As the firm aims to boost its crypto investments, it hosted officials from the Treasury Department, as well as a number of Washington’s regulatory agencies, at a full-day, private conference in San Francisco in late May, according to The Wall Street Journal.
In his opening remarks, Marc Andreessen compared cryptos to the early internet, adding that digital currencies could solve some of the web’s biggest challenges, including improving privacy by reducing the role of online ads.
“Eighty percent of the things people hate about the internet today would not be problems,” he explained.
But those in attendance reported that J. Christopher Giancarlo, who was chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission at the time of the conference (he stepped down in July), warned that regulation of crypto won’t be pushed aside.
“Some of the things you learned from your older VCs, this won’t transfer,” he said.
And as Bart Stephens, co-founder and managing partner of Blockchain Capital, a venture capital investor focused on cryptocurrencies, noted, “The U.S. regulatory environment has gone from uncertain to hostile.”
Investors such as Andreessen Horowitz have concerns that the digital coins they bought or sold could be considered securities, which would restrict trading. Last year, the firm hired Katie Haun, a former federal prosecutor who was in charge of some of the government’s early cases involving bitcoin, as a general partner. She served as the emcee of the conference and invited many of the regulators and law enforcement officials in attendance.
The fact that the conference had so many government officials there made it a unique event.
“For one VC that has such a clear monetary interest in getting favorable regulatory treatment for crypto assets to host the event in a private, invite-only setting, it does strike me as unusual and untoward from a public standpoint,” said Lee Reiners, executive director of the Global Financial Markets Center at Duke University.
Andreessen Horowitz claimed it is simply attempting to bridge a gap between regulators and the crypto industry.
“Regulation itself is not the problem, it’s the lack of clarity around crypto regulation that our companies and the crypto space overall grapple with,” said Kim Milosevich, a spokeswoman for Andreessen Horowitz.
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