Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) is one of the most influential players in the web3 ecosystem, funding entrepreneurs in the space amid “crypto winter.” Founded and helmed by general partner Chris Dixon, the venture firm’s crypto arm raised a massive $4.5 billion fund in May for its fourth dedicated sector fund to continue backing early-stage founders just as the crypto downturn began to take root.
Now, it’s doubling down on its programming for crypto founders, Dixon, an early Coinbase backer who has been investing at a16z since 2012, revealed onstage at Disrupt 2022 in San Francisco on Tuesday in an interview with TechCrunch’s Lucas Matney.
Onstage, Dixon announced a16z’s plans to expand its educational “Crypto Startup School” initiative to include a new accelerator program for entrepreneurs.
The inaugural accelerator program will take place in-person in March in Los Angeles, Dixon said, adding that he has noticed particular excitement in the city around the creator economy and its potential intersections with crypto. Participants in the 12-week program will each get $500,000 in seed funding and access to mentors and advisors as well as the opportunity to participate in a Demo Day at the end of the course, according to the website.
Applications for the accelerator are now open and the first cohort will have about 30 founders participating, according to a spokesperson for a16z.
“This one will be different than the last one in that we will also provide capital and take equity, similar to an accelerator and Startup School combined,” Dixon said of the new program, contrasting it with the current version of “Crypto Startup School.”
“Crypto Startup School” first launched in 2020 as a seven-week course meant to educate people on how to build a crypto company. The in-person cohort had 40 founders participating, including those behind companies such as Phantom and Notional Finance, and raised a collective $300 million+ in venture funding, according to a16z.
A16z Crypto also released video segments of its lectures for the public to view, which it says have been watched by more than million people. Instructors for the first program included Dixon, Stanford computer science professor Dan Boneh, Coinbase founder Brian Armstrong and other well-known industry leaders.
Dixon noted that the new program will remain crypto-focused and that a16z is “not trying to build some sort of new startup accelerator,” saying the new offering is instead intended to be an educational program with funding that is tied to the “very specific” sector.
When asked about what makes the firm’s offering unique from accelerators such as Y Combinator, Dixon said there isn’t a “grand master plan” for this launch and that it was built as a response to feedback he had been hearing from founders.
“We literally just meet entrepreneurs all the time, who say, ‘hey, I wish that conversation we had was available online’ … so we’re just listening [to them],” Dixon said.