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Photo Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Photo by Nicola Gell/Getty Images for SXSW.

Chris Sacca was one of the past decade's most successful venture capitalists, with a run that included early bets in such companies as Instagram, Twitter and Uber. Then, in 2017, he quit.

Driving the news: Sacca is good at investing, but bad at retiring. He's now running a new firm called Lowercarbon Capital, focused on startups that are developing "technologies to reduce CO2 emissions, remove carbon from the atmosphere, and actively cool the planet."

"Clean tech" remains a dirty word for many venture capitalists, due to the mountains of cash lost on such deals in the late aughts.

  • Sacca argues that the sector today is akin to internet tech in 2005 when Y Combinator launched, in terms of lower startup costs and clearer paths to scale.
  • This is not, he stressed to me yesterday during a CB Insights conference interview, a charity case. Sacca also says he welcomes the investment participation of oil majors like Chevron and ExxonMobil, even though that's blasphemy in some clean-tech investment circles.
  • Portfolio companies include a startup focused on lithium extraction tech, a carbon credits marketplace, and an oyster hatchery in Maine.

Details: Lowercarbon currently is structured as a family office ⁠— Chris' wife Crystal is co-founder ⁠— in the tens of millions of dollars. It hasn't yet accepted outside money save for a few special-purpose vehicles with institutional investors from Sacca's prior funds, but there's a growing possibility that it will do a formal fundraiser.

  • Elsewhere: Climate tech investing is having a big week. Sweden's Pale Blue Dot raised $60 million for a new fund, Prime Impact Fund emerged from stealth with $50 million, and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners raised a €1.5 billion fund focused on renewable energy infrastructure.

The bottom line: Sacca's participation could prompt others to tip their toes back in, or for the first time, but a stampede is unlikely until the new generation of clean tech companies produces a massive hit.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Sep 24, 2020 - Energy & Environment

CO2 capture is growing but still lags badly, IEA says

Screenshot of IEA's "CCUS in Clean Energy Transitions" report

There's growing momentum behind deploying technology that traps and stores CO2 emissions, but much more investment and stronger policies are needed, the International Energy Agency said in a new report.

Why it matters: The technology is vital to enabling the radical emissions cuts needed through the 2050-2070 timeframe to keep temperature rise in check, the agency said.

Updated 49 mins ago - Technology

Mayors see cryptocurrency as a way to address income inequality

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

At the U.S. Conference of Mayors' meeting in D.C. this week, there's buzz around the idea of giving cryptocurrency accounts to low-income people.

Why it matters: Cities have been experimenting with newfangled ways to address income inequality — like guaranteed income programs — and the latest wave of trials could involve paying benefits or dividends in bitcoin, stablecoin or other digital currencies.

Updated 51 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized COVID patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated" — Fauci: "Confident" Omicron cases will peak in February
  2. Vaccines: Team USA 100% vaccinated against COVID ahead of Beijing Olympics — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America — Annual COVID vaccine preferable to boosters, says Pfizer CEO.
  3. Politics: Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates — Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults — Beijing officials urge COVID-19 "emergency mode" before Winter Olympics.
  5. Variant tracker