cryptocurrencies

Legendary venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz is preparing to launch a new fund that will invest exclusively in cryptocurrencies and other related endeavors.

Tech news outlet Recode reports that the prominent Silicon Valley firm is hiring staff for a “separately managed fund focusing on crypto assets,” which will be the VC’s first dedicated solely to this nascent industry.

That said, Andreessen is no stranger to cryptoasset investing. The firm has invested in cryptocurrency unicorns Coinbase and Ripple, as well as smaller ventures such as CryptoKitties, one of the most popular Ethereum-based decentralized applications (DApps). Andreessen has also provided backing to Polychain Capital, one of the larger cryptocurrency hedge funds.

Little else is known about the new fund, including how large it will be and whether “crypto assets” refers to cryptocurrencies and tokens exclusively or also includes cryptocurrency companies.

Notably, one of the positions for which Andreessen is hiring is a lawyer, who will be responsible for navigating the murky regulatory environment around cryptoassets. In particular, he or she will determine whether prospective investments are compliant with Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulations.

In March, representatives from Andreessen Horowitz attended a meeting with SEC officials along with fellow members of an industry working group. Sources familiar with the meeting — which was also attended by representatives from Union Square Ventures — said that the working group pressed the SEC to provide formal guidance that ethereum and a number of initial coin offering (ICO) tokens are not securities under federal law, but the agency was hesitant to grant this broad exemption.

The other new hire, a finance manager, will assist the firm in collecting investments from its limited partners. He or she will also face the difficult challenge of assigning valuations to prospective cryptoasset investments — a tall order given the novelty of the space.

Andreessen has not yet announced the new fund publicly.

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Blockchain

Venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and hedge fund company Polychain Capital are investing $61 million into a non-profit organization that wants to develop a decentralized ‘Internet computer’ using the blockchain.

Swiss-based DFINITY Stiftung has announced that $21 million of the $61 million will go toward the development of the network, with the rest of the funding allocated to DFINITY’s Ecosystem Venture Fund, reports Reuters.

According to its website, DFINITY is ‘building a new kind of public decentralized cloud computing resource,’ which ‘rests upon a new blockchain computer that is similar in concept to Ethereum but has vastly improved performance and, ultimately, unlimited capacity.’

The funding invested by Silicon Valley VC firm Andreessen Horowitz (A16Z) and San Francisco-based Polychain Capital brings the total project funding to over $100 million.

Speaking to Business Insider, Dominic Williams, DFINITY’s president and chief scientist, said that DFINITY’s next-generation technology will allow applications and companies to be built on a decentralized ‘cloud 3.0.’

We’re building a system that will enable the Internet to act as a giant computer, he said. It will be an open protocol, it won’t be supported by a company, it will be supported by whoever connects their computers to that protocol.

Williams states that the Internet computer is interesting for a number of reasons: it can host traditional business systems by acting as a cloud and it will provide an alternative hosting platform compared to Amazon or Google Cloud.

It will provide a different kind of technology stack, he added. The total cost of ownership of these business systems will be dramatically lower.

According to the website, supporting human capital required could see costs cut by as much as 90 percent.

In addition to businesses, Williams is hoping that decentralized applications will be built on the DFINITY network, such as Uber, Dropbox, or eBay, according to a company statement.

The DFINITY team is truly exceptional, said Ryan Zurer, Venture Partner at Polychain. What DFINITY is building represents one of the most important technological innovations that we have ever seen since the very creation of the blockchain.

Some of the funding is also expected to go toward creating a ‘NASA for decentralization.’

Williams explained that with millions of companies on the Internet computer it requires a ‘team of thousands of people’ to analyze the performance of the computer as well as search for security threats.

The team is hoping for a beta version of the network to be up and running later this year.

Featured image from Shutterstock.