Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), the venture capital behemoth known for its role in the ascension of Web3 platforms like Dapper Labs, Foundation, and more, has announced plans to establish its first international outpost in London.
The strategic move comes amidst an escalating climate of regulatory scrutiny towards crypto exchanges in the United States, highlighted by a recent lawsuit filed against Coinbase, a former Andreessen Horowitz portfolio company, by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Committee (SEC).
Responding to the U.S. crypto climate
After over a decade of shaping Silicon Valley’s tech landscape from its Menlo Park base, the firm is now extending its reach beyond American shores. Chris Dixon, a prominent general partner at a16z and the head of its crypto arm, voiced his concerns about the current U.S. administration’s approach to the technology in the announcement.
“We’re thrilled to open our first international office in a jurisdiction that welcomes blockchain technology and is committed to creating a predictable business environment by pursuing regulations that both embrace web3 and protect consumers,” Dixon said.
Big news to share: @a16z is expanding to the UK 🇬🇧— cdixon.eth (@cdixon) June 11, 2023
We plan to open our first international office in London later this year, and will host the next Crypto Startup School there in 2024.
Why the UK? 👇https://t.co/PQ7GuNEn77
The decision to expand to the U.K. underscores Andreessen Horowitz’s view that the country is becoming a formidable player in the crypto arena. This confidence is bolstered by the U.K. government’s proactive approach to regulating the industry, led by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
“As we cement the UK’s place as a science and tech superpower, we must embrace new innovations like Web3, powered by blockchain technology, which will enable start-ups to flourish here and grow the economy,” Sunak said.
“That success is founded on having the right regulation and guardrails in place to protect consumers and foster innovation. While there’s still work to do, I’m determined to unlock opportunities for this technology and turn the UK into the world’s Web3 centre.”
Dixon lauded the U.K.’s potential as a burgeoning tech hub, citing the country’s favorable conditions for the growth of emerging technologies. The London office, set to open its doors later this year, will be under the stewardship of Sriram Krishnan, a general partner at a16z.
Andreessen Horowitz also intends to collaborate with academic institutions to cultivate blockchain clubs and nurture talent for the crypto industry in the U.K. This includes its Crypto Startup School accelerator program, which it will host in the country in the spring of 2024. The latest iteration of the program attracted approximately 8,000 applicants, with 26 companies receiving investment and mentorship from a16z.
However, Dixon underscored in a June 11 tweet that a16z remained a U.S.-based company that was committed to seeing the crypto industry in the country grow.
In tandem with the announcement of the new office, Andreessen Horowitz unveiled a $43 million investment in Gensyn, a U.K.-based startup that merges crypto and artificial intelligence. The firm has a history of investing in U.K.-based crypto enterprises, including Arweave, Aztec, and Improbable.
While a16z’s expansion is encouraging news for the international crypto industry, the U.K. is still navigating the complexities of crypto regulation. The parliament’s Treasury Committee suggested in mid-May that cryptocurrency trading should be classified as gambling rather than a financial service.
Still, Prime Minister Sunak has been a vocal supporter of crypto and blockchain during his tenure as finance minister, while other lawmakers, such as MP Lisa Cameron, continue to advocate for digital asset regulation that optimizes for industry growth while protecting consumers.
a16z’s announcement comes shortly after Crypto.com revealed that it would be shuttering the U.S. arm of its institutional exchange services. While many industry experts expect the regulatory atmosphere in the United States to turn around, for the time being, companies appear to be looking elsewhere.