Our experts tell us what you need to know about the cryptocurrency division of venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. And what startups and technologies the company is allocating more than $7 billion to
The a16z crypto portfolio has dozens of crypto projects. And among them are both established players and startups that are still building infrastructure. The company’s early bet on Coinbase, the second largest crypto exchange, turned out to be one of the best in the history of venture capital funds. Though it came with very specific allegations of insider trading. The fund invested in leading decentralized exchange Uniswap, NFT marketplace OpenSea and large infrastructure blockchain project Alchemy.
This year, the company has led several multimillion-dollar investment rounds for various crypto projects. Among them, for example, is a $25 million round by Here Not There Labs. Which is developing the Towns protocol for group chat rooms. And which are blockchain-based and use end-to-end message encryption.
A recent nearly $30 million investment round closed the Story Protocol project from the developers of the Radish Fiction app, which was bought out by Korea’s Kakao. Andreessen Horowitz’s cryptocurrency division also led the round. Although it had previously invested $10 million in the project. A $40 million round led by the fund was also completed by blockchain game developer CCP Games.
Probably the main crypto-investment of the company this year was the project LayerZero.
Its developers, led by a16z, closed a $120 million round, after which the valuation of the company behind it, LayerZero Labs, jumped to $3 billion. The total amount of venture capital investment in the project. Which creates an infrastructure for exchanging data between ecosystems that are isolated from each other. And built on different blockchains, exceeds $250 million.
Other projects in the fund’s portfolio with more than $100 million in investments include Optimism, Aleo, Matter Labs (developer of the zkSync solution) and several others. From the last two, as well as from LayerZero, the cryptocurrency community expects to launch tokens. And to conduct airdrops following the example of Arbitrum. Or the same Optimism, but none of the companies have yet announced plans to issue their own assets.
Problems and failures
Despite its scale and strong market position, a16z faced problems in 2022, as did the entire cryptosphere. In October, The Wall Street Journal sources reported that the value of the company’s cryptocurrency fund fell 40%. And that’s noticeably more than other avenues. This was recorded even before the general collapse of the crypto market. Which was triggered by the bankruptcy of the FTX exchange.
Some of the fund’s biggest investments probably didn’t justify themselves. Among them is Helium, a mobile WiFi hotspot startup. In April, the company announced it was moving its infrastructure from its own blockchain to the Solana network. And the HT token trades only on second-tier crypto exchanges. And judging by the price movement, it’s not much in demand.
Another example from our experts is Dfinity. It’s a project that was rebranded as Internet Computer. Which raised $100 million from a16z in 2017. But it did not actually produce any product. And investor funds were invested mainly in a marketing campaign. However, given the success of other projects in the fund’s portfolio. And the financial return from investing in them will surely be able to outweigh the losses from unsuccessful investments.