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Andreessen Horowitz is preparing to launch a separate fund for crypto investments

Posted job listings reveal that the firm is hiring for a “separately managed fund focusing on crypto assets.”

Ben Horowitz and Marc Andreessen
Ben Horowitz (left) and Marc Andreessen (right)
C Flanigan and Michael Kovac / Getty Images

Andreessen Horowitz, one of the leading venture capital firms when it come to investing in digital currencies, is preparing to launch a separate fund to buy and sell crypto assets, Recode has learned.

The move could be a significant broadening of the high-profile firm’s mission, and would serve as another big industry moment as investors seek to capitalize on the flurry of activity in cryptocurrencies, which some see as the next wave of innovation. Andreessen Horowitz has invested in blockchain companies like Coinbase, in crypto-specific funds like Polychain Capital and in initial coin offerings, but, as a fund, it has not yet publicly traded the actual assets like bitcoin.

Andreessen Horowitz declined to comment.

Two job listings posted on Andreessen’s website say that the firm is hiring for a “separately managed fund focusing on crypto assets.” Andreessen has so far only invested out of two types of funds: One for early- and late-stage startups, the latest closed in 2016 totaling $1.5 billion; and one for bio investing, which last year equipped the firm with $450 million to invest in a specific class of companies.

The job postings did not specify how much this fund would gather under management or when it would begin investing. Andreessen Horowitz also doesn’t define “assets” in the job postings, so it’s possible that the firm could choose to run its token- and blockchain-related startup investing out of this pool of capital, as well. Plus, the industry could look very different in just a few years.

But the listings for a legal counsel and for a finance and operations manager do spell out some details:

  • The lawyer would be responsible for making sure Andreessen Horowitz’s crypto investments are SEC-compliant. The firm acknowledges that this person would need to “operate in an area where the regulatory, legal and business climate remains largely unsettled.”
  • The finance manager would help Andreessen Horowitz collect money from its limited partners — a “capital call,” in the parlance of the industry. One key challenge for this role, according to the posting, would be to help the firm assign a valuation to its crypto assets, which isn’t easy given how volatile some cryptocurrencies have proven to be.

Venture capital firms have been generally skittish about investing in cryptocurrencies directly, with some saying that their limited partners could very well do so without their help (and avoid the fees that they’d have to pay to the venture capital firms to do it for them). Other conservative limited partners are worried about the regulatory risks of the entire sector.

But few funds have a track record in this space like Andreessen Horowitz, which is one of the most active venture capital firms in cryptocurrency investing, under a team led by general partners Chris Dixon and Alex Rampell, who are looked to in Silicon Valley as guiding lights for understanding the asset class. Andreessen Horowitz investments in addition to Coinbase range from well-known companies like Ripple to newer deals like CryptoKitties.

That being said, some investors believe there’s a lot more money to be made and faster in the currencies themselves than in the companies that are merely organized around them.

Firms also sometimes launch special themed funds in order to attract a certain type of limited partner. Andreessen’s bio fund might appeal to endowments that are particularly passionate about funding investments in health and life sciences. And investors in Andreessen’s crypto fund are likely to be big believers in digital assets — or at least are comfortable with some risk in an uncertain legal and financial environment.

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