Chris Dixon did not join the a16z overnight. To become Coinbase’s guardian angel, and that CEO Brian Armstrong appoints him to “the most influential investor”the native of Ohio in the United States has followed a long path, ignored by many but criticized by some as the founder of Twitter Jack Dorsey.
“My job is not to predict the future”he recently timed in an interview with Forbes. “My job is to be smart enough to know who will be the smart people who stand out” he specified. Visionary for his ability to be a headhunter, he managed to uncover the best gold nuggets on the planet in technology, even before specializing in crypto.
Thanks to him a unique track record for the a16z investment fund: 14 participation in Coinbase financing operations from 2013 (jackpot when the company was listed), investment in Uniswap, a decentralized cryptocurrency exchange platform, in Avalanche (blockchain) and in the NBA Top Shot, an NFT platform .
From $ 350 million to more than $ 6 billion, the funds that a16z invested in 2021 have increased 17.7 times thanks to the performance of the companies on which Chris Dixon placed his bets. New York Newspaper Forbes decided to make it the portrait of a character without whom you would have understood, the crypto world would not have looked alike.
What will be the new technology of the decade, after computers in the 80s, the Internet in the 90s and then mobile phones in the 2000s? It was in 2013 that Chris Dixon says he considered the issue before deciding to invest $ 25 million in Coinbase. But before this operation, his track record in winning bets was already complete.
Kickstarter in 2009, Pinterest in 2011, he said he was looking to find “moonshots”, the companies that are capable of becoming leaders in their field in the future. To raise funds, he took advantage of the acquisition of his own startups, Hunch and SiteAdvisor, the first of which sold for $ 75 million on eBay.
An independent investor who became the director of one of the biggest VCs on the planet, Chris Dixon also stood out on his personal blog. In 2010, for example, he wrote a post describing his vision of tomorrow’s disruptive technologies. For him, “the next big breakthrough technologies will start to look like toys”, he wrote. A reasoning that resonates today with the – sometimes mocked – emergence of NFTs.
Controversial personality and strategy
Behind his acclamation, Chris Dixon is also being criticized. Thanks to Coinbase, it is highlighted by many supporters of decentralized finance and Bitcoin. Because by investing in Coinbase, a16z has chosen to bet on centralized players who have only one goal with cryptocurrencies to make money. Result: web3, which is to be the next version of the web born of decentralized projects, of blockchain and of the absence of heavyweights like GAFA, is threatened.
Jack Dorsey, the Twitter founder who quit his CEO job to focus on Bitcoin development, is one of the main challengers to Chris Dixons and VC a16z’s vision. In December 2021, he regretted in a tweet: “you do not own Web3. It has mutual funds. […] Web3 is ultimately a centralized entity with a different label “.
In early April, he added a layer of it by saying that Web3 will not solve the problems of Web 2.0 because of these means, which perpetuate the same flaws in traditional finance: problem for personal data, for competition, for security . This time he made his own mea culpa apologizes to himself for having founded Twitter with an ad-only model. Jack Dorsey is currently reportedly working on his own decentralized social network.
“The days with Usenet, IRC, the internet… even email (with PGP)… were amazing. The centralization of discovery and identity in companies has really hurt the internet. I realize that I am partly responsible and I regret it ”he wrote.
Following these comments on Twitter, Chris Dixon reacted impulsively, blocking Jack Dorsey. When he himself defended the importance of a decentralized Web3 in a thread, Jack Dorsey replied “that he was not Gandhi” and that it was “a fund determined to be a media empire that cannot be ignored”. To which Chris Dixon replied that he invited all the actors to join him “Solve these problems” whole.