by Cindy Huynh
Andreessen Horowitz recently launched a16z crypto, a $300 million venture fund focused on investing in cryptocurrency startups and protocols. The internationally-known venture capital (VC) firm has also brought in their first female general partner, former federal prosecutor Kathryn (Katie) Haun, to grow their cryptocurrency investment efforts.
Andreessen Horowitz has a history of investing in cryptocurrency companies, including blockchain game maker Cryptokitties and the cryptocurrency exchange, Coinbase. The a16z fund, however, expands the company’s options for investments. According to Wired, the fund will allow the VC firm to make more flexible investments, along with the ability to invest not only in cryptocurrency-related entities but in digital tokens and cryptocurrencies created by those companies as well.
The a16z fund signals a large milestone for the cryptocurrency industry. Andreessen Horowitz is one of the largest VC firms internationally. Support from the Silicon Valley-based VC firm adds greater legitimacy to the cryptocurrency industry. Recode noted that the a16z fund is a big move for the VC industry as well, especially since other VCs are closely “scrutinizing the firm,” and assessing whether they should launch similar funds focused on cryptocurrency investments.
Crypto Fund Will Invest in Startups, Digital Currencies, and ICOs
In a recent blogpost, Andreessen Horowitz indicates that the crypto fund will be a long-term investment for the VC firm. Chris Dixon, a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, said of the firm’s existing investments in crypto assets:
“We’ve never sold any of those investments, and don’t plan to anytime soon. We structured the a16z crypto fund to be able to hold investments for 10+ years…We plan to invest consistently over time, regardless of market conditions. If there is another ‘crypto winder,’ we’ll keep investing aggressively.”
In an interview with TechCrunch, Dixon stated that the VC firm has made approximately 20 cryptocurrency investments in the last five years. Ripple was their first investment in 2013. The next investment was in Coinbase, followed by 21.co which became Earn.com, then Open Bazaar, and Mediachain, among others.
While the a16z fund is flexible for startups in regards to their stages, asset type, and geography, Dixon noted that the VC fund is “focused on non-speculative use” cases. The VC firm is looking for “services powered by crypto protocol” that will eventually be used by millions of people internationally.
Andreessen Horowitz Hires its First Female General Partner
While Katie Haun has no formal VC experience, she has a range of experience in the cryptocurrency sector. She was responsible for the government’s first cryptocurrency task force and led investigations of the Silk Road network, as well as the 2014 Mt. Gox heist.
Apart from spending a decade as a federal prosecutor with the US Department of Justice on cases concerning fraud, cyber, and corporate crime, Haun sits on the board of both Coinbase and HackerOne. She previously taught cybercrime at Stanford Law and currently teaches a class on cryptocurrencies at Stanford Business School. “Leaving the government really enabled me to double down on this,” said Haun in an interview. Haun’s experience and expertise with crypto will be extremely useful for the a16z fund, especially since there are many uncertainties that remain in the cryptocurrency sector.