Armstrong: Uber investment saved him; Weisel hasn’t been honest
Lance Armstrong spoke with Andrew Ross Sorkin on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” show Thursday, revealing that an unplanned investment in ride sharing company Uber saved his family from financial ruin. Armstrong also accused former team investor Thom Weisel of being dishonest in his deposition for the federal whistleblower case that ended this year.
Armstrong invested in Uber nearly a decade ago indirectly through a venture capital fund, and he admitted he didn’t initially realize the ride-sharing company was part of the portfolio.
“Probably around ’08 or ’09, [Chris Sacca] left to start his own venture capital fund called Lowercase Capital,” Armstrong said. “And he called me and said, ‘Looking for investors. Would you invest?’ And I’m thinking to myself, ‘This guy has a huge personality, but he’s also very smart and very well-connected. Why not?’ So I invested in Chris Sacca. I didn’t even know that he did Uber. I thought he was buying up a bunch of Twitter shares from employees or former employees and the biggest investment in Lowercase fund one was Uber.”
Armstrong’s initial investment in Lowercase Capital was $100,000. Ross Sorkin pressed Armstrong to reveal how much his investment was now worth, asking “What are we talking? Ballpark. … Ten, 20, 30, 40, $50 million?”
“It’s one of those. It’s a lot. It’s a lot. It’s saved our family,” Armstrong replied.
In April 2018, Armstrong settled the federal case against him for $5 million.
Ross Sorkin also asked Armstrong questions about Thom Weisel, who funded Armstrong’s U.S. Postal Service team but escaped sanctions in the recently settled whistleblower case.
“Thom’s [Weisel] an interesting guy. And I’m not here to tell on people or throw them under the bus. But yeah, Thom hasn’t been honest,” Armstrong said. “We’ll leave it at that. He just hasn’t been honest with the press. He wasn’t honest in his deposition in the Postal case. He’s just not honest.
“He’s, kind of, the yellow jersey when it comes to this,” Armstrong added when pressed about whether anyone else compared to Weisel in this regard.
Armstrong also critiqued former sponsor Nike for having a double-standard in how it dealt with other controversial sponsored athletes. He cited retired baseball player Alex Rodriguez, who was suspended one season in 2014 for steroid use, and golf star Tiger Woods, whose infidelities and domestic troubles made headlines for years.
“I do think there’s a double standard. But I’m okay with it. A-Rod [Rodriguez] didn’t raise half a billion dollars and try to save a bunch of people’s lives,” Armstrong said, referring to his Livestrong Foundation. “I mean, that’s kind of the irony in this. But, A-Rod was a baseball player. What I’m getting at is this story meant so much more to society. Right? And look, it’s great when somebody hits home runs and you know, maybe does an event here and there for the Girls and Boys Club. But this story held a place in people’s hearts and minds that was way beyond those guys.”
Armstrong said that, compared to Rodriguez and Woods, his lifetime ban from cycling is why Nike pulled its sponsorship.
“If what happened to Tiger the next day, they said, ‘Hey, buddy. I’m sorry, but we’re taking all the golf clubs. You can never hit a ball every again on TV, in a tournament, ever.’ [Nike] would not have stood by him. I promise you,” Armstrong added.