Chris Sacca is the co-founder of Lowercarbon Capital and an accomplished venture investor, company advisor, and entrepreneur, managing a portfolio of countless technology, communication, and consumer product startups through his firm Lowercase Capital. Alongside his wife Crystal, Chris grew Lowercase — primarily known for its investments in very early-stage technology companies like Twitter, Uber, Instagram, Twilio, Docker, Optimizely, Blue Bottle Coffee, and Stripe — into one of history’s most successful funds ever.
The performance of the Lowercase funds made Chris one of the then youngest members of the Forbes Midas List in 2011 and vaulted him to the number two spot as well as earned him a spot on Vanity Fair’s New Establishment list before his retirement from broad-based venture capital in 2017 to focus on healing the climate, restoring American democracy, promoting diversity within technology and venture capital, and reforming the criminal justice system among other activist, political, and philanthropic pursuits.
These days, Chris heads a science and investing team at Lowercarbon Capital pursuing the world’s most ambitious solutions to the climate crisis that is threatening all life on the planet. Across the realms of energy, building materials, transportation, food, industrial chemicals, reforestation, and all of the underlying logistics, Lowercarbon is showing the world that focusing on climate solutions is just good business. In parallel with this work, Chris and Crystal have become some of the nation’s most prolific supporters of non-profit climate research.
Before setting out as an investor, Chris served as Head of Special Initiatives at Google, Inc. In that role, he founded and headed up Google’s Access division where his projects included Google’s multi-billion dollar 700MHz and TV white spaces spectrum initiatives, including leading Google’s participation in their $4.7 billion FCC spectrum auction bidding. Chris co-led the siting and acquisition of the company’s groundbreaking data centers in Oregon, Georgia, and the Netherlands, and helped propel the company’s global fiber-optic and undersea cable footprint, and Google’s free citywide municipal WiFi network in Mountain View, CA.
Chris also spearheaded many of Google’s business development and M&A transactions and was on the founding team of the company’s New Business Development division. Chris was further responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars and euros worth of domestic and international governmental joint ventures including some of the tech industry’s early clean energy initiatives. In recognition of his accomplishments, Chris was among the first Google employees ever given the Founders’ Award, Google’s highest internal honor.
Earlier in his career, Chris was an attorney at the Silicon Valley firm of Fenwick & West, where he handled venture capital, mergers and acquisitions, and licensing transactions for technology and research companies both in the US and abroad. After Fenwick, Chris served in various executive roles, including General Counsel and Head of Corporate Development, at one of the world’s largest streaming and digital media companies, Speedera Networks, which was acquired by Akamai Technologies.
As a longtime supporter of both President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris, Chris was on their 2020 campaign’s National Finance Committee and is a member of Climate Leaders for Biden. Previously, Chris was deeply involved in Barack Obama and Joe Biden’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns. He worked as an advisor, field office volunteer, Co-Chair of National Finance, and a Trustee of the Presidential Inaugural Committee. During President Obama’s reelection, he continued his work as a National Finance Committee member, a host of the President’s roundtable series, and as Co-Chair of Tech for Obama/Biden. Following the 2016 election, Chris and Crystal became the most active funders of a new generation of political engagement tools and organizations that helped secure victories up and down the ballot in 2018 and 2020.
Chris has spent more than a decade as a fixture on television, radio, podcasts, in magazines and newsprint, and across social media. In 2015, he joined the cast of Shark Tank for two Emmy Award-winning seasons, and has starred as himself on the ABC series Alex, Inc., and on Showtime’s Billions. Chris has appeared on a wide variety of business and news television shows, in the US and abroad, as well as done countless interviews for print and podcasts along the way on topics ranging from business and entrepreneurship to philanthropy and politics.
Chris graduated cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center where he was a member of The Tax Lawyer law review and was honored as a Philip A. Ryan and Ralph J. Gilbert Memorial Scholar. He also graduated cum laude from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University where he majored in Humanities in International Affairs and was an Edmund Evans Memorial Scholar as well as a Weeks Family Foundation Scholar.
In the course of his studies, Chris attended university at the Universidad Católica del Ecuador in Quito, Ecuador, University College Cork, in Cork, Ireland, and the Universidad Complutense in Madrid, Spain, and during his time in law school, worked in San Salvador, El Salvador. Long before any of that, beginning in 7th grade, Chris attended night school at the State University of New York at Buffalo for six years of college mathematics and quickly learned that technology, computers, and innovation would be passions of his for life.
