27 June, 2018
Venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz announced on Monday that it has appointed Kathryn Haun its first female general partner. Along with top crypto investor Chris Dixon, she will co-lead a16z crypto, a new $300 million fund that will invest in blockchain and cryptocurrency companies, coins, and protocols.
Big moment for diversity
While the new crypto fund represents a major milestone for venture capital’s foray into the crypto world—and for crypto development in general—it’s also a big moment for diversity. In its nine-year history, Andreessen Horowitz has not appointed a female general partner until now. And overnight, Haun has become one of the world’s most powerful investors in tech.
Haun’s highly qualified background includes serving on the board of Coinbase, a popular cryptocurrency exchange, and lecturing at Stanford University on topics like regulation in the crypto space. She made a name for herself as a federal prosecutor, leading the Mt. Gox investigation as well as the probe into federal agents accused of corruption on the Silk Road task force. While she has no formal venture capital experience, she has made some investments of her own both in and out of crypto.
In Haun’s view, Andreessen Horowitz stands out as an “early believer in crypto” and “continuous learning,” which attracted her to the firm. On the issue of lack of diversity, she notes, “Like anything, I think it’s something that can be improved, but I don’t think it’s unique to crypto, and it’s certainly not unique to tech. […] There are a lot of great females in the space.”
Dedicated fund for crypto
Andreessen Horowitz had revealed earlier this spring that it was working to create a fund that focuses solely on crypto-related deals. Although the firm has been investing in blockchain projects for several years now, this new fund reflects an effort to assemble a base of investors who want to put their money in crypto specifically.
Venture capital funds are also legally limited to holding no more than 20 percent of their assets in liquid securities like cryptocurrencies, and Andreessen’s existing fund had “basically run up close” to that number, explains Dixon, co-lead manager of a16z crypto. In a recent blog post, he states that the new fund will focus on “non-speculative use cases,” and that the team behind it wants “services powered by crypto protocols to be used by hundreds of millions and eventually billions of people.”
Photo credit: Andreessen Horowitz