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SXSW: Billionaire Chris Sacca on Tech's New Business Blindspot

Use your voice.


Entrepreneur is on the ground at SXSW. Watch our coverage for highlights throughout the festival.

Chris Sacca isn’t just a self-made billionaire who's outspoken when giving grief to fellow Shark Tank stars Mark Cuban and Kevin O’Leary.

Unlike a lot of personalities with a television presence, his feed isn’t just a forum to support his projects. It’s a place where he’s openly shared his concerns about the U.S. political climate as well as discussed topics such as healthcare reform and potential Russian ties.



This openness stands out during a time when business leaders are attempting to find the right balance when it comes to speaking out about policy changes -- even ones that could impact their companies. We asked Sacca -- who saw promise in Uber, Twitter, Instagram and others (but not Snapchat) -- about his own political awareness and why it could be useful to entrepreneurs ahead of his chat today at 3:30 p.m. at SXSW.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Related: The Rules For Mastering SXSW are the Same For Mastering Life (and Every Other Conference)

The role for business leaders isn’t always obvious when it comes to politics. What’s your advice for business leaders looking to balance the risk of speaking out and the risk of staying silent, especially when changes could impact their business?

More than anything else, today's users, customers and employees demand and respect authenticity. They can tell when a leader isn't being genuine and that translates to weakness.

It's a politically charged time but there are still plenty who prefer not to be updated on political shifts, even when it's a matter of practicality and could change how they operate their companies. This time around it's not business as usual. Most of us can agree that had McCain or Romney been elected, America would've generally been fine. Their policy proposals, though usually at odds with progressives, were grounded in some thoughtfulness and analysis.Thankfully, some industry leaders are starting to see that and speak up.

Related: SXSW 2017: What's Weird, Fun, Crazy and Amazing This Year

Do you see a blindspot when it comes to understanding politics among entrepreneurs?

American computer science grads often have very little exposure to the human condition. They've rarely had manual labor or service jobs. They grow up in a bubble of privilege lulled into thinking this country is a true meritocracy. A deep appreciation for politics comes from empathy for our fellow human beings and their diverse paths through life. Yet tech isn't exactly teeming with empathy these days.

You're a busy, busy man -- you don't need to do a session at SXSW. What would you like attendees to get from your session?

Since I don't have a boss or a PR group to make angry, I just hope the SXSW audience will take advantage of this opportunity to ask me anything and expect a legit reply.

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