Crypto investor Katie Hawn raised $ 1.5 billion for her new fund after leaving Andreessen Horowitz, and broke several records in the process.
According to the Pitchbook, the launch of Haun Ventures became the largest debut venture fund ever raised by a single founding woman. Former investment banker Mary Meeker held a previous record with a fund of $ 1.3 billion after leaving Kleiner Perkins.
“Honestly, it feels like a lot of pressure. But I think it motivates everyone on the team,” Hawn told CNBC in her first interview after leaving Andreessen Horowitz. “Web3 is a new era of the Internet, and it deserves a new era of investors.”
The term Web3, or Web 3.0, loosely refers to generic computing applications built on the blockchain – the same technology that underlies bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Examples include NFT, which are traceable certificates of ownership attached to digital files such as artwork or video, and decentralized financial applications in which self-executing “smart” contracts can be used to replace intermediaries such as lawyers and bankers , in certain types of transactions. But overall the space is still in a very early and experimental phase.
Katie Hawn, general partner of Andreessen Horowitz
The Hon Foundation will be divided into two segments: $ 500 million for early-stage companies and protocols and $ 1 billion for “acceleration” projects or later stages.
Hawn, a former federal prosecutor, became Andreessen’s first female general partner in 2018, where along with Chris Dixon she headed several cryptocurrency funds. Andreessen Horowitz will be a limited partner in Hon’s newest foundation, and Mark Andreessen, the firm’s founder, and Dixon have personally contributed to its new venture.
Her exit caught many in Silicon Valley by surprise. Although it was a “dream job,” Hawn said the departure was about taking more risks and “getting out of the comfort zone”.
“Obviously there is a relationship, and there is a friendly relationship. We still intend to work closely with Andrees Horowitz,” she said. “One of the unique features of our fund’s size is that we don’t have to do every deal, we can play well with many other crypto-investors – the founders don’t want any investors to become them, even in the first rounds.”
The nine-member Haun Ventures team includes Chris Leahyn, a former Airbnb CEO and Clinton administration official, Tomica Tilleman, a former aide to President Joe Biden, and Rachel Horwitz, who led communications groups on Twitter, Google, Facebook and Coinbase. Several employees left Andreessen Horowitz along with Haun into the new fund. She said a smaller team allows the firm to be more “agile” and act as “venture capitalists” in addition to venture capitalists.
“Gone are the days when founders just wanted capital,” she said. “One of the things Haun Ventures will do for our founders is make a really active contribution to the projects we invest in.”
The launch takes place during the bearish bitcoin market. The world’s largest cryptocurrency fell about 40% from its peak in November, and smaller cryptocurrencies, such as ether, have bigger losses. Hawn, who has invested through past downturns or “cryptozymes,” said developers are still actively working and evolving.
“If I think about the deployment of the first two cryptocurrencies, it was a period of huge volatility – it was definitely a crypto-winter, when prices fell by 70%, and projects were still being born during this cycle,” she said. Salan. and the NFT OpenSea exchange. “One of the things I’ve learned as an investor with a long-term view of space is that great products and great protocols will be created, regardless of price.”
The Coinbase cryptocurrency exchange, whose board is Hawn, was about 58% of its high last year. However, Hawn said the assessment of private startups has not yet suffered.
“There is a small backlog. We still see very high scores in crypto projects. Last time it happened with macro market corrections, and it took a while for it to go into crypto. I think the same thing can happen here,” she said. she said.
While cryptocurrencies may be struggling to recover, the dollars coming into private companies are at the highest level. According to the latest data from CB Insights, last year blockchain startups brought in a record $ 25 billion in venture capital. This figure is eight times higher than a year earlier.
This flow of venture dollars has caused some controversy on Twitter.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey – two of the world’s most famous technology billionaires – were among those polling Web3. Dorsey argues that venture capitalists and their limited liability partners are the ones who end up owning Web3, and he “will never escape their incentives,” he tweeted, calling it “a centralized organization with a different label.”
“I look at it as if Web3 is finally getting some of the critics it deserves in space,” Hawn said. “If I had a choice between Jack Dorsey, who offers some criticism, and some of the myths we’ve heard that have been going on in space for so long, I would certainly have chosen the former. So I think the debate is healthy. “