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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Chris Sacca’s Lowercarbon Capital has raised $800 million to “keep unf*cking the planet” – TechCrunch

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Lowercarbon Capital, a climate-tech focused fund founded by longtime investor Chris Sacca and his wife Crystal Sacca, has closed on $800 million in capital, Sacca announced today in a post on the firm’s site.

According to Sacca, the commitments came exceedingly fast — in “just a few days.” Writes Sacca: “It turns out that raising for a climate fund in the context of an unprecedented heatwave and from behind the thick clouds of fire smoke probably didn’t hurt. In fact, all that pollution may have lent a warm, beautifying haze to our Zoom calls. Like an Incendiary Doom Glow Insta filter.”

The interest is far from surprising given the mounting and rather stark evidence that life as humans know it is in peril, owing to rising temperatures. On the heels of a deadly floods in Western Germany and China, wildfires in Greece and California, and in advance of yet another heat wave for which people in the Pacific Northwest are currently bracing, a new report released Monday by the United Nations’ climate science research group was clear about the current state of affairs, declaring a “code red for humanity.”

Certainly, some of Lowercarbon’s backers are interested in tech that’s working to reverse some of these trends, but as Sacca notes, if they’re purely focused on the financial rewards that climate-focused tech can reap, that’s fine, too.

“We are thrilled to see how many investors understand the urgency of the climate crisis and are already dedicating their time, as well as their capital, to real solutions,” he says in his post. “However, to be frank, we were also heartened by those investors who actually don’t care that much about the planet and instead are just chasing financial returns.”

Lowercarbon’s very thesis is that “massive change will happen because these types of investments will pay off for sheer business reasons alone,” he adds.

In addition to the Saccas, Lowercarbon is being run by Clay Dumas, a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based partner who is described in his team bio as the firm’s most active investor. Though the Harvard grad hasn’t been in the venture world long — first joining up with Sacca in 2017 to join his earlier firm Lowercase Capital as a partner — he understands the world of politics in a way that few, more “traditional” VCs, might.

After opening a field office for the campaign to elect Barack Obama in 2008, he went on to serve as an aide in the White House to the-then Deputy Chief of Staff and later worked (again in the White House) for the  Office of Digital Strategy.

Lowercarbon’s many dozens of bets to date include Heart Aerospace, a three-year-old, Göteborg, Sweden-based startup at work on an electric regional airliner to which the firm wrote a seed check (and more recently wrote a follow-on check); Holy Grail, a two-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based startup that’s prototyping a direct air carbon capture device that is modular and small (it announced seed funding in June); and Cervest, a six-year-old, London-based climate risk platform that says it provides commercial and government entities access to current, historic, and predictive views about how combined risks such as droughts, temperature changes, and mass flooding can impact the assets they own. The last raised $30 million in May.

Sacca, who became well-known for his early and outsize bets on both Twitter and Uber, was somewhat famously a judge on the popular TV show “Shark Tank” for several seasons before quitting the show — and venture capital — in 2017, saying he had always intended to retire at age 40. (At the time, he was 42.)

Sacca has said his growing concern regarding climate change — and his lack of faith that politicians can make a dent in reversing it — prompted him to rethink that decision. As he told Forbes in March: “We think that markets might actually hold the key to unf***ing the planet.”

According to an Axios report from June of last year, Lowercarbon was originally structured as a family office with tens of millions of dollars to deploy. As of the middle of last year, the only outside money it had accepted was for a “few special-purpose vehicles with institutional investors from Sacca’s prior funds,” the outlet reported.

Now, with $800 million to invest, the new fund suggests that Sacca is fully back to work. In fact, we’ll be talking with Sacca next month at TechCrunch Disrupt, so if you want to hear what’s top of mind for him right now, you won’t want to miss that conversation.

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