Enterprise capital agency Andreessen Horowitz is bringing in its first feminine basic companion, former federal prosecutor Katie Haun, to assist handle a brand new $300 million fund devoted to investing in cryptocurrency and blockchain-related tasks.
Andreessen Horowitz has lengthy invested in cryptocurrency corporations, together with the digital-wallet firm Coinbase and the sport firm Cryptokitties. However along with signaling its seriousness in regards to the expertise, basic companion Chris Dixon says that making a fund will give the agency extra flexibility to make several types of investments. The brand new fund will make investments not simply in conventional equities, however in digital tokens as nicely. In different phrases, it’ll make investments not simply in corporations however within the cryptocurrencies these corporations create. An Andreessen Horowitz spokesperson mentioned traders within the fund are among the many agency’s traditional traders.
Haun bought her begin in cryptocurrency by investigating two of its best-known scandals: two federal brokers convicted on corruption expenses throughout their very own investigation of the black market website Silk Highway, and the implosion of the bitcoin trade service Mt. Gox. In 2015, she established the federal government’s first cryptocurrency process drive to assist the federal government get up-to-speed on the expertise.
“In that process I ended up working alongside and getting to know the entrepreneurs in that space,” she says. “I started realizing how transformative all this technology was.”
She additionally began educating Stanford Regulation Faculty’s first cryptocurrency course in 2015, and because the expertise grew and new tasks emerged, she needed to get extra concerned. So she left her job in authorities and joined the board of Coinbase in 2017, the place she bought to know the companions at Andreessen Horowitz.
Regardless of her background as a prosecutor, Haun says she’s not at Andreessen Horowitz to root out fraudulent cryptocurrency tasks however reasonably to work on good tasks. Nonetheless, her authorized experience may very well be a serious asset to each the agency and to the businesses it funds.
VC corporations are nonetheless looking for their function in cryptocurrency amidst authorized uncertainties and the rise of the brand new fashion of funding known as “initial coin offerings,” or ICOs. Throughout an ICO, the makers of a brand new cryptocurrency pre-sell sure quantities of their digital tokens to traders, serving to fund the creation of their expertise with out essentially promoting possession stakes within the firm to enterprise capitalists. The creation of a devoted fund by Andreessen Horowitz, one of many best-known corporations in Silicon Valley, will add legitimacy to the nascent business.
ICOs have raised greater than $11.four billion thus far this yr in keeping with the web site CoinSchedule. Some cryptocurrency corporations have pursued hybrid fashions. For instance, the decentralized storage and publishing firm Protocol Labs pre-sold $52 million in cryptocurrency tokens to advisers together with VC corporations like Andreessen Horowitz, Sequoia, and Union Sq., earlier than providing an ICO to accredited traders that raised an extra $205 million.
Dixon says the agency is ready to supply entrepreneurs issues that an ICO cannot. “We have 80 people in our operating team whose job it is to support the companies we invest in and we have people here with deep expertise in regulatory issues, recruiting, marketing, general management, et cetera,” he says. “We think the onus is on us to prove that we are indeed great partners to entrepreneurs and as long as we do that entrepreneurs will want to work with us.”