As the head of crypto at Andreessen Horowitz, the 50-year-old Dixon oversees a portfolio that’s been making headlines for months. He’s overseeing deals with some of the largest valuations in tech, including Coinbase and Uniswap.
What makes Dixon a crypto leader is his deep conviction about the technology’s potential. He says it’s not just a way for tech bros to get rich gambling, but that it’s a way for people to own and control their content, based on a blockchain-based decentralized system.
He backed the emergence of Ethereum, which offered an open-source alternative to Bitcoin that uses blockchain-based record-keeping for applications beyond payments. It helped fuel his zeal to embrace the crypto space.
His commitment to the technology has helped him attract a wide array of companies from which he has invested, many of them from outside his traditional area of expertise. He has partnered with companies that have developed products in areas such as virtual reality, 3-D printing and medical imaging.
Dixon’s commitment to crypto has also led him to a less conventional investment strategy than other VC firms. He doesn’t back companies that compete directly with his own portfolio – which has become an industry norm – and instead tries to find investments that offer new opportunities for investors or creators in the space, according to sources.
Another key component of his crypto strategy is a commitment to non-fungible tokens (NFTs). The technology allows users to build and own new kinds of digital assets without having to share their intellectual property or rely on a third party.
As part of his longstanding commitment to the technology, Dixon pushed for the development of “Can’t Be Evil” licenses for NFTs, which are designed to encourage projects and holders to use the technology in a way that is respectful to other communities. These licenses are modeled on the work of Creative Commons, but can be modified and used by any company or community.
The release of these licenses is a sign that Dixon’s passion for the technology is growing stronger as he builds out his a16z crypto vertical, which has grown to $6.3 billion in assets under management. The move will help him continue to attract new crypto-savvy entrepreneurs to the firm, and it represents a significant commitment from Andreessen Horowitz to a sector that has become more mainstream as it has grown in popularity among both startups and the general public.
But the biggest reason for Dixon’s fervor for the technology is that it fits into his vision of Web3. He sees a future where users can own their content directly and control it with decentralized systems like blockchains.
He has a history of investing in early-stage tech companies, from social sharing sites like Pinterest and crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter to online payments firms like Stripe. He co-founded a seed-stage fund, Founder Collective, and has more than 50 personal investments in various technology firms.
But he’s known to be a private person, and his reluctance to share much about himself publicly has put him at odds with some of his colleagues in the crypto industry. He doesn’t like naysayers and takes his own criticisms personally. He also gets offended when other big players in the crypto space make false statements, such as claiming he doesn’t believe in crypto.