Twitter investor Chris Sacca dives into TV's 'Shark Tank' (Q&A)
The billionaire investor discusses what made him get into the water as a guest "Shark" on the reality show.
Terry CollinsStaff Reporter, CNET News
Terry writes about social networking giants and legal issues in Silicon Valley for CNET News. He joined CNET News from the Associated Press, where he spent the six years covering major breaking news in the San Francisco Bay Area. Before the AP, Terry worked at the Star Tribune in Minneapolis and the Kansas City Star. Terry's a native of Chicago.
Chris Sacca generally has a lot to say. But the influential tech investor couldn't get a word in edgewise when he joined "Shark Tank," the popular reality show about entrepreneurs.
In the show, high-profile investors battle one another to buy stakes in startups. The competition can be fierce, and entrepreneurs often try to pit one investor against the other to force a bidding war.
Even for Sacca, known for being intense and direct, the exchanges were a challenge.
"The Sharks step right on each other's questions, and if I ever did that in Silicon Valley, I would be considered a pariah," Sacca said in an interview. "I literally had to learn how to interrupt."
Sacca is known for his vocal support of microblogging site and global sounding board Twitter, one of his big investments, and maintains a blog that's become a must-read in the tech and business communities. An investor as well in ride-hailing service Uber and photo-sharing powerhouse Instagram, he has more than 1.6 million Twitter followers.
The angel investor said that negotiating with the "Shark Tank" entrepreneurs and against fellow Sharks, including tech billionaire Mark Cuban, got his competitive juices flowing again. Sacca, who wore his signature cowboy shirts while filming the show, declined to say how many deals he's cut but acknowledged that the intensity of the experience reminded him why he got into investing.
The first episode of "Shark Tank" featuring Sacca airs Friday. Sacca spoke to CNET about his role in the show.
Q: About a year ago at this time you tweeted out that Shark Tank wasn't "big boy" enough for you. Then you joined. How was the experience? Sacca: I had a blast. "Shark Tank" embodies the American Dream. If you watch the show at home, you find yourself constantly hollering at the Sharks. Being able to sit next to them and call them out in real time was quite a privilege. Plus, I got to meet entrepreneurs outside of tech, and that was cool.
So now you're a believer? Sacca: One of the things that struck me is how authentic "Shark Tank" is. I don't know how more real it can be. You have no prior knowledge about the entrepreneurs. They walk up there and deliver a true raw pitch. When you see a Shark fight erupt, we aggressively want to understand what we are committing our money toward.
All five Sharks can be arguing, [and there's a] passionate, intense back-and-forth, all competing for what we want. That's what's so special about it. I'm definitely open to coming back next season.
How did you fare in terms of making deals? Sacca: I'm really happy with the deals I made. We're already making money. A couple of them have raised more money and at higher valuations than what I paid for on the show. Overall, the quality of the companies this season is higher than ever before.
Describe each Shark in three words or less. Entrepreneur Robert Herjavec? Sacca: He underestimated me.
Retail products invention queen Lori Greiner? Sacca: She bites [in Shark terms].
Tycoon Kevin O'Leary, aka "Mr. Wonderful"? Sacca: Devastatingly honest.
Real estate mogul/motivational speaker Barbara Corcoran? Sacca: I underestimated her.
Your buddy, clothing magnate Daymond John? Sacca: Cool customer.
Pro basketball owner and tech titan Mark Cuban? Sacca: It's on!
What do you mean by that? Sacca: We mixed it up more than once this season. The gloves came off. Finally, the show has another deep-pocketed tech guy to keep him honest. We were battling for deals. That's all I'll say.