Andreessen Horowitz taps Arianna Simpson to help run $2.2B crypto fund

Arianna Simpson, 30, is promoted to general partner at Andreessen Horowitz.

Source: Andreessen Horowitz

Andreessen Horowitz adds a new high profile partner to help deploy its $ 2.2 billion cryptocurrency fund.

30-year-old Arianna Simpson will be promoted from Deal Partner to General Partner around a year after joining, the company announced on Monday.

Simpson has become a celebrity in the cryptocurrency world. She left a global marketing job at Facebook and joined BitGo in her early 20s. Then, at the age of 24, she started her own venture capital firm to invest in blockchain and crypto companies. Friends and mentors advised against it.

“It was an unpopular decision,” Simpson told CNBC in an interview. “But the opportunity costs of not getting into this industry were just too high.”

Simpson said she was “overwhelmed” after reading Bitcoin’s whitepaper and thought it was “the most important innovation” of her life. She continued researching cryptocurrencies and tried to convince Facebook to start a crypto project before venturing into space with Libra, now Diem. It was “four to five years too early,” she said.

Simpson invested in a bear market early on. Bitcoin’s value fell by as much as 80% in early 2018 and most of the smaller cryptocurrencies followed suit. Her second company, Autonomous Partners, supported companies like Celo during these years, overlap with some of Andreessen’s early crypto games.

Navigating Bear Markets

Andreessen Horowitz entered the crypto space through his investment in Coinbase in 2013. It began raising dedicated funds for crypto three years ago during the bear market now known as “crypto winter”. Founded by Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz, the company announced its third fund in June. The latest fund, at $ 2.2 billion, is more than seven times larger than the first.

Simpson joins partners Ali Yahya and Katie Haun Chris Dixon, who led the company’s crypto efforts and met on Coinbase’s board of directors. Haun, a former Justice Department attorney, was investigating the now-defunct Mt.Gox cryptocurrency exchange and the Silk Road internet black market. Haun and Dixon compared the potential of the blockchain with the Internet and remain “radically optimistic”.

Simpson first connected with Haun through a direct message on Twitter.

“From the first moment I met Arianna a few years ago, I knew she was to be expected,” said Haun. “Her urge for crypto and for connecting people and ideas was immediately apparent over a coffee that turned into hours of conversation.”

The company holds stakes in companies driving the recent NFT boom, such as OpeanSea and Dapper Labs. Simpson highlighted the company’s focus on “decentralized finance”. The term known as “Defi” is used to describe traditional financial applications that are based on the same technology that underlies Bitcoin. She also pointed to investing in less obvious crypto-related categories like games.

While categories like NFTs and Defi have soared this year, Bitcoin price has halved from its all-time high of over $ 60,000 in April. Simpson said private investment prices can be a “lagging indicator – not a leading indicator.”

“You really have to separate short-term pricing from what’s fundamentally built – we just ignore the headlines and just focus on the technology,” she said. “Bear markets are often where the real work takes place.”

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