Cory Klippsten is the founder and CEO of Swan Bitcoin. In this interview, we discuss the exploitation of retail markets by crypto VCs. Cory called out many of the crypto ventures that have recently collapsed, but he saves his biggest criticism for the firm that is still active within the industry: a16z.
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Cory Klippsten has a scent for malfeasance within the crypto industry. He explains this by the fact he doesn’t listen to what people say, he tracks their actions and determines motivations. This has enabled him to identify ahead of time some of the most notable scams that have unravelled this year. Cory called out FTX in April this year, Luna in March, and Celsius in Dec 2020.
Yet, there is another VC company that has risen within the crypto industry that has in recent years been the subject of much discussion and criticism. Andreessen Horowitz (it’s also referred to as a16z), founded in 2009, quickly rose to become one of the most influential investors in Silicon Valley after a series of incredibly lucrative stakes in companies such as Skype, Facebook, Twitter, and Airbnb.
In 2013, a16z started investing in crypto, most notably with Coinbase and Ripple. In 2018 they made a concerted effort to focus on crypto as a vertical: they started by raising $300m for the first of a number of dedicated crypto funds, and from 2021 they started to lead fundraising rounds for various altcoins and crypto ventures. Many within the industry saw them as serious and reputable players. Until patterns started to emerge.
The issue is, as Cory highlighted in a recent Twitter thread, a16z have been involved in promoting numerous tokenised projects that have all had the same price pattern: early hype resulting in a massive short-term increase in the value, followed by an equally rapid fall in value and then stagnation. The pattern appears to resemble classic ”pump and dump”, followed by “rinse and repeat.”
Critics have long complained that such VC companies have been able to “create their own weather”, exploiting a regulatory void to monetise off the back of their own hyped narratives that appear to lack credibility. A former analyst for the company actually referred to a16z as a “media company that monetizes through VC.” But many observers, including Cory, are now calling them out. The pressure is certainly building for more attention to be paid to a16z’s activities.