“I am extremely honored and grateful that President Biden has nominated me for the position of United States Ambassador to the Czech Republic,” tweeted Bijan Sabet on Wednesday evening of our time.
If his nomination is approved by the Senate, the fifty-three-year-old millionaire will soon move into Petschka’s villa in Prague’s Bubenč. And the world’s most powerful country will once again be fully represented in the Czech Republic after the interim charge d’affaires Michael Dodman. It must be said that it was about time, because the appointment of the ambassador has been waiting for more than a year.
Now it has been decided: the United States should be represented here by a man who made millions of dollars investing in start-ups. A fan of the New York Yankees baseball team and a father of three children, who in his spare time travels the world with an old Rolleiflex binoculars and tries to capture the harsh beauty of Icelandic nature, lazy summer afternoons in Roman cafes or the azure sea of the Lesser Antilles (you can see his photos from his travels here).
And also a great idealist who last year decided to step down from the management of his investment group Spark Capital to have more time for philanthropy and politics. From the posts on his blog, it is clear how deeply he feels about school shootings, the fight for equal access to voting rights or the recent ruling that overturned the constitutional right to abortion.
Dinner with Obama for $35,000
The Boston College graduate worked his way through a number of tech companies in Silicon Valley and Massachusetts after his studies. Seventeen years ago, he co-founded the investment company Spark Capital, which focused on risk investments in start-ups.
The Boston-based company soon managed to acquire a stake in the social networks Twitter and Tumblr, which today have hundreds of millions of users. It has also successfully invested in other well-known applications such as FourSquare or Trello, as well as in the communication platform Slack or the game studio OMGPOP.
In 2017, Bijan Sabet thus earned the 89th place in the so-called King Midas Ranking, compiled by Forbes magazine as a list of the most influential and successful investors in the technology sector.
He also received recognition for the fact that at one time he rejected a very generous offer from Facebook to take over Twitter. Today, he again criticizes Elon Musk very sharply for his maneuvers with the purchase of a well-known social network and loudly calls for the eccentric billionaire to pay a billion dollars as compensation for withdrawing from the transaction.
What made him deserve the post of ambassador to the Czech Republic is not so difficult to guess. He has long been among the generous donors of the Democratic Party, over the past year he has sent more than three hundred thousand dollars to Democrats and political committees connected to them.
His support for the Democratic Party is longstanding. Ten years ago, he paid $35,800 to attend dinner with Barack Obama. After all, the latter still remains his great political idol – Sabet confesses that he gets goosebumps when reading his memoirs, entitled The Promised Land.
It should be noted that rewarding party sponsors with ambassadorships is not unusual in American politics. Democrats and Republicans have been doing it for a long time, much to the chagrin of professional diplomats, who say it’s basically institutionalized corruption weakening US foreign policy.
Even the progressive wing of the Democratic Party rebelled against the long-standing practice during the Trump administration. Indeed, after Biden’s victory, the State Department promised that embassies would be at least 70 percent staffed by career diplomats.
However, according to a report by the respected Foreign Policy portal last December, it remained only with promises. People who qualified primarily by the amount of their campaign contributions were appointed to embassies in Greece, Kenya, Argentina, Belgium, Slovenia or Canada.
The nomination of Bijan Sabet thus confirms that even the Biden administration could not say goodbye to years of practice. “They shamelessly view ambassadorships as a party reward,” he complained for Foreign Policy an unnamed American diplomat.