Indicating its belief in blockchain/cryptocurrency developers and entrepreneurs, venture capital (VC) firm Andreessen Horowitz (also called a16z) announced on Monday the launch of a $300 million investment fund, a16z crypto. The dedicated fund will allow a16z to bypass a frustrating cap that most VC funds face today. As recode explained last week, VC funds are "legally limited to hold no more than 20 percent of their money in assets that are liquid securities, such as cryptocurrencies."
Thus far, the newly-announced fund has not made any investments. "We're in process with a few, but nothing that's been finalized," general partner Chris Dixon told TechCrunch. That said, a16z (the broader firm) has backed Filecoin and Basis among other projects.
Yesterday, a16z also welcomed its newest general partner, Kathryn ("Katie") Haun. She is a cryptocurrency veteran who was the Department of Justice's "first-ever coordinator of digital assets." While with the DOJ, Haun led investigations into the MtGox hack and the corrupt federal agents on the Silk Road taskforce. Currently, she serves on Coinbase's board of directors and lectures at Stanford's Graduate School of Business. Haun is the first woman to become a GP at Andreessen Horowitz and one of two women on the a16z crypto team (the other is Hilary Kivitz, who also has a legal background).
In a post about Haun on the firm's blog, a16z co-founder Ben Horowitz appropriately quoted Nicki Minaj's "Chun-Li."
"How many of them could've did it with finesse? Now everybody like, 'she really is the best.'"
Note: If you enjoy Horowitz's love of rap as much as I do, then I recommend his book, "The Hard Thing About Hard Things." It's full of clever music references and provides an informative survey of management strategies for software companies.
While a16z crypto's investments are still on the horizon, readers may remember that the firm was a central figure at an April meeting between VC firms and the SEC's Division of Corporation Finance. At the time, the Wall Street Journal reported that a16z and Union Square Ventures sought "formal assurance" that the blockchain/cryptocurrency projects they invested in would not be subject to SEC regulation. Earlier this month, ETHNews reported when the division's leader, William Hinman, said he believes that Ether is not a security (at least, presently).
In May, we revisited a CFTC podcast episode, which featured commentary from a16z general partner Alex Rampell. He weighed in on blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and initial coin offerings.
Lastly, it's just worth recognizing a16z's own shoutout to Ethereum. The firm wrote, "Smart contract platforms like Ethereum enable the creation of, among other things, application-specific currencies, digital property rights, open financial instruments, and software-based organizations."