Throughout his career, Chris has carved out time for academic experiences and fellowships including as a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute, an Associate Fellow of the Said Business School at Oxford University, an MIT Enterprise Forum Global Trustee, and named to the Atlantic Council Vanguard 25.
Chris lives with Crystal and their three daughters in Jackson, Wyoming. When not working to heal the planet, reform our criminal justice system, and provide access to clean water in the developing world, Chris is an avid alpine and nordic skier, kitesurfer, recovering Ironman triathlete, average-proficiency crossword puzzler, beginner violinist trying to keep up with his kids, intermittent helicopter pilot, and he has bicycled coast-to-coast across the United States of America.
Crystal Sacca is a co-founder and partner of Lowercarbon Capital as well as a partner at Lowercase Capital, where she co-led early investments in companies including Uber and Blue Bottle Coffee and advises countless technology and consumer product companies within the portfolio. The Lowercase and Lowercarbon startups Crystal backs lean on her experience as a globally-renowned advertising creative helping companies like Audi, Intel, Barclays, HBO, Sprint, HP, E*TRADE, and even Napster speak to a worldwide audience with thought-provoking wit and insight.
Today, her focus extends into bolstering our democracy, promoting diversity in the venture capital community, championing the plight of women and girls around the world, providing access to clean water to the developing world, protecting and advocating for refugees, reforming our criminal justice system, and healing the planet.
Prior to Lowercase, Crystal’s advertising creative career was marked by a little bit of good luck and a lot of formal recognition among the industry’s most distinguished juries. She won a Cannes Lion, Two Gold Cannes Cyberlions, a few One Show Pencils, and a pile of ADCs, D&DADs, Kellys, Andys, Effies, Webbys, and ADDYs. She was named an ADC Young Gun, one of AdWeek’s “Best Creatives You Don’t Know,” and served as a judge for the One Show and the Webbys. You’ll likely recognize her “Rockstar” spot for Intel which was regarded as one of the funniest ads of the year and was eventually translated into dozens of languages.
Crystal serves on the Board of Trustees of the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum. She believes in the power of design to change the world—from climate solutions and justice, to diversity and inclusion. Serving as the Co-Chair of the museum’s Engagement and Experience Committee, Crystal harnesses the Smithsonian’s platform to celebrate that power across our nation and beyond.
Crystal is a founding member of The Design Vanguard, a community of the foremost creative leaders from the business, tech, and social sectors seeking to leverage their resources and influence to catapult design forward in service of creating a more just and beautiful world.
Known as an accomplished author and designer, Crystal’s first book, The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert, was a New York Times Bestseller and Amazon #1. Her follow-up book, The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide to Becoming a Whiskey Know-It-All, was also a bestseller and achieved resounding critical acclaim. Crystal regularly lends her talents as a designer and artist to local, national, and global issues including her well-known Everyone Welcome artwork created in the wake of the Muslim ban for the Creative Action Network.
Crystal is an all-American Foreign Service brat raised by parents who spent their careers working for the U.S. Department of State. She spent her childhood posted in Vietnam, Mauritania, The Gambia, Swaziland, Japan, and India.
Crystal graduated cum laude from the Georgetown University Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service with a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service with a major in Humanities in International Affairs and attended thanks in part to winning an American Foreign Service Association merit scholarship.
As a longtime supporter of both President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris, Crystal was on their 2020 campaign’s National Finance Committee and is a member of Climate Leaders for Biden. In the 2012 election, Crystal served as an Obama/Biden National Finance Committee member, a supporter of the President’s roundtable series, and as a Co-Chair of Tech for Obama/Biden. After the 2016 election, Crystal and Chris helped fund and build a new wave of voter registration, mobilization, and candidate recruitment tools that had an outsized impact on the pivotal races of 2018 and 2020.
Outside of her venture capital work for Lowercase and Lowercarbon, and her service, activism, and philanthropy initiatives, Crystal can be found designing, traveling the world, hiking, teaching yoga, skiing, surfing, brushing up her Muay Thai skills, fly fishing, watercolor painting, and raising three gutsy girls under ten in the mountains of Wyoming. Read more about Crystal and see some of her work at crystalenglishsacca.com.
