Saccas of Money

Tech multimillionaire Obama bundler Chris Sacca moonlights as presidential hagiographer

Chris Sacca / Wikimedia Commons
August 15, 2012

Silicon Valley investment guru Chris Sacca is raising money for President Obama’s reelection campaign despite his worries about the administration’s enthusiasm for Dodd-Frank and its reluctance to embrace youthful economic advisers.

The multimillionaire venture capitalist from Truckee, Calif., has pledged to raise at least $500,000 for the president, according to the campaign’s most recent list of bundlers.

Sacca is a long-time Obama supporter, having "proudly worked" on the 2008 campaign as an adviser, surrogate, and field office volunteer. He also served as finance co-chair and trustee of the Presidential Inaugural Committee, to which he donated the maximum amount of $50,000. He has personally donated at least $8,000 to Obama since 2008, and more than $30,000 to Democratic candidates and committees during that same period.

Sacca was a top strategist at Google from 2003 to 2007 before founding Lowercase Capital, a venture capital firm specializing in technology start-ups. Before that, the Georgetown University Law Center graduate was an attorney at the Silicon Valley law firm Fenwick & West. His clients included Kleiner Perkins, an investment firm run by prominent Democratic donor and former Obama adviser, John Doerr.

Lowercase Capital’s portfolio includes dozens of firms, the most noteworthy being social media juggernaut Twitter. Sacca was one of the earliest financial backers of the company, investing $50,000 in 2007, and has "continued to invest pretty regularly" since then.

As of 2011, Sacca was the second largest shareholder backing Twitter cofounder Evan Williams. Through what TechCrunch described as a "secretive new $1+ billion fund" heavily financed by JP Morgan, Sacca acquired around $400 million (10 percent) worth of shares in Twitter.

Sacca declined to confirm or deny the fund’s existence in a 2011 interview.

Lowercase Capital oversees a number of multi-million dollar investment funds, including one announced earlier this year—Lowercase Spur—that will focus on start-up companies such as the private car service Uber.

Sacca was also an early investor in the online photo service Instagram. In 2011, he was part of a group that invested $7 million in the company that Facebook bought for $1 billion earlier this year.

Sacca’s first start-up investment was in Photobucket, another photo sharing website, which eventually sold for $250 million. Beginning in 2006, he funded the operation with his credit card, a move he later acknowledged "was probably illegal … but the statute of limitations is probably up."

As a result of his investment prowess, the 37-year-old was the youngest member of Forbes’ "Midas List," ranking among the top technology investors in the country in 2011.

Despite being a self-described "big fan" of President Obama, Sacca has criticized the administration for attempting to regulate venture capital investment. He blasted the 2010 Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Bill for its "short-sighted" and "frankly ridiculous" restrictions on angel investment.

"There’s no doubt about it that the restrictions that he’s proposing would absolutely chill investing," he told Venture Beat in 2010.

Sacca also criticized the president directly, expressing concern that "[Obama’s] teams of economic advisers do not include young people." The Obama administration, he said, "didn’t fully embrace the people who got it elected."

Sacca, by his own admission, was one of those people. In February 2009, he penned a 3,000 word blog post titled "Some Thoughts On What The Obama Election Meant To Me" in which he recounted, in extravagant detail, his experience as a campaign volunteer in the small town of Elko, Nevada.

Elko’s residents, he explained, were "fervently Republican and [have] a unique ability to be harsh and hateful."

"Their beliefs are often untenable, but trying to convince them otherwise is frequently futile," Sacca wrote, lamenting the "uncomfortably loud" Fox News broadcast played at his hotel and its "theater of security and patriotism that was destroying my country."

He described hearing former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin speak at a local gymnasium. "[She was] there to deliver her proprietary blend of xenophobia, division, and exclusion," he wrote. "Though she feigned confidence and assured the room of her impending triumph, we could nevertheless feel the failure of her message. She underestimated America and her naiveté made me smile."

A spiritual journey is related as Sacca, an admitted atheist (he says he does not believe in God, but does believe in church) describes how his frustration drove him to seek solace on the bike trails of neighboring Utah, where the beauty of nature awed him.

"The unreproducible [sic] light of magic hour dancing in a ballroom where millions of years of weather had perfected its own steps," he wrote. "Just to ensure I was permanently tattooed with the memory of this unique and solitary event, a rainbow emerged, and all of ROYGBIV winked at me, acknowledging the vast catharsis we had to ourselves."

Sacca decided to return to Elko, where he remained until election night, which caused him to reflect on how "unjustly lopsided my life had become."

"In my career, I get heaped with empty praise I don't deserve," he wrote. "Papers get carried away in a flurry of colorful and prophetic adjectives bathing me in baseless optimism. Venerable universities and corporations ask me to come spout scraps of blather raked from the confined yard of my experience so far. But, here I was, back in Elko, a worker among workers."

Finally, Sacca struggles to comprehend the enormous significance of Obama’s victory: "My sense of self was overwhelmed as I reflected upon our privilege. We are the luckiest people in history."

"President Obama is not a panacea," he declared. "However, he is the catalyst for our seemingly final redemption."

Sacca did not return a request for comment.