Andreessen, better known today as the co-founder of the blockchain-focused venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), originally found success by developing the first widely used web browser called Mosaic and then founded Netscape Navigator, which dominated the browser market throughout much of the 1990s.
Appearing on the Bankless podcast alongside investment partner and colleague Chris Dixon, Andreessen said that increasing adoption and a flurry of development in Web3 appears remarkably similar to the rush of activity that marked his early years in tech.
Andreessen stressed that he would not make this sort of sweeping comparison idly and that it was the first time he’d ever made such a claim:
“This is the only time I’ve ever said this [Web3] is like the internet. If you go back through all my historical statements, one could imagine that with my experience I could have said this like 48 times. I’ve never made the comparison before.”
“I’ve never said it about any other kind of technology, because I just wanted people to know like I don’t take the comparison lightly.”
While the parallels between the adoption path of blockchain tech and the early internet have often been made by crypto enthusiasts (to the chagrin of crypto critics), Andreessen’s front-line experience lends him unique authority to make such statements.
He added that the current Web3 landscape is attracting the world’s smartest people:
“The easiest way to think about it is, when you get something like this that has a movement, that has this sort of collective effect and has a movement behind it, and is attracting many of the world’s smartest people to work on it, basically the criticisms play out differently than the critics think.”
Pushing back against the “long list” of criticisms leveled at crypto and digital assets, Andreessen said that Web3 entrepreneurs see these “problems” as opportunities.
“The critics make this long list of all of the problems, but you’re getting these genius engineers and entrepreneurs [who] flood into the space. What happens is, they look at that list of problems as a list of opportunities.”
“It’d be like if you had a house project [that] was going sideways and you get all these complaints, and then all of the world’s best architects and master builders showed up the next day to fix your house,” he said. “All of a sudden you’ve got the best house in the world. This can actually happen.”
Andreessen said that Web3 is the “missing” link for the internet, bringing trust, sovereignty and financial utility to the ecosystem:
“We were […] missing trust, authority, permission. We were missing the ability to transact with people for trusted relationships, transact, send money, store money, and then have all the other economic arrangements that the world wants to have [such as] loans and contracts and insurance and all these all these other things.”
Previously known for its early investments in Instagram and Slack, a16z first entered the crypto industry with an investment in Coinbase in 2013 and has since backed major cryptocurrency-related businesses, including Polychain Capital, OpenSea, Solana, Avalanche and Yuga Labs.
A week ago, it announced the launch of its fourth cryptocurrency fund at $4.5 billion, bringing the total amount of capital invested by Andreessen Horowitz into crypto businesses to just over $7.6 billion.
According to a letter penned by managing partner Chris Dixon, a16z launched the latest fund to capitalize on what Dixon calls the “golden era” of Web3 development.
Andressen concluded the podcast with a succinct explanation for why a16z is tipping so much money into the industry:
“We could actually imagine the entire global economy running on the blockchain like 30 or 50 years from now.”