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Mental Models for Navigating Crypto Markets & Cycles

Mental Models for Navigating Crypto Markets & Cycles

web3 with a16z 21 November 2022

Episode Description

A  hallway-style conversation between a16z crypto's Chris Dixon, Eddy Lazzarin, and Sonal Chokshi about market conditions, cycles of innovation, and mental models for navigating crypto and web3 -- as well as the longer arc and evolution of technology; methods & metrics for measuring price-innovation cycle ebbs and flows; some key trends; and more. 

This episode originally ran in May 2022, as episode #1 in our new show 'web3 with a16z'. The 2022 State of Crypto report referenced can be found at a16zcrypto.com/stateofcrypto -- please sign up for our newsletter to be notified about the next report and other resources + updates: https://a16zcrypto.substack.com/

As a reminder, none of this discussion should be taken as business, legal, tax, or investment advice; please see a16z.com/disclosures for more important information, including a link to a list of our investments.

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Age of Wonders: NFTs, Art, AI, Cycles of Computing

with @kevinrose @cdixon  This wide-ranging discussion is a tour through tech trends and hot topics both within and beyond crypto – including art, AI, the evolution of mediums including blockchains; a deep dive on NFTs, artists, communities; debates around cc0, modding and copying on the internet, royalties; plus role of brands, DAOs, wisdom of crowds; and much more.  The hallway-style conversation took place this week between Chris Dixon (founding general partner of a16z crypto, former entrepreneur) and Kevin Rose (co-founder of Proof Collective, Digg, more). Their discussion is not just a journey through time (long cycles of computing, web2 to web3) and place (LA, SF, NYC), but into "the age of wonders". Are we at the end of (computing) history, or the beginning? You decide... but only after listening to this conversation.  As a reminder, NONE of this is investment, business, legal, or tax advice -- nor is it directed at any investors or potential investors in any a16z fund – also, please note that any a16z investments and portfolio companies mentioned are not representative of all a16z investments; you can see a16z.com/disclosures for more important information, including a link to a list of our investments.

9 October 2022


Ethereum, Merge and Beyond

Ethereum, Merge and Beyond

with @timbeiko @tim_roughgarden @alive_eth @smc90 A deep dive on all things Ethereum, which this week makes the big move to Proof of Stake in The Merge. So in this long and wide-ranging conversation with Tim Beiko -- who runs the core devs calls and Protocol Support for Ethereum Foundation -- a16z crypto head of research (Tim Roughgarden), general partner (Ali Yahya), and editor in chief (Sonal Chokshi) cover: how Ethereum got here today -- and the co-evolution of the protocol and the community; what went into The Merge -- both technical and the social processes behind the outcomes;  what changes, what doesn't; top of mind tech trends such as rollups, data availability, EVMs, and more (as well as hot topics including proposer-builder separation and others); views on token governance the nature of distributed collaboration especially between R&D ...but it's really a conversation about how innovation happens, in a decentralized way.  And what does that mean for community involvement, who participates, and how more people can participate in web3?  In case you missed it, check out last week's episode for an overview of proof of stake blockchains. As a reminder, none of the following is investment, business, legal, or tax advice; please see a16z.com/disclosures for more important information, including a link to a list of our investments.  "web3 with a16z" is a show about building the next generation of the internet from the team at a16z crypto; this show is for anyone seeking to understand, and go deeper, on all things crypto and web3.

