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 lives in Venice Beach, CA with his wife Sarah and their two little girls, 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.