Nearly two years ago, Katie Haun left Andreessen Horowitz and raised two crypto funds totaling $1.5 billion. And then . . . a crypto market crisis happened. At TechCrunch Disrupt, she looked back at what happened over the past couple of years and confirmed that she’s still very optimistic about the future of crypto.
When Katie Haun was a general partner at a16z, bitcoin was trading at $65,000 and Sam Bankman-Fried was still at the helm of FTX. And Haun agrees that those things set the space back considerably. But it’s not a bad time to be a crypto investor.
“I think there’s a perception out there that crypto is crickets chirping. We find ourselves very busy, but one of the things we did do is we saw this market correction, and we very purposely waited to make some deployments,” Katie Haun said. “So I know this is going to sound a little odd, but we feel actually it’s a really good time to be investing in the space during this time.”
According to her, there are a few misconceptions about Haun Ventures. “I think another misperception is ‘Oh, wow, you raised it during a high market, great timing, peak.’ Actually, that was not the case,” Haun said. “It was not a walk in the park. Number one, crypto market cap had dropped 40% from its peak.”
“The other thing is perception of our fund is we’re one huge, enormous $1.5 billion fund, and we’re not. We have two funds. We have an early stage fund, $500 million. We do A, B and C. And then we have an acceleration fund, which backs all kinds of later stage projects in crypto.”
When it comes to the larger fund, Haun Ventures recently closed two deals without announcing them in two “iconic brands” in crypto that are growing rapidly. Haun didn’t name those companies.
Without giving any hard numbers, Haun said that her firm hasn’t deployed half of the larger fund. “Of our earlier stage fund, it’s considerably less than that,” she said.
She has no regret raising $1.5 billion across her two funds. She thinks it’s the right size and she believes Haun Ventures will remain committed to this sort of fund size in the long run.
“And by the way, I’m sitting here publicly stating this on the record in a stage setting, even if the market is in a massive crypto bull run, we don’t intend to increase our size. We think we’ve picked our size and our strategy for a reason,” Haun said.
SEC might need to come back to Earth
When talking about the SEC and current regulatory concerns about cryptocurrencies, Katie Haun expressed some strong opinions about some of the decisions that have been made by the agency.
“The law and the regulations are decided in this country by courts and by Congress. They’re not decided by independent agencies. So just because an agency says something doesn’t really make it the law. And I think a lot of people don’t realize that. And so we’ve seen agencies, certain branches of government — by the way, across different administrations too — get very, very involved,” Haun said.
In particular, she criticized the current leadership. “I think the SEC under [Gary Gensler] has really taken a very expansive view of their jurisdiction in a way that I think, by the way, make no mistake, it’s not just crypto, it’s on AI, it’s on climate,” Haun said.
“And I think that’s a bit concerning, because that’s not how our system is set up. And I think that’s why you’ve started to see some federal judges starting to say, ‘Wait a second, this is a step too far,’” she added.
“I think what’s going on now is regulators need to prove that they’re the tough cop on the beat. And they’re going after whatever they can, even if they might not ultimately prevail.”
The end of FTX
As a former federal prosecutor, Katie Haun also had thoughts about Sam Bankman-Fried and FTX in general. She did meet him a couple of times at conferences.
“I was on team Coinbase and the audience was by and large a lot of FTX supporters. The only other time — I think I met him two or three times — the only other time I shared a stage with him was behind closed doors, so I won’t say too much about it. But I can tell you also, I was talking about government and there were some awkward moments where he was saying, oh, I was not registering,” she said.