Clay is a founding partner at Lowercarbon Capital and, as the team’s most active investor, Clay identifies and supports the firm’s preposterously ambitious companies working to undo global warming while making real money in the process. He also advises climate nonprofits such as Silver Lining, who are working to avert dangerous climate tipping points. As climate tech’s growth has exploded over the past several years, Clay has shared countless lessons learned on topics from reflecting sunlight to the future of fusion energy with audiences ranging from startup conferences to ARPA-E summits.
In parallel with co-leading the Lowercarbon strategy, Clay is also a partner at Lowercase Capital, one of the industry’s highest-performing early-stage venture funds, where he owns the firm’s primary relationship with dozens of technology and consumer startups. He works closely with founders on product, fundraising, messaging, and policy strategy. Clay serves on the board of Tala, a Lowercase portfolio company building financial services for individuals who’ve been frozen out of the formal banking system in emerging markets.
Through Lowercase and its philanthropic affiliates, Clay also invests in companies and organizations to reboot democracy, expand social and economic opportunities, and shore up our civil and criminal justice systems. As part of this work, he serves on the Legal Services Corporation’s Emerging Leaders Council and has advised organizations such as The Bail Project in their efforts to end cash bail and build a more humane pre-trial system.
Beginning in 2017, Clay spearheaded Lowercase’s efforts to back startups like Mobilize, Swayable, and Swing Left helping Democrats take back the House. The strategy was rooted in the idea that instead of lighting money on fire running hackneyed ads with Super PACs, we should build scalable, tech-driven platforms whose data and products would keep improving cycle after cycle. Clay assembled a portfolio of more than a dozen teams making tools that drove millions of volunteer shifts, turned organizing social, recruited young and diverse candidates to throw their hats in the ring, and helped down-ballot candidates access high-caliber data. Together, these teams had an unambiguous impact on a 2020 election that was decided by only tens of thousands of votes in just a handful of states.
From climate to democracy, there’s a through-line from Clay’s work at Lowercarbon and Lowercase to the three days in 2008 when he drove 2,411 miles from Van Nuys, California to Ashtabula, Ohio to run a field office for the campaign to elect Barack Obama. He went on to hold leadership roles on the management team for President Obama’s reelection campaign in Chicago, including staffing the National Business Advisory Committee chaired by Secretary Penny Pritzker. Following President Obama’s inauguration, Clay was recruited to join the President’s team at the White House where he worked next door to the Oval Office.
During Clay’s time in the West Wing, he served as an aide to the Senior Advisor and the Deputy Chief of Staff. His work spanned operations and security to media and political strategy, culminating in working on the team that produced the 2014 State of the Union Address. He went on to help rebuild the Office of Digital Strategy, a team tasked by President Obama to use the internet to connect people with purpose. Part of his mandate was to reinvigorate how the White House built online support for its conservation, energy, and other planet-healing initiatives. In recognition of this work and its impact both within and outside of politics, he was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2017.
Clay graduated from Harvard College with honors and studied philosophy and economics culminating in a thesis on the intellectual underpinnings of consumer borrowing. His interest in debt and credit stemmed from his experiences in Northeastern Ohio speaking to women and men who had been preyed upon by the payday-lending industry. This led to an investigation of the underappreciated ways in which credit card debt helped drive the wave of home refinancings that ultimately set off the 2008 financial crisis. During his time at Harvard, he also found an outlet to spout unqualified opinions on all manner of topics as an officer of the Harvard Crimson’s editorial staff.
Clay was born in Venice Beach and was brought up as a native French speaker. Today he lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife Sarah and their little girl Helen, in whom he hopes to instill an appreciation for running outside, a discerning palate for chocolate croissants, and abiding admiration for the Showtime era of LA Lakers basketball.
Dr. Clea Kolster
DIRECTOR OF SCIENCE
Clea is the Director of Science at Lowercarbon Capital and leads all of the firm’s technical research, development, diligence, and scientific strategy efforts. Clea’s distinguished career has always been focused on solving the climate emergency through innovation in technology, business models, and policy.
Prior to joining Lowercarbon, she worked at San Francisco-based energy consulting firm, E3, where she developed electricity resource planning models and economy-wide decarbonization plans for entire states, utilities, and asset owners, with a focus on the role of hard science emerging technologies like hydrogen production methods, long-duration energy storage, biomass conversion, carbon sequestration, geothermal and advanced nuclear. She led the analysis on over 15 projects in her 2 years at E3 including “Achieving Carbon Neutrality in California” (link) for the California Air Resources Board, “Net-Zero New England: Ensuring Electric Reliability in a Low-Carbon Future” (link) in collaboration with the Energy Futures Initiative, and another on “Examining the Role of Nuclear for Decarbonizing the Pacific Northwest”(link).
