February 29, 2024

Andreessen Horowitz partner Marc Andreessen

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LONDON — Andreessen Horowitz is opening its first office outside of the U.S. in London, the venture capital firm announced Monday.

Andreessen Horowitz, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm that has backed leading tech companies from Airbnb to Coinbase, said it was looking to take advantage of what it sees as a more welcoming environment for crypto entrepreneurs in the U.K. The firm believes that the U.K. will become a global leader in crypto, blockchain and digital currencies.

The U.S. has been cracking down on the crypto industry lately, with the Securities and Exchange Commission announcing lawsuits against crypto titans Binance and Coinbase last week. Essentially, the SEC is arguing that many crypto tokens should be classified as securities, which would subject them to much stricter oversight and transparency requirements.

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The U.K. earlier this yea also proposed its first formal regulations of the crypto industry, seeking to clamp down on practices in the industry in the wake of the collapse of FTX, a crypto exchange once worth $32 billion. Many crypto investors say this would provide more clarity, particularly as they are facing heightened uncertainty in the U.S.

“The prime minister’s leadership is critical, but we have seen a wonderful openness to the promise of the technology, as well as a strong interest in whatever regulatory regime comes online, focusing on consumer protection,” Brian Quintenz, head of policy at Andreessen Horowitz, told CNBC in an interview.

“Frankly I don’t think this current administration in United States is doing either — it’s a moment in a time when the U.K. acts nimbly and quickly, but robustly.”

Sriram Krishnan, an ex-Twitter employee who joined Andreessen Horowitz as a general partner, will relocate to London to head up the firm’s office there, Quintenz said.

Andreessen Horowitz also plans to launch its first crypto startup school in the U.K. in a bid to identify future talent in the crypto and Web3 space. The firm launched a school to coach entrepreneurs on building blockchain and cryptocurrency companies in 2019.

Andreessen Horowitz has been one of the most active investors in crypto and Web3, backing startups ranging from the crypto-based sports collectibles trading game Dapper Labs to nonfungible token marketplace OpenSea.

But it has felt the chilling effects of a downturn known as “crypto winter” in the past 18 months, following major collapses like the spectacular bankruptcy of FTX. (Andreessen was not an investor, but several rival firms, including Sequoia, were.)

The firm’s commitment to open a presence in the U.K. suggests long-term belief in the crypto market, at least outside the U.S.

“In terms of the United States, there is tremendous uncertainty here — that’s a kind word — there’s plenty of opportunity to create more uncertainty, that has not been embraced,” Quintenz told CNBC.

“We’re seeing regulation by enforcement that does nothing to understand benefits of the technology or embrace entrepreneurs innovators trying to build next iteration.”

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