaccines for COVID-19, I’m also a kitesurfer, recovering Ironman triathlete, average-proficiency crossword puzzler, beginner violinist trying to keep up with his kids, and I’ve bicycled coast-to-coast across the United States of America.