Clea also co-founded her own company focused on access to clean cooking fuels in West Africa, having previously worked on clean energy access and investment across emerging markets in East and North Africa. Some of her field research is summarized here. Before that, Clea worked for Veolia, a global leader in waste management and conversion, where she developed investment strategies for non-ferrous metal extraction from biological waste streams and monitoring technologies for ozone-depleting substances.
Clea earned her Ph.D. in chemical engineering and energy policy at Imperial College London. She was awarded the Grantham Institute’s full scholarship to conduct her Ph.D. and went on to be the student representative of the Grantham Institute at the Paris COP21 Climate Conference. Clea conducted her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Imperial College London and was the only student selected to spend a year at Columbia University in New York.
Clea’s Ph.D. work focused on the techno-economics of large scale carbon capture and storage systems, part of which she conducted at Stanford University’s Energy Resources & Engineering department. With multiple publications under her belt, including “Cost and Performance of Some Carbon Capture Technology Options for Producing Different Quality CO2 Product Streams” (link) and “CO2 Enhanced Oil Recovery: A Catalyst for Gigatonne-Scale Carbon Capture and Storage Deployment?” (link) each cited dozens of times, she was invited to present her research at several international conferences including at the distinguished Stanford Energy Seminar in 2018.
Clea sits on the technical advisory board of Third Derivative, a hard science-driven climate innovation accelerator founded by the Rocky Mountain Institute. She is also a founding fellow of On Deck’s first Climate Tech program where she advises entrepreneurs and scientists on key areas of focus on climate innovation. Clea has moderated and led panel discussions for groups such as AirMiners and the Clean Energy Leadership Institute’s (CELI) annual emPower conference on the future of a decarbonized economy, and US federal policy on climate.
Clea is a global nomad of Iranian and Danish descent. She has lived in Paris, London, New York, Tunis, Nairobi, and Washington, D.C., and along the way, she picked up five languages (more or less). Clea is also an avid alpine skier, US Sailing certified sailor who’s crewed boats over 35 feet long, a two-time half-marathon runner, and long-distance cyclist who once biked from London to Paris (~300 miles) in under 4 days raising more than $10k for a refugee support group along the way.
Alex is a Principal at Lowercarbon Capital where he keeps his ear to the ground for the most audacious climate solutions. As Lowercarbon’s Swiss Army knife, Alex brings wide-ranging expertise on scalable climate solutions across power, agriculture, transport, industry, and beyond. He believes that climate change is not only humanity’s greatest challenge but also its most meaningful opportunity to fundamentally rebuild global society toward a more sustainable and equitable future.
Prior to joining Lowercarbon, Alex worked to accelerate clean energy access and deployment in emerging markets, including South Asia, Southeast Asia, and East Africa. Most recently, Alex was a master’s student at Stanford University focused on the policies, business models, and technologies required to decarbonize the hardest-to-abate sectors like cement, steel, chemicals, and heavy transportation. He traveled to and collaborated with stakeholders in India, Kenya, Uganda, and Bangladesh on policy and financing mechanisms for clean energy and electric vehicle deployment, including with ReNew Power, the country’s largest renewable energy producer in the world’s fastest-growing energy market.
Previously, Alex was a Fulbright Scholar in rural Indonesia researching the nexus of climate vulnerability, energy access, and food and water security at the frontlines of climate change. It was in Indonesia that Alex came to appreciate how fast we were running out of time, leading him to collaborate with the Forum for Climate Engineering Assessment and briefly with Harvard University’s Solar Geoengineering Research Program as a visiting scholar.
Born in Madrid and raised in New York, Alex speaks Spanish, French, and Indonesian. The jury is out on whether he can claim Italian too. In addition to India and Indonesia, he’s also lived in Uganda, Belgium, and Spain. Alex currently lives in Brooklyn and volunteers with the Henry Viscardi School, a specialized New York public school for students with severe physical disabilities, and with the HOPEFUL School in rural Uganda where he spent a summer teaching soccer. An avid backpacker and street food enthusiast, Alex has traveled to nearly 50 countries and (painfully) built up a mean microbiome in the process.
Alex holds a MA in international policy specializing in energy, natural resources, and the environment from Stanford University, an Honors BA in international studies specializing in environmental and economic development from American University, and a fellowship from the Clean Energy Leadership Institute (CELI).