US venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, a major cryptocurrency investor, said it would set up its first international office in London at a time when US regulators have increased scrutiny of the cryptocurrency sector.
The company said in a statement that the London office, which is set to open later this year, will collaborate with UK universities and help the development of blockchain technologies and startups. It added that it will be led by Sriram Krishnan, one of the company’s general partners.
Andreessen’s move comes as the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is taking legal action against cryptocurrency exchanges Coinbase and Binance for allegedly breaking SEC regulations.
“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,” said Chris Dixon, founder and managing director of Andreessen’s a16z crypto fund, which is setting up the office.
Dixon said the decision follows talks with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and other authorities for months. Web3 is a much-hyped vision of a future internet built on blockchain.
Sunak said in the statement he is “determined to unlock opportunities” for blockchain technology and “turn the UK into the world’s Web3 centre”.
However, Dixon said his company would continue investing in the US and work with policymakers there.
“We will remain heavily invested in the US. We continue to be committed to working with US policymakers and regulators to push for more regulatory clarity for crypto startups here,” Dixon wrote in a blog post.
Though there are enormous opportunities with crypto and Web3, Dixon added in the blog post that the industry is still in its early stages.
“Technology takes decades to develop — we are just now seeing mainstream applications of AI after 80 years of development. We are in the early innings of crypto. Today there are tens of thousands of crypto developers, but the numbers are growing fast, and we expect to see one million developers by 2030,” read Dixon’s blog post.
Dixon claimed that one of the reasons in favor of the UK was the authority’s willingness to work with industry to create policies that incentivize startups to pursue decentralization.
“We have been working with policymakers and regulators across the globe, and during our discussions, it has become clear that the UK government sees the promise of web3, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak suggesting the UK can become a hub of web3 innovation,” he wrote.
Andreessen has also invested in UK-based Gensyn, a crypto firm whose decentralized compute protocol is expected to enable developers to build state-of-the-art AI systems on any connected hardware, and their novel cryptographic verification system allows users to trust that the protocol’s machine learning work was completed correctly.