Crypto, an Oral Essay

    This is a special episode of the a16z podcast — it’s an audio history, told through the voices of the a16z crypto team, about what crypto is, how it really works, and why it matters. This “innovation overview” is meant as a resource, and it features hallway-style conversations with the a16z team as well as outside experts.

    In brief segments, we’ll take you from the ground up — from the basics, to the most current developments, and beyond that to a look at what we might see in the future. 

    Here are the topics and voices you’ll hear, with timestamps of the segments included for easy navigation:

    The Beginning

    • Introduction — Zoran Basich, a16z crypto editor
    • Before bitcoin: previous attempts to create digital money (1:45) — Dan Boneh, computer science professor at Stanford and a16z advisor 
    • The core innovations of Satoshi’s white paper (3:36) — Dan Boneh 
    • Proof of work (5:36) — Alex Pruden, chief strategy officer at Aleo Systems and former a16z crypto partner 
    • Mining and why it’s important (7:10) — Alex Pruden 
    • The history of mining (8:20) — Alex Pruden 
    • Value in monetary systems, or why bitcoin is worth anything (9:53) — Arianna Simpson, a16z crypto partner 
    • Bitcoin as store of value (11:30) — Arianna Simpson 
    • Security in crypto (12:45) — Alex Pruden 


    • Why is it called a blockchain? (14:00) — Eddy Lazzarin, a16z data scientist 
    • Why the blockchain matters and what you can do with it (15:09) — Chris Dixon, a16z general partner 
    • Beyond bitcoin (17:01) — Eddy Lazzarin 
    • Ethereum as logical extension of open source (17:36) — Eddy Lazzarin 
    • Tokens: What are they? (19:04) — Eddy Lazzarin 
    • Tokens and the functions they serve (19:53) — Scott Kupor, a16z managing partner
    • Tokens and the ownership economy (21:19) — Jesse Walden, Variant Fund founder, former a16z partner, and Mediachain founder 
    • What tokens enable for creators (22:18) — Ali Yahya, a16z general partner 

    Right Now

    • What DeFi means (23:58) — Eddy Lazzarin 
    • Yield farming: What is it? (25:16) — Eddy Lazzarin 
    • NFTs: What they are and why they matter (27:15) — Linda Xie, Scalar Capital managing director, and Jesse Walden 
    • Developer ecosystems, crypto, and composability (30:17) — Jesse Walden 
    • Decentralized networks, value capture, and what it means for builders (33:05) — Ali Yahya 

    The Future

    • The big picture, web3, and DAOs (35:38) — Chris Dixon 

    For more crypto resources, please see our Crypto Startup School page, our documentary about the program, and our NFT Canon.


    The views expressed here are those of the individual AH Capital Management, L.L.C. (“a16z”) personnel quoted and are not the views of a16z or its affiliates. Certain information contained in here has been obtained from third-party sources, including from portfolio companies of funds managed by a16z. While taken from sources believed to