Why a Leading Venture Capitalist Is Betting on a Decentralized Internet

Chris Dixon, blockchain’s most vocal VC, on dismantling the “Disneyland internet”

Kevin Maney

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Credit: gmast3r/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Chris Dixon, arguably the most prominent venture capitalist focusing on blockchain, is friggin’ tall. Prior to sitting down with him inside the spa-like Silicon Valley offices of Andreessen Horowitz in August, I had talked to him a handful of times over the years, but always on the phone, so I didn’t exactly know about his height.

As far as either of us can remember, Dixon and I initially talked in the mid-2000s, when he was running his first company, SiteAdvisor — a web security startup that was bought by McAfee in 2006. Next, Dixon cofounded Hunch, a wisdom-of-the-crowds recommendation site that eBay scooped up in 2011 for $80 million. Dixon joined VC superpower Andreessen Horowitz in 2013, around the time he made his first blockchain investment, in Ripple. He’s since led the firm into crypto investments that include Coinbase, OpenBazaar, and Mediachain. In June, Andreessen Horowitz unveiled a $300 million crypto fund and brought in blockchain guru and former federal prosecutor Katie Haun to run it.

After Dixon and Margit Wennmachers, the firm’s communications chief, greet me warmly in a hallway at Andreessen Horowitz, in Menlo Park, we make our way into a blah conference room. Dixon sits and stretches out his long frame. He’s wearing a gray polo shirt, gray jeans, red-and-white-striped socks, and sneakers. The following is an edited version of our conversation, beginning right after Wennmachers reminds me that Dixon doesn’t like to talk about his private life.

Kevin Maney: You just don’t like to talk about personal things?

Chris Dixon: There are a lot of crazy people. We have people coming to our house thinking that we keep bitcoin there.

Okay, well, this is a little personal: I’m intrigued that you were a philosophy major.

It was A.I. meets computer science that first got me introduced to philosophy, and reading Gödel, Escher, Bach, which was really influential for me. I wrote my high school thesis on whether machines…

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Kevin Maney

Writer of columns, books, songs, tweets, blogs, texts and a novel that never left my desk drawer.