Billionaire investor Chris Sacca made his “Shark Tank” debut Friday night in the sixth episode of season 7, splitting a deal with Mark Cuban and duking it out with Lori Greiner, all in his signature tacky cowboy shirt.
It was easy to imagine him as a permanent member of the cast, and it’s why the show’s producers should consider adding him as the seventh Shark next season.
It would give Sacca a platform to raise awareness of his deals and make new ones outside of the insular world of Silicon Valley, and give the show a fresh face who fits in perfectly with its progression toward bigger deals and savvier entrepreneurs.
Sacca left his job as head of special initiatives at Google in 2007 and became a successful angel investor before starting his venture capital firm Lowercase Capital.
He founded Lowercase on the philosophy that he and his partners would only invest in companies they truly believed in and would work closely with.
With early stage investments in companies like Twitter, Uber, and Instagram, Sacca and his partners got rich and became some of the most renowned investors in Silicon Valley.
At a Halloween party last year, Sacca ran into Clay Newbill, one of the “Shark Tank” executive producers. Sacca told Newbill he understood the show’s appeal but wouldn’t want to participate. It seemed like a watered down version of his real job, and featured too many goofy ideas for him to take it seriously.
Newbill proposed having Sacca meet with showrunner Mark Burnett and the production team — as well as Sony executives responsible for the show — to discuss ways to make it better.
Sacca told Business Insider that he was so impressed with their conversations that he agreed to film an episode as a guest Shark. The producers liked what they saw and invited him back to shoot a few more, which is what happened with Cuban in season 2, before Cuban joined full-time the next year.
And in the same way that the full-time addition of Cuban in season 3 and Greiner in season 4 added new life and another dimension of expertise to the show, the addition of Sacca could help it evolve to the next stage.
Sacca can’t be faulted for once considering “Shark Tank” to be like a “dime-store version” of the investment world, as he wrote in a blog post, because the show did once rely on companies that were either quite small or objectively ridiculous.
Season 1, for example, featured both a man wanting to start implanting Bluetooth ear pieces into people’s ear canals as well as a woman who invented a way to store more Post-It notes on your laptop screen.
But like the startups it features, “Shark Tank” had to start small and grow up. The latest episode is actually a perfect example of how far the show has come:
The deal Sacca lost to Greiner was for a piece of a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) learning center for children that was founded by two sisters, Lavanya and Melissa Jawaharlal.
Sacca told us the two women “were some of the best pitchers I have ever seen anywhere … I would have hired them on the spot for any job in [Lowercase Capital’s] portfolio.”
And Sacca says he’s very excited about the deal he and Cuban partnered up on — a 10% equity split for Rent Like A Champion in exchange for a $US200,000 investment.
The company is essentially Airbnb for college towns that host large sporting events. The company has done $US6.1 million in total sales in the past five years. It was a “no-brainer” deal for Sacca, who infamously missed out on an early investment in Airbnb. “That’s been super fun and they have continued to grow like a weed.”
Sacca said on Twitter after the show that he’s made more deals on “Shark Tank” that will be featured in future episodes, and that all of them have closed after due diligence.
Sacca said that back when he had a snarky view of the show, he imagined his peers in Silicon Valley and Wall Street would share it, and then later expected them to roll their eyes when he told them he was going to appear on it. But instead, he found that plenty of big-time investors he knows are fans of the show and have been very supportive of his decision to appear in a few episodes this season.
He told us that he’s certainly open to filming more episodes if the producers asked him.
“‘Shark Tank’ takes me back to all of the reasons of why I got into this business in the first place,” he said. “There’s none of the politics of the late-stage deals. Instead it’s just entrepreneurs, their product, and seeing if they can make something that people are really going to use and want. And that’s thrilling for me.”
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