At some point, I plan to write a blog post that ranks all of Shark Tank‘s guest sharks, because thinking about Shark Tank makes me happy. I don’t have a definitive ranking established yet, although I know who will come out on top: Chris Sacca.
Not just because he wore those cool cowboy shirts. But because he fit the program and added to the existing cast. My hope is that he’ll come back, although to have a ghost guest shark make a reappearance would be unprecedented.
(Note: the list of guest sharks doesn’t include Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner, since it’s hard to imagine them as anything other than part of the core cast.)
Guest sharks have a tough job. Since the show became really popular — given the Google Analytics from my old blogging gig at another website, I’d say that peaked in Season 6 — the Big 6 have been integral to the branding. It’s a nice, comfortable group, for viewers and, I would imagine, for entrepreneurs. It’s rare that someone would come in from the outside, sit in those chairs and act like they belong. Here’s why Sacca was able to do it so well.
He clearly wanted to be there.
When Sacca announced his retirement from venture capital investing — on and off television — Forbes reasoned that Sacca made the decision, “despite the investor’s obvious fondness for the limelight of TV and the ability to publicly spar with fellow billionaire Mark Cuban.”
Whether or not it was sheer love of being in front of the camera, Sacca really seemed to enjoy the entire Shark Tank experience. He didn’t fight the existing mold for a panelist and played the game exactly for what it is: a compressed, on-the-spot pitch that relies largely on first impressions instead of advance due diligence.
You could picture Sacca as a fan. He probably watched the show before snagging a (guest) spot in one of those chairs.
Sacca publicly confirmed he was in it for the show, not just the prestige. In an interview with Business Insider he compared Shark Tank to his off-camera investing through Lowercase Capital, saying the television experience was a bit more down-and-dirty.
“Shark Tank’ takes me back to all of the reasons of why I got into this business in the first place. 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.”
He asked good questions.
Sacca always seemed to understand that details were essential while assessing any pitch. He knew what to ask, and was good at posing the questions. He could be direct without being intimidating or mean. Other guest sharks would err on the side of kindness, knowing it’s a television program, not yet able to balance the fine line of being likeable on camera while still being a conscientious investor.
He was a credible voice of the gig economy.
Over the years on Shark Tank, viewers have seen the sharks make smarter investment decisions. It took a few years for them to establish which entrepreneurs might be a safe bet, or not. This isn’t just about developing a gut instinct for people; the sharks were putting money into new sectors of the economy they never had before.
Last year, Daymond John told an interviewer that he refused to invest in food during the first three seasons of Shark Tank. The reason? His five years as a server at Red Lobster before he made it big. His first hand experience with food waste (perishable assets) led him to conclude the entire sector was too risky. Ironically, some of his biggest Shark Tank successes ended up being food companies.
Chris Sacca is often described as a Silicon Valley investor, but he brings something different than Robert Herjavec (cyber security) or Mark Cuban. With early bets on Uber and Twitter, Sacca is intimately familiar with newer business models and the evolving nature of employment in the modern economy. It’s a familiarity not enjoyed by other members of the panel, even though they all have money.
He could fight and have the other sharks fight back.
Maybe it was just a Mark Cuban thing, but there was little home team courtesy when Sacca got into a shark fight. Somehow, it wasn’t annoying. It felt right, like it was precisely the tone of drama Shark Tank fans want to see.
There isn’t word yet on the guest sharks for Season 10. Filming started today, according to the core cast’s social media feeds. We know Alex Rodriguez will have another shot; maybe one day Sacca will decide he wants to get back into the investing game and will visit the set one more time.
[Chris Sacca image sourced on Flickr/The Next Web: https://www.flickr.com/photos/thenextweb/3501256667]