If climate tech is the new software, Chris Sacca is the new, well, Chris Sacca. The Google executive turned venture capitalist made early bets on Twitter, Uber, Instagram and Stripe, catapulting him to the top of the Silicon Valley league tables. In 2017, Sacca retired from investing and turned to philanthropy and politics, including the defense of democracy in the face of the Trump “shit show,” as he called it. Last year, Sacca returned with a new passion: combating climate change, or in his colorful phrasing, “unf**cking the planet.” Lowercarbon Capital, run by Sacca and his wife, Crystal, and Clay Dumas, started as a family office. Last August, Lowercarbon raised $800 million in outside funds – in just a few days. Sacca, who lives in Jackson, Wyoming, is mulling new funds to invest in fusion energy and carbon removal. “For life as we know it to have a chance at surviving the hangover of a 170-year all-you-can-eat oil & gas buffet, we have to both reduce emissions and suck CO2 out of the sky,” he explained in a tweet.
Known for his cowboy shirts and appearances on Shark Tank and Billions, Sacca is amassing a portfolio of “kickass companies” tackling some of the thorniest climate challenges. Among his 40-plus investments: electric airplane maker Heart Aerospace, sustainable lithium miner Lilac, and fusion energy contenders Zap Energy and Commonwealth Fusion Systems (which last week raised $1.8 billion). Machine learning and shared lab space, computing resources and other infrastructure mean these startups can scale faster than an earlier generation of cleantech hopefuls, he says. Sacca supports President Biden’s climate agenda, but his faith lies with the market. “Markets already understand that it’s too damn expensive to keep powering our economy by digging up and burning old dinosaur bones,” he says. “The real solutions to the carbon nightmare will win because they’re cheaper, better, faster, stronger, simpler and just plain cooler than what’s available today.”