Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) — prominent venture capital fund led by Ben Horowitz and Marc Andreessen — announced Thursday the close of its third crypto venture fund, a $2.2 billion fund that the firm says is the largest of its kind.
The new “Crypto Fund III” will be co-led by Chris Dixon and Katie Haun.
“The largest crypto fund ever raised to date, Crypto Fund III is a validating moment for the ecosystem and another sign that crypto becoming an ever more mainstream part of our financial infrastructure,” the firm said in a press release.
Rumors of Andreessen Horowitz (also known as a16z) raising a mega-fund have appeared in various reports in recent months. The Financial Times reported in April that the California-based investment firm would be raising $1 billion for a crypto fund. In late May, tech blogger Eric Newcomer wrote that the firm was raising $2 billion.
A source familiar with the raise now told The Block that interest came mostly from limited partners in the firm’s previous crypto funds, which have seen large returns. a16z netted more than $440 million from selling Coinbase stock soon after the exchange made its public markets debut on Nasdaq, according to CoinDesk.
a16z’s mandate in crypto has been broad, ranging from decentralized finance (DeFi) to bitcoin applications to so-called Web 3, or a decentralized version of the internet. The firm’s portfolio includes Dapper Labs, Celo, Uniswap, and Near.
“This fund allows us to find the next generation of visionary crypto founders, and invest in the most exciting areas of crypto,” Dixon and Haun wrote in a blog post. “We invest in all stages, from early seed-stage projects to fully developed later-stage networks.”
In addition to securing more than $2 billion to invest in crypto, a16z’s crypto business has been hiring aggressively. It has made a number of key hires including Anthony Albanese, who joined the firm last year from the New York Stock Exchange. Albanese is now being promoted to chief operating officer of a16z crypto.
The firm also hired Bill Hinman, a former director at the Securities and Exchange Commission, who once said ether (ETH) is not a security, and Rachael Horowitz, a veteran Silicon Vally communications strategist who previously was the top communicator at Coinbase, also recently joined. Horowitz has also held positions at Twitter, Google, and Facebook.
Additional new hires include policymaker Tomicah Tilleman, who is joining the firm as global head of policy after serving as a senior advisor to President Joe Biden.
“As with any new computing movement, crypto has endured a variety of challenges and misconceptions,” Dixon and Haun said. “That’s why we are also bringing together heavy-hitters across several functions to help translate “crypto” to the mainstream.”
The announcement of Crypto Fund III follows a flurry of recent activity in crypto venture investing. Despite the slump in coin prices, investors have been raising large sums of cash to pour into new crypto startups.
Framework Ventures recently announced a $100 million new fund to invest in DeFi. Blockchain Capital, meanwhile, recently announced a new $300 million fund with backing from tech giants PayPal and Visa.
Data from The Block shows investors poured more than $8.8 billion into startups during 2021, compared with 3.07 billion in all of 2020.
Unfriendly Crypto Market Forces Crypto Exchange Luno to Trim Workforce
Crypto exchange platform Luno has trimmed its workforce by 35% following a turbulent year that rocked the crypto market.
The company has a total headcount of 960 team members according to its Linkedin profile, with its recent proposed layoff plan, the decision will impact more than 330 jobs at the company.
The company’s CEO Marcus Swanepoel in an Internal message shared with employees disclosed that the downsizing of its workforce was necessitated to enable the company effectively navigate the current crypto winter.
The message reads in part,
“As mentioned at our January kick-off earlier, it is with deep regret that I have to announce that we will be reducing our overall Luno team by 35%, impacting Lunauts in all of our regions.
“2022 has been an incredibly tough year for the broader tech industry and in particular the crypto market. Luno unfortunately hasn’t been immune to this turbulence, which has affected our overall growth and revenue numbers.
“As a result, we have to readjust our focus to maintaining our leadership position in our core markets, and continue to lay a stronger yet sustainable foundation for the business as we prepare to come out of this current cycle in a very strong position”.
