Andreessen Horowitz Crypto to Open First Office in London
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Andreessen Horowitz Crypto to Open First Office in London

A16z crypto plans to open its first London office later this year amid increasing crypto regulatory pressure in the US.
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Prominent venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) has announced plans to establish the first international office of its crypto practice in London. The move comes as US regulators, particularly the Securities and Exchange Commission, have launched an aggressive crackdown on the digital asset sector. 

Andreessen Horowitz Crypto to Open London Office by Later This Year

In a Sunday press release, Andreessen Horowitz said it had chosen the UK as the site for its first crypto office outside the US. The VC firm also said it would hold its next Crypto Startup School accelerator program in the UK.

“The UK has deep pools of talent, world-leading academic institutions, and a strong entrepreneurial culture,” a16z crypto founder and managing partner Chris Dixon said. He added that the British government was willing to create policies that encourage startups to pursue decentralization.

“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. We look forward to helping foster the growth of the UK Web3 ecosystem while the proper regulations come online.”

The London office, set to open later this year, will work with universities in the UK and support the development of blockchain technologies and startups. Sriram Krishnan, an a16z General Partner who has recently served as an adviser to Elon Musk at Twitter following the billionaire’s takeover, will lead the new office. 

“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,” UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, said in a statement, adding:

“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.”

In the report, a16z also mentioned its recent investments in UK-based companies, including leading a $43 million Series A funding round into blockchain-based computing resources for artificial intelligence platforms (AI) provider Gensyn.

The a16z Crypto Startup School is a specialized accelerator program catering to the requirements of Web3 startups. Its upcoming program is scheduled to take place in London in Spring 2024 and aims to draw entrepreneurs from the UK and beyond to establish their Web3 startups there. 

The most recent CSS initiative garnered over 8,000 applications, and the final selection of 26 companies secured investment from a16z, expert mentorship, and an opportunity to showcase their ventures at a Demo Day attended by investors. The program participants represented multiple nations, including the UK, the US, India, Germany, France, Argentina, Ecuador, and Canada.

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A16z Opens UK Office as SEC Crackdown Intensifies

The move by Andreessen comes at a time when the SEC has intensified its crackdown on the crypto industry. Last week, the commission sued Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, and Coinbase, the largest US-based cryptocurrency exchange. 

The SEC has also launched a legal battle against other major crypto firms. So far this year, the commission has taken enforcement action against crypto exchanges Kraken and Bittrex and crypto lending platform Nexo.

In an interview with CNBC Squawk Box shortly after the agency announced charges against Coinbase, SEC Chair Gary Gensler said crypto firms must comply with securities laws. He claimed the industry has a business model built on noncompliance, comparing it to a “catch us if you can.” 

He even went so far as to say that the US doesn’t need any more digital currency. “We don’t need more digital currency… we already have digital currency, it’s called the U.S. dollar,” he said. “We have not seen, over the centuries, that economies and the public need more than one way to move value.”

On the other hand, the UK is taking a more friendlier approach towards digital assets. PM Rishi Sunak is the most crypto-friendly leader ever in the UK. He has been a vocal advocate of crypto and blockchain technology, shepherding the UK’s crypto ambitions as finance minister. 

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