12 September 2022


PoS Blockchains - Designs, Consensus, Attacks

PoS Blockchains - Designs, Consensus, Attacks

with @lera_banda @tim_roughgarden @smc90 We share an overview of proof-of-stake (PoS) blockchains -- from quick background on how blockchains work, differences between PoS & PoW (including the energy question), and approaches to improving both; to digging deeper into Sybill attacks and Sybill resistance... and much more on the design (and some debates) of PoS blockchains overall.  We therefore also go into different consensus approaches for PoS blockchains, from Nakamoto to BFT-style consensus and beyond; touch briefly on the question/ debate of centralization vs. decentralization in practice when it comes to PoS blockchains; and cover costless simulation and long-range attacks... plus briefly discuss topics like slashing and more, when issues are "escalated" to the social vs. protocol layer. [We don’t go into too much detail on Ethereum or the Merge i this episode, since we cover that in an upcoming episode.] Our expert guests in this episode (in conversation with host Sonal Chokshi) are: Valeria (Lera) Nikolaenko, a16z crypto research partner -- who was previously on Novi at Meta (formerly Facebook), where she was a research scientist and cryptographer for the Diem blockchain; Lera specializes in modern cryptography, post-quantum cryptography, proof-of-stake blockchain design, and more. Tim Roughgarden, a16z crypto Head of Research -- who, among many other things, is also a computer science professor at Columbia, and before that Stanford (and who joins as co-host in this episode). Be sure to also subscribe to our YouTube channel  for several introductory and deep-dive videos -- including the exact topics discussed in this episode, on an overview of PoS Blockchains & on long-range attacks on PoS blockchains, as presented by Lera -- just search for 'a16z crypto research'.  See also Tim Roughgarden's YouTube channel with several lectures on foundations of blockchains, including on topics mentioned in this episode (Tendermint protocol, longest-range consensus, random leader selection, more).  Finally, if you’d also like a more high-level survey of research in web3 -- and a quick tour through tech topics like VDFs, rollups, and more -- be sure to check out episode 8 in this feed, which was also a hallway-style jam with the research team... As a reminder, none of the following investment, business, legal, or tax advice; please see a16z.com/disclosures for more important information, including a link to a list of our investments.

29 August 2022


Crypto Regulations, Illicit Finance, Privacy and Beyond

Crypto Regulations, Illicit Finance, Privacy and Beyond

with @michelekorver @jai_ramaswamy @smc90 We tease apart the facts vs buzz around recent news -- that the U.S. Treasury sanctioned Tornado Cash for allegedly laundering proceeds of cybercrimes, and then later the Dutch Fiscal Information and Investigation Service stated that they arrested a suspected developer of Tornado Cash  Tornado Cash  -- including what's novel and what's not here, as well as the broader regulatory and compliance backdrop.   But we also share an evergreen explainer that goes well beyond recent events, to help crypto founders and others navigate various regulatory and compliance requirements for builders... while still ensuring innovation.   The first third covers a ton of analysis beyond the news around Tornado Cash -- from broader backdrop to specifics to players to what's novel or not in recent actions; as well as going into the differences between sanctions and national securities laws, to civil enforcement actions, criminal liability and money laundering, and Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and anti-money laundering (AML) program compliance requirements. We then do a brief interlude on the difference between obfuscating vs privacy preserving technologies, and why that matters in the big picture. And then the SECOND half of the episode dives deep into understanding and navigating compliance and legal for builders, covering: different frameworks, principles, common myths & misconceptions; when and how to resource (tooling to hiring);  a lightning-round primer on the alphabet soup of governmentt entities relevant to this space; advice for BOTH entrepreneurs & government agencies on engaging with each other and much, much more… that’s all in the second half of the episode. Our expert guests (in conversation with Sonal Chokshi) are:  Michele Korver, head of regulatory at a16z crypto, former federal prosecutor who was also at the Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network as their chief digital currency advisor; she also spent time in the U.S. Departmentt of Justice, where she was the first dedicated subject matter expert in cryptocurrency-related prosecutions and forfeitures; and Jai Ramaswamy, chief legal officer at Andreessen Horowitz, where he oversees legal and compliance; he was also formerly chief risk and compliance officer at cLabs, which launched the decentralized protocol Celo; Jai also headed (or advised) on AML compliance & risk management at major banks (Capital One, Bank of America); and previously spent over a decade in government including significant time in the U.S. Department of Justice criminal division, where he focused on cybercrime, asset forfeiture, and money laundering.   As a reminder: None of the following is legal, business, investment, or tax advice; please see a16z.com/disclosures for more important information, including a link to a list of our investments.

19 August 2022


Bridge Hack, Wallet Hack

Bridge Hack, Wallet Hack

with @mg_486662 @riyazdf @nassyweazy and @smc90 This week’s all-new episode digs into recent high-profile hacks that took place in the crypto space over the last week -- we not only dig into what happened, including a more technical breakdown of the how and how we know -- but also cover the categories and issues specific to (and not specific to!) web3 security; as well as solutions and advice for builders. We also touch on related trends and topics such as the role of open source; communications around hacks, as well as social media status signaling; and much more. Throughout, we try to help tease apart what’s hype/ what’s real, as well as the signal vs. the noise, in the narratives out there...   Joining host Sonal Chokshi this week are experts from the a16z crypto security team, including: security engineer Matt Gleason; CTO Riyaz Faizullabhoy; and CISO Nassim Eddequiouaq -- both of whom previously worked at Facebook, Anchorage, and Docker [Nass also appeared on an earlier episode of this show, on evolving NFTs & security, available here]. But for this episode, just to quickly recap for your context, the hacks we’re specifically covering are: The hack of the Nomad bridge -- which connects several different blockchains including Avalanche, Ethereum, Evmos, Moonbeam, and others – with reported range of between $185-$190M stolen;  The hack of the Slope wallet -- a non-custodial, browser-based wallet that was reported to affect nearly 8000 users on Solana as well as other ecosystems -- with reported range of between $4.5-8M stolen. It occurred a week ago and Slope just posted their latest update today confirming some of the details in this episode (which was recorded a few days earlier). As a reminder: None of the following is investment, business, tax, or legal advice; please see a16z.com/disclosures for more important information, including a link to a list of our investments.