The CEO further disclosed that the company’s decision will regrettably affect some of its smartest, kindest, and most hard-working team members.
Despite the collapse of one of crypto’s top exchange platforms FTX, which has sent shocking waves to the crypto industry, Luno disclosed that it was not affected even though its parent company Genesis Global faced liquidity pressures until it eventually filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Meanwhile, several crypto companies have been forced to slash their workforce following the FTX contagion. Companies such as Coinbase, Crypto.com, and Kraken have all slashed a significant part of their workforce.
Investors King understands that more than 30,000 jobs have been cut across the crypto industry since last year. So far in 2023, more than two crypto-related firms have implemented job cuts.
Binance CEO Accuses FTX of Paying $43 Million to Tarnish Binance Image
Founder and CEO of Binance, Changpeng Zhao (CZ) has accused FTX of spreading false information about his cryptocurrency exchange company, Binance.
Investors King reports that Zhao claimed that FTX paid the sum of $43 million to a news organisation that reports on cryptocurrency in order to produce negative publications and tarnish the image of Binance.
CZ discussed the Binance FUD during an ‘Ask Me Anything’ (AMA) session on Twitter.
The Binance Founder said some organisations have continuously generated and published negative news to improve their trade.
He noted that such a media firm with crypto skeptics like Peter Schiff who keeps criticizing its brand lacks understanding.
Zhao admitted that he usually read and pay attention to the false impression the negative articles create about Binance.
He however said, “I don’t think it’s going to stop, but I don’t think it’s going to bother us that much going forward. People have now come to their own judgments. They are pretty smart today, most people are no longer fooled by clickbait titles.”
FTX Trading Ltd. is a bankrupt company that previously operated a cryptocurrency exchange and crypto hedge fund with over one million users before it folded up in November, 2022, Investors King understands.
Speaking on the AI technology Binance is making use of, CZ stated that the technology is in use in many parts of the brand.
He added that the AI will be further employed within the blockchain industry to enhance data analysis and detect critical risk changes.
“For example, roughly 75% of Binance’s customer support is handled via AI, along with risk management, transaction monitoring, fraud detection, and market manipulation detection.
“With machine learning becoming more and more mature and more stronger, there will be more and more applications,” CZ said.
Crypto Exchange Platform Coinbase Records Uptick in Trading Volume
American crypto exchange platform Coinbase has recorded an uptick in its trading volume in the first few weeks of January.
Reports disclose that the crypto exchange stands out amongst other platforms that are currently witnessing declines in trading volumes.
Conibase recorded an increase of 0.3% when compared to the last quarter of 2022, which signals a change in the direction given that the exchange saw an ongoing decline in volume in 2022.
Meanwhile, almost all other exchanges recorded less trading when compared to previous quarters. Top crypto platform Binance saw a decline of 6.2% in average daily volume, while Bitfinex and Kraken saw declines of 25.5% and 13% respectively.
Following the surge in Coinbase trading volumes, analysts at JP Morgan wrote, “We think Coinbase has been cultivating a reputation as a reputable, trusted intermediary for some time. We think that reputation is helping to drive greater market share as activity levels rebound”.
While all other exchanges are still grappling with the ripple effects of FTX collapse which has triggered increased scrutiny over the unregulated exchange in the industry, analysts revealed that coinbase remains an exception due to the fact that it did not have direct exposure to FTX and was insulated from the direct legal and reputational fallout from its demise.
Investors King understands that due to the collapse of FTX in November last year, Coinbase shares declined to more than 8%, which extended a slide that pushed the crypto exchange to its lowest point since its market debut in 2021.
Also, nineteen months after going public with a market cap of over $85 billion, Coinbase fell below the $10 billion mark.
On the other hand, the collapse of FTX has no doubt sent shocking waves to the crypto industry, as it has affected the confidence of investors, which has seen crypto companies that customized assets with FTX currently facing crisis.
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