Following are excerpts from the unofficial transcript of a CNBC EXCLUSIVE interview with Katie Haun, Andreessen Horowitz General Partner, from the CNBC Delivering Alpha Conference, which took place on Wednesday, September 29th.
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Haun On Bitcoin Prices
While people focus I think sometimes often myopically on prices, including on bitcoin prices – we try to step back and look at other signals that we see in the market – in the crypto markets – that we view as kind of leading indicators. And one of those leading indicators is developer activity. Another indicator that we always look to is kind of the talent coming into the space.
Haun On The New Digital Economy
I'm not surprised how far bitcoin has come. I am surprised how broad the crypto ecosystem has become. I had no idea back in those days that we would have essentially programmable money. You know, ethereum came onto the scene in 2015 and what that would unlock. And then fast forward to today, we have things like non fungible tokens and we are talking about an entirely new digital economy, so I am surprised at the breath of crypto.
Haun On Crypto Regulation
There's still such a focus on the financial applications of the crypto ecosystem and that makes sense. It makes sense regulators would, you know, think of crypto as synonymous really with financial use cases. Why? Well, because bitcoin was the granddaddy of them all. It kind of launched a thousand different experiments in the crypto ecosystem. But I think regulators really need to take stock of the fact that we're beyond just financial use cases. There's much more to crypto than that.
Haun On Regulation Myths
Regulation cannot be one size fits all. We think regulation plays a really important role. A lot of people – there's a myth out there that, you know, those in the crypto industry don't want regulation. And that is actually I can say a myth. It's not that the industry does not want regulation. I always say it wants clarity. But it also does not want to be treated as a monolith. Like, if you think about something like an NFT or a token, essentially a digital collectible right now…like what would have been in the old days been an equivalent in a real life kind of baseball card, why should that be regulated as a financial product and service? We don’t think it should be.
Haun On The SEC And Treasury
Obviously, Chairman Gensler comes with a background in certain aspects of cryptocurrency. So that's very important. And I think that the one thing when I think about regulation and the SEC I think about, is just really the need for even application. And I think, zooming out, you know, there's this myth that there's the Wild West and that no agencies have any regulation that speaks to crypto. And that's not the case. You know, Treasury was very pioneering in 2013, Kate. You know, put out actually guidance on cryptocurrencies. And a lot of innovators and responsible actors and companies in the space started following that guidance, although it was difficult to implement.
Haun On Regulation And Chairman Gensler
I think there is a sense on the part of some in the industry that those who were trying to make good faith efforts, who were going above and beyond in terms of compliance, and what they thought was required, are the ones kind of as regulators are now dialing into this new very growing industry. They are the ones that are being really examined under the microscope. While other kind of innovators out there or platforms are essentially – which made very little effort in terms of following regulations and laws – are really getting a free pass. And I think what we need is we need, you know, even application. I think that's really important and I'm hopeful that the SEC will do that. And that under Chairman Gensler leadership that will happen.
Haun On NFTs And The Digital Economy
We're going to start seeing a shift in consumer expectations around what it means to own digital goods in a way that will be very important in years to come. But NFTs we don't need to wait years to come because there are two important things that are going on right now, Kate, that I think viewers need to be aware of. And one of them is generational. It’s kids, it’s teenagers. And today, they are very comfortable with the idea that they spend money on digital goods that they cannot hold in their hands. And I think this is a really fundamental concept. You know, in many cases, they prefer to spend money on things that are digital. And why is that? Because increasingly, we live in a world where it's about your presence online. What are you displaying online? What is your avatar? What is your online persona? Whereas some of us in different generations might have thought about, you know, what kind of car we drive or what kind of clothes we wear.
Haun On DeFi
With any kind of new technology, I mean, zooming out thinking about what's special about DeFi. And we have something special about it is that it is about removing barriers. And right now, I think the state of DeFi is you know, it is a lot of people that are very crypto native that are using it, but I think in the years to come that will change. And that will change because a lot of people aren’t served by today’s financial system, but I’m not going to sit here and tell you or your viewers that there’s no risk in DeFi. Of course, as with any technology, there’s always risk. But I think it's really important not to throw out the great things about the technology and the promise it holds just because there’s some risk.
Haun On Competition In China And Stablecoins
This is an opportunity for the United States, because we should be doing the exact opposite in my mind in this realm of what China's doing. And you know, they will, make no doubt about it, we believe, tie trade, tie loans, tie other assistance to the use of their, essentially, stablecoin. And meanwhile, the U.S. – you know, I’m glad we are studying as a country CBDCs, but we've publicly said as a country that we're going to keep studying it for a couple of years. And meanwhile, this innovation is continuing afoot. So I think it's really important that policymakers and private industry in the U.S. work together.