T Skevington and M Bacina
DeFi decentralisation boom sees renewed VC interest
Former Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) investor Jesse Walden has announced the launch of a new venture capital firm called 'Variant Fund', focusing on blockchain platforms which decentralise ownership among users.
Renewed venture capital interest in the space is hardly surprising, with decentralised platforms going through something of a renaissance at the moment. With platforms like Compound, Uniswap, Synthetix and the like currently going from strength to strength, Walden argues that:
As user participation becomes evermore mainstream and complex, the next step is platforms that are not only built, operated, and funded by users, but owned by users too
Walden summarises this transfer of value with the below:
Notwithstanding the potential of these platforms, there are still a large number of unresolved legal issues around these platforms, particularly were users are given ownership and governance rights which, a lot like shareholder rights. While many platform operators might hope that pursuing maximum decentralisation and user growth will allow them to become "too big to fail", it will be interesting to see whether Walden and other VC's can pick these winners.
In comments to CoinDesk, Walden confirmed that Variant Fund is backed by a16z’s Chris Dixon and Marc Andreessen, Union Square Ventures and Compound’s Robert Leshner, all of whom are:
mentors I respect and have built relationships with over the years as both an entrepreneur and investor.
Although Variant Fund has reportedly already made a number of early investments, they have yet to be announced. It remains unclear how much Variant Fund has or intends to raise for its first fund, and what its ideal investment stake will be. What is clear is that the movement towards commonly owned platforms relying on interlocking incentives and decentralised infrastructure will continue to grow.