While a lot of his investments are globally focused, Polis still invests in his hometown of Boulder. Along with a stake in his family’s business, he lists dozens of assets including Internet services, energy-related online games, food services and outdoor recreation companies.
Polis doesn’t invest just in startups; he’s also pushing his fellow members to do the same. In a recent op-ed in Roll Call, the Colorado Democrat pleaded for congressional support and promotion of startups. Polis teamed up with fellow Democrat Gary Peters of Michigan and Republicans Darrell Issa of California and Vern Buchanan of Florida to form the Congressional Caucus on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. (Issa and Buchanan are also among the wealthiest members of Congress.)
In his op-ed, Polis wrote, “As we struggle to regain our economic footing, now more than ever, we need American innovators and entrepreneurs to help drive our country — and our world — forward.”
He knows how successful startups can be, considering he founded an online branch of his family’s greeting card business and ProFlowers.com.
His family fortune wasn’t made until the dot-com era. Former physicist-turned-artist Stephen Schutz and his journalist-turned-poet wife Susan Polis Schutz started the Blue Mountain greeting card and poetry publisher in 1994, when their son Jared was a student at Princeton University. The younger Polis was executive director of the private company when it was sold to Excite@Home for $780 million at the height of the dot-com bubble in 1999. Two years later, Excite@Home sold it to American Greetings for $35 million — 4.5 percent of its original purchase price. This influx of cash helped launch Polis’ career in venture capitalism.
Members of Congress are required to disclose personal statements of wealth as regulated by the STOCK Act of 2012. Polis was a co-sponsor of the legislation and is still supportive of it. He said in a statement provided to CQ Roll Call, “While the old disclosure laws provided a certain level of transparency, the new laws under the Stock Act provide more timely and complete information about the investments of members of Congress. The Stock Act was a major step forward.”
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., takes a selfie with his cut-out head during the Hoops for Youth 16th annual charity basketball game held at George Washington University's Smith Center, September 8, 2014. The members of Congress team beat the lobbyist team 46-40. Buy photo here.