It's official: Tech billionaire Bijan Sabet nominated as US ambassador to Prague

The ambassadorial post has been vacant since the end of Donald Trump’s term as US president. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 04.08.2022 11:38:00 (updated on 04.08.2022) Reading time: 3 minutes

U.S. President Joe Biden has nominated billionaire tech investor Bijan Sabet to become the next ambassador to the Czech Republic. The position has been vacant since Joe Biden took over as president on Jan. 20, 2021. The move is not a surprise, as word of the nomination leaked at the start of July.

Sabet briefly acknowledged the nod. “Incredibly honored and grateful to be nominated by President Biden as US Ambassador to the Czech Republic,” he said on Twitter.

The U.S. Embassy in Prague also welcomed the news. “We are pleased that President Biden announced his intention to nominate Bijan Sabet as Ambassador to the Czech Republic. It demonstrates a strong friendship between the U.S. and the Czech Republic. The nomination must now be approved by the U.S. Senate,” the embassy said on Twitter.

Since the previous ambassador Steve King, who was appointed by then-president Donald Trump, ended his term in office, the U.S. Embassy has been headed by a chargés d’affaires ad interim. Currently, that post is held by career diplomat Michael Dodman.

Sabet is co-founder and a general partner of venture capital firm Spark Capital, which manages over $6 six billion across venture and venture growth funds. Prior to co-founding Spark Capital in 2005, he worked as a senior executive in technology startup companies in California, and Massachusetts. He is also on the Board of Trustees of Boston College, from which he earned a Bachelor of Science degree.

“Throughout his career, Sabet has focused on helping technology entrepreneurs reach their potential and build important global companies,” the White House said in a statement.

Spark Capital was an early investor in Twitter in 2007 when the social media firm had just 10 employees. The firm also made early-stage investments in Wayfair, Cruise Automotive, Oculus, Slack, Tumblr, Warby Parker, Discord, and Stack Overflow. In 2017, Sabet was ranked 89 on Forbes' list of Top Tech Investors.

Sabet, a member of the Democratic party, was reportedly a contributor to Biden's campaign for president. While most countries appoint career diplomats to ambassadorial posts, presidents in the U.S. tend to use them as rewards for campaign organizers and donors, or for long-term party insiders.

Former ambassador King had long been active in the Republican Party, representing the state of Wisconsin in the Republican National Committee. He also ran an equity investment and real estate company. Before him, the U.S. ambassador was Andrew H. Schapiro, an attorney who was involved in fundraising for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.

Sabet on Twitter in 2020 recounted how he and his wife met Biden at a campaign event. “We only had a few moments with Joe Biden as a line was forming behind us with various folks wanting his attention. But it was a moment I won't forget. The man is all heart,” Sabet said.

Sabet’s father-in-law had been a police chief in Biden’s home state of Delaware, and Biden remembered him. Biden reminisced briefly with Sabet’s wife, Lauren, about her father.

The Czech Republic has been lacking a U.S. ambassador at a critical time. The country currently holds the rotating six-month presidency of the Council of the European Union. It has also been heavily involved in lending military and other support to Ukraine to help it fend off the invasion by Russian forces.

The Czech Republic has also recently decided to acquire U.S.-made F-35 fighter jets to replace its fleet of Swedish-made Gripens. Another major deal is the expansion of the nuclear power plant in Dukovany. U.S. firm Westinghouse is one of the three finalists competing for the lucrative contract to build a new reactor unit.

Sabet’s nomination was on a list that also included new ambassadors to Rwanda and Turkmenistan, as well as several other posts such as director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and national archivist. All of the appointments still need to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Would you like us to write about your business? Find out more