A16z Moves to Place Bigger Bets on High-Risk Assets – Including Crypto

Nikhilesh De
Apr 2, 2019 at 20:45 UTC
Updated Apr 4, 2019 at 09:39 UTC
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Andreessen Horowitz can now back crypto startups with potentially up to $1 billion, after reportedly making some recent internal changes.

The company’s founders – Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz – told Forbes that the firm had applied to become a registered investment advisor, so as to allow it to place larger bets and invest more heavily into high-risk asset classes, such as cryptocurrencies.

As such, a16z is shifting away from being a traditional venture capital firm.

According to Forbes, the company can now put as much as $1 billion in these riskier bets, such as cryptocurrency or other digital assets. The firm can also “buy unlimited shares in public companies or from other investors,” under current U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rules.

As a VC firm, Andreessen Horowitz would not be able to invest as heavily in these riskier assets due to regulations. Specifically, under SEC rules, no more than 20 percent of a VC fund could be invested in “high-risk” assets. This included secondary share purchases, Forbes reported.

The shift was completed in March, and required the firm to hire some new compliance officers, as well as audit each of its employees.

However, general partner Katie Haun (who co-leads its crypto-specific fund) told Forbes that the shift also brings a number of benefits, including the fact that partners in the firm can collaborate on deals.

This allows them to pool expertise, according to the report.

The firm has already invested heavily within the crypto space. To date, it has backed crypto exchange Coinbase, stablecoin developer TrustToken, cloud computing platform Oasis Labs and other startups. More recently, it launched its own crypto-specific wing with more than $300 million.

Reached by CoinDesk Tuesday, a spokesperson for Andreessen Horowitz declined to comment.

UPDATE (April 3, 23:00 UTC): This article has been updated to note that a16z itself is becoming a registered investment advisor, not its individual employees.

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