12 August 2022


Top Tech Topics, Explained

Top Tech Topics, Explained

@tim_roughgarden @josephbonneau @skominers with @alive_eth @cdixon A tour through top-of-mind blockchain & crypto tech topics, explained by several a16z crypto researchers, including VDFs (verifiable delay functions); zk-rollups, SNARKs, and zero knowledge in general; and others. We quickly zip up and down the stack, and across themes -- such as scalability; data availability; reputation and the creator economy, also discussing applications for NFTs and more.  It is based on a conversation that took place a few months ago (on the heels of our a16z crypto research lab announcement), live on Twitter with: Tim Roughgarden, Head of Research at a16z crypto and professor in the computer science department at Columbia University; Joseph Bonneau, research partner at a16z crypto, who also wrote the textbook on cryptocurrency technologies, pioneered VDFs, and has taught cryptocurrency courses at several top universities;  and Scott Duke Kominers,  research partner at a16z crypto and professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, and a faculty affiliate of the Harvard Department of Economics, who also advises a variety of marketplace businesses, startups, and crypto projects, and serves as an expert on NFT-related matters. ...with moderators and general partners Chris Dixon and Ali Yahya. Be sure to also subscribe to our YouTube channel -- as well as our newsletter at a16zcrypto.substack.com -- for more related content, and videos from researchers, going deeper on the topics discussed in this episode and beyond...  --- Welcome to web3 with a16z, a show about building the next generation of the internet, from the team at a16z crypto -- this show is for anyone (whether researcher, developer, engineer, artist, company leader, community manager, entrepreneur or other builder) -- seeking to understand, and go deeper on all things crypto and web3:  towards a decentralized, community-owned, and creator-owned internet.

6 August 2022


Policy Principles

Policy Principles

@jakeauch @cdixon @milesjennings A quick overview of principles for thinking about policy, briefly covering topics and recent moves that are top of mind in U.S. crypto regulation -- from stablecoins to NFTs to DAOs to more. It is based (only lightly edited for this medium) on a live conversation that took place a couple weeks ago on Twitter with: Congressman Jake Auchincloss of Massachusetts, also Vice-Chair of the Financial Services Committee (he also formerly led product development at both a Fortune 100 insurance company and a cybersecurity startup); Miles Jennings, general counsel and head of decentralization at a16z crypto who has advanced and published several frameworks for both builders and industry on topics such as decentralization in practice, legal frameworks for DAOs, and more; Chris Dixon, a16z crypto founding general and managing partner who also moderates this conversation. Welcome to web3 with a16z, a show about building the next generation of the internet from the team at a16z crypto. This show is for anyone -- whether developer, artist, community leader; startup entrepreneur or other builder, policymakers, company leaders, others – anyone seeking to understand, and go deeper on all things crypto and web3: towards a decentralized, community-owned, and creator-owned internet.  As a reminder: None of the following is investment, business, tax, or legal advice; please see a16z.com/disclosures for more important information, including a link to a list of our investments.

23 July 2022


Securing and Evolving NFTs

Securing and Evolving NFTs

with @x0rart / @blauyourmind, @nassyweazy, @smc90 Building “usable” security will be critical as NFTs scale across applications and mediums — including “dynamic NFTs” for art, identity, experiences (token access, more). In the latest episode of our podcast ‘web3 with a16z’, expert guests discuss security best practices for builders, experiments, and trends now and ahead — also addressing common myths and misconceptions along the way (artist royalties in smart contracts? immutability?... well…)   As a reminder: None of the following is investment, business, tax, or legal advice; please see a16z.com/disclosures for more important information, including a link to a list of our investments.

18 July 2022


Puzzles (& Crypto)

Puzzles (& Crypto)

with @enigmida @skominers @smc90 A special bonus holiday episode (during our brief summer vacation) based on a hallway-style conversation we did linking two seemingly unrelated things: puzzle design, and crypto.  What's the connection? Our experts  riff on all things puzzle design, from types of puzzles and mediums to mindsets -- as well as the parallels between the general principles of incentive design, engagement, accessibility, and more to NFTs, escape rooms, games, and other experience design -- drawing on their deep experience and passion from both inside puzzle communities and from work they've done for different crypto projects.  Hosted by Sonal Chokshi, our guests in this episode are: Scott Kominers (a16z crypto research partner and professor at Harvard Business School), who also wrote Bloomberg’s puzzle column for a couple years; and Matthew Stein (former software engineer at Google and now full-time puzzle designer), who specializes in narrative puzzle hunts, as well as in designing alternate reality games for NFT communities, movies, musicians, companies, individuals, and others. Stein also designs puzzles for Art of Play's art journal; and is a reviewer for Room Escape Artist, the largest escape room website in North America, where he also writes about various topics in immersive gaming.   As a reminder, none of this is investment, legal, business, or tax advice; please see a16z.com/disclosures for more important information, including a link to a list of our investments.

5 July 2022


Decentralized Creativity & Collaboration

Decentralized Creativity & Collaboration

with @RMcElhenney @cdixon @smc90 This first live taping of 'web3 with a16z' took place an event hosted by a16z crypto & Adim during NFT NYC June 20, 2022 -- with special guest Rob McElhenney* in conversation with Chris Dixon and Sonal Chokshi. Given the theme of "decentralized media"/ "decentralized content creation", the conversation covers decentralized creativity and collaboration; community, creator access; IP and evolution of the internet; and where NFTs and web3 specifically comes in... do we really need web3 for this?  We also touch on topics such as the metaverse, storytelling across mediums, managing writer’s rooms, favorite TV shows, nostalgia, and much more. *Rob McElhenney is the creative force behind It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the critically-acclaimed FXX comedy series in which he co-stars and serves as executive producer and writer; the fifteenth season premiered in December 2021, breaking the record as the longest-running live-action television sitcom in history.  He  is also the creator, executive producer, and star of Mythic Quest, the acclaimed comedy series that debuted on Apple TV+ (co-created by Megan Ganz and Charlie Day, and a co-production of Ubisoft and Lionsgate Television); it was recognized as one of the best new series of 2020. McElhenney is the co-founder and co-chairperson of Adim, which brings web3 technology to creative development to build a new model and value network for creators and collaborators to have a stake in the success and evolution of what they create -- initially through a scaled network of writer's rooms and through a platform for a broad character ecosystem.  **As a reminder, none of this is investment, legal, business, or tax advice; please see a16z.com/disclosures for more important information, including a link to a list of our investments.

27 June 2022


Auction Design for web3

Auction Design for web3

with @skominers @tim_roughgarden @smc90 In this episode, we go into all things auctions – which, broadly defined, are simply ways of selling and allocating scarce things – and which applies in web3 contexts to everything from NFT mints, to blockchains themselves. (Which we also go into in this episode, including an overview of the technical challenges specific to mechanism design in a permissionless context. We also briefly cover EIP 1559).  We provide a quick overview of auction types, and incentive design, and how it works in both theory and practice -- including the nuances of market-clearing prices, gas wars, and more… sharing tradeoffs, choices, and principles for builders designing these systems throughout.  Our expert guests in conversation with host Sonal Chokshi are Scott Kominers, a16z crypto research partner and professor at Harvard Business School who specializes in market, marketplace, and incentive design; and Tim Roughgarden, head of research at a16zcrypto and professor at Columbia, who led the development of the field of algorithmic game theory -- which brings together computer science and economics to solve real-world computing problems.    This conversation includes a brief mention of lotteries, which are sometimes used in conjunction with auctions, and which we kept for educational purposes only. Note there are some questions about the legality of such mechanisms like “sweepstakes” that narrow participants by requiring them to do something to enter -- so builders should NOT use these without consulting a lawyer. As a reminder, NONE of the following is legal, business, tax, or investment advice; please see a16z.com/disclosures for more important information.

14 June 2022


Blockchains / Crypto / web3

Blockchains / Crypto / web3

with @cdixon @alive_eth @tim_roughgarden @smc90 We set some context, quickly, into the connection between blockchains, crypto, and web3 – and offer some useful analogies, and more mental models, for thinking about a blossoming area of computer science in both theory and practice.    web3 with a16z is a new podcast for anyone seeking to understand and go deeper on blockchains, crypto, and web3. It is about how users and builders -- whether artists, coders, creators, developers, companies, organizations, or communities -- now have the ability to not just "read" (web1) + "write" (web2) but "own" (web3) and build with pieces of the internet, unlocking a new wave of creativity and entrepreneurship. Brought to you by the team at a16z crypto (and the original team behind the a16z Podcast), this show features hallway conversations, discussions, interviews, oral essays, and more on the latest and leading trends in the space, including sharing research, occasional data readouts, and insights from the top scientists, and makers, in the space. It is hosted by Sonal Chokshi, longtime showrunner (2014-2022) and host of the popular a16z Podcast and network, now editor in chief at a16z crypto; as well as a rotating cast of characters from our team who appear in and occasionally co-host episodes as well. In the initial episodes, we start by setting some quick context, before we dive deep the rest of the season on topics ranging from auction design and mechanics, NFTs, security, zero knowledge, gaming, decentralized media, tokenomics, history, infrastructure, roadmaps, and much more -- in the form of everything from hallway conversations to interviews to oral essays; but as always, as is a signature of our other shows, with high density insights and respect for our listeners' time and attention. You can find show notes with links to resources, books, or papers discussed; transcripts; and more at a16zcrypto.com.  This episode was produced, and edited by Sonal Chokshi. The episode was technically edited by our audio editor Justin Golden, with thanks to longtime sound engineer Seven Morris. Credit also to Moonshot Design for the art. And special acknowledgments to Chris Dixon, founder and managing partner; CMO Kim Milosevich; and several others on our team here for their support. To follow more of our work and get updates, resources from us, and from others – be sure to subscribe to our newsletter web3 weekly; you can find it on our website at a16zcrypto.com.

31 May 2022


Methods to the Madness

Methods to the Madness

with @cdixon @eddylazzarin @smc90 A conversation about the markets and how recent events affect crypto and web3; mental models for thinking about crypto and web3, and the longer arc and evolution of technology history, open source, etc.; and methods & metrics for measuring price-innovation cycle ebbs and flows, creators in web2 vs web3, and much more -- as well as key trends that are top of mind.   web3 with a16z is a new podcast for anyone seeking to understand and go deeper on blockchains, crypto, and web3. It is about how users and builders -- whether artists, coders, creators, developers, companies, organizations, or communities -- now have the ability to not just "read" (web1) + "write" (web2) but "own" (web3) and build with pieces of the internet, unlocking a new wave of creativity and entrepreneurship. Brought to you by the team at a16z crypto (and the original team behind the a16z Podcast), this show features hallway conversations, discussions, interviews, oral essays, and more on the latest and leading trends in the space, including sharing research, occasional data readouts, and insights from the top scientists, and makers, in the space. It is hosted by Sonal Chokshi, longtime showrunner (2014-2022) and host of the popular a16z Podcast and network, now editor in chief at a16z crypto; as well as a rotating cast of characters from our team who appear in and occasionally co-host episodes as well. In the initial episodes, we start by setting some quick context, before we dive deep the rest of the season on topics ranging from auction design and mechanics, NFTs, security, zero knowledge, gaming, decentralized media, tokenomics, history, infrastructure, roadmaps, and much more -- in the form of everything from hallway conversations to interviews to oral essays; but as always, as is a signature of our other shows, with high density insights and respect for our listeners' time and attention. You can find show notes with links to resources, books, or papers discussed; transcripts; and more at a16zcrypto.com.  This episode was produced, and edited by Sonal Chokshi. The episode was technically edited by our audio editor Justin Golden, with thanks to longtime sound engineer Seven Morris. Credit also to Moonshot Design for the art. And special acknowledgments to Chris Dixon, founder and managing partner; CMO Kim Milosevich; and several others on our team here for their support. To follow more of our work and get updates, resources from us, and from others – be sure to subscribe to our newsletter web3 weekly; you can find it on our website at a16zcrypto.com.

31 May 2022


web3 with a16z, a show about the next internet

web3 with a16z, a show about the next internet

"web3 with a16z" is a show about the next generation of the internet, and about how builders and users -- whether artists, coders, creators, developers, companies, organizations, or communities -- now have the ability to not just "read" (web1) + "write" (web2) but "own" (web3) pieces of the internet, unlocking a new wave of creativity and entrepreneurship. Brought to you by a16z crypto, this show is the definitive resource for understanding and going deeper on all things crypto and web3. From discussing the latest and leading trends to sharing research, data readouts, and insights from top scientists and makers in the space, this is a variety show with a variety of formats and topics listeners can pick and choose from. It is hosted by the longtime showrunner of (and original team behind) the popular a16z Podcast. Learn more at a16zcrypto.com.

20 May 2022

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