The Shark Tank shark and angel investor talks about one of his most controversial investments.
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“Super” angel investor Chris Sacca spoke about his retirement from venture investing and Shark Tank, his plans for political activism, his new TV role, and the tech sector’s role in the world’s problems at the Collision conference in New Orleans Tuesday. Here are a few highlights:
On the tech sector’s political and social problems: “I think generally we’re naïve. Generally speaking, people are proud to work in Silicon Valley because things always start with the very best intentions.”
On the future of the country: “It’s going to be leaderless and decentralized. That’s scary and that’s the poetry of the whole thing.”
On his decision to retire: Sacca noted that he didn’t enjoy being “deferred to” once it became widely known he was a billionaire. “Our election taught us that ‘billionaire’ is a very powerful word in our country. Once you call yourself that, people just stop calling bullsh** on it.” He added: In arguments, people “defer to anyone who is called a billionaire in a totally non-deserving way.”
He added: “The more success you have for something in particular, the more there is just inertia around that. It would be easy enough to go out and raise a big mega-fund and keep going with this thing forever, just leaching off the fees, building up a big team.” But he wants to start over and challenge himself. “There is more to me and more to my passion and more to what I think I can have an impact on than just startups.”
On his TV role in the pilot of “Startup”: Jordan Peele was originally going to play Chris Sacca. (He passed, so Sacca is playing himself.)
On the tech sector’s role in the world’s problems: “I think generally we’re naïve. Generally speaking people are proud to work with Silicon Valley because things always start with the very best intentions.”
On Uber CEO Travis Kalanick: Sacca, who is an early Uber investor, said he recently reconnected with CEO Travis Kalanick after years of not speaking. He believes Kalanick “materially changing right now for the better.” He told a story of reconciliation: “Travis is in a very vulnerable and introspective state right now in a way I’ve never seen him. For the good. For the first time, maybe ever, he is acknowledging the places where he needs help and starting to take responsibility for his broader role in the consequences of the company and the culture, and that’s great. … I think that company is redeemable and that culture is fixable and I think Travis is waking up to why.”
On how Uber got in this mess: “Silicon Valley has learned to tune out the anecdotal feedback and just look a the numbers.” He noted that Uber was still signing up new users amid the #DeleteUber campaign, “so the algorithm and the data and the spreadsheet reinforce that bad behavior.”
On why he believes Uber will change: Job applications at Uber are down. “When it’s abundantly clear that a company has a culture issue, the best people in the world stop going to work there … and that is literally sucking the lifeblood out of the company. Even if you were Scrooge McDuck, you look at that, you’re like, ‘Oh sh**, we’re in real trouble we’re going to need to deal with this clusterf***.'”