The Boost VC Podcast

Ep. 79: {Rebroadcast}: Returning the Power of the Internet to Its Users—Via Cryptocurrency with a16z VC Chris Dixon

Episode Summary

Chris is a general partner with VC firm Andreessen Horowitz. He has made several seed- and venture-stage investments for a16z, including BuzzFeed, Coinbase, Dispatch.ai, Oculus and Skydio. Chris is also an active angel investor, having made personal investments in tech companies like Foursquare, Kickstarter and Pinterest, among others. He has a background in programming and entrepreneurship, serving as the co-founder and CEO of SiteAdvisor, an internet security startup acquired by McAfee in 2006, as well as Hunch, a recommendation technology company acquired by eBay in 2011. Chris has an MBA from Harvard University.

Episode Notes

‘Who has the power of the internet? Does the power lie in the hands of a few centralized companies? Or does it lie in the hands of users and communities?’
We all know the answer here. Though the web initially gave authority to its users, the pendulum has swung the other way. Now there are four companies with all the data and all the power, and many would argue that they are using it in questionable ways. Chris Dixon believes that there is still a chance we can shift the power dynamics back to users and communities, and the answer lies in cryptocurrency.
Chris is a general partner with VC firm Andreessen Horowitz. He has made several seed- and venture-stage investments for a16z, including BuzzFeed, Coinbase, Dispatch.ai, Oculus and Skydio. Chris is also an active angel investor, having made personal investments in tech companies like Foursquare, Kickstarter and Pinterest, among others. He has a background in programming and entrepreneurship, serving as the co-founder and CEO of SiteAdvisor, an internet security startup acquired by McAfee in 2006, as well as Hunch, a recommendation technology company acquired by eBay in 2011. Chris has an MBA from Harvard University.

Chris joins us today to discuss the megatrends in technology of the last 15 and next 15 years, explaining how the current controversy around cryptocurrency stems from a dramatic misunderstanding of the space. He shares his insight on how blockchain technology has evolved and the ongoing work involving data ownership. Listen in for Chris’ profound take on our transition from the physical to the digital world and learn why cryptocurrency is a political movement intent on shifting the power of the internet back to users and communities.

Topics Covered

Chris’ background
Early interest in computers
Entrepreneur (securities, machine learning)
Active angel investor

The megatrends of the last 15 years
Mobile
Social
Cloud

Chris’ insight on future megatrends
Crypto
AI
New computing platforms

The controversy around crypto
Stems from dramatic misunderstanding of space
Early negative press (nefarious behavior, extremist views)

What crypto is really about
User controls own data
Breaking of monopolies

Chris’ take on private blockchains
Taking people away removes value
Useful in interorganizational use cases

Chris’ insight on how the space has evolved
Outperformed expectations, high level of innovation
Small blockers won block size debate
Wrong about ‘one crypto to rule them all’

Chris’ take on next steps
Core scaling work
Application layer (i.e.: non-fungible tokens, crypto-goods)

The laws of physics of the internet
Remixing culture

The work around data ownership in the crypto space
Use crypto networks to create marketplaces
Gives user control of own speech, health data

Why crypto is a political movement
Shift power of internet back to users, communities
Facilitate golden age, unlock economics of creativity
Architectural power of Web 2, but decentralized

The Andreessen Horowitz approach to investing in crypto
Buy and hold (five to ten years)
ICO = new way for modern VC

The transition from the physical to the digital world
Language assumes subordinance of digital world
Digital world matters (affected election outcome)
Digital is less tangible, but far more impactful

Chris’ definition of success
Personal—driven by desire to create
Societal—contribute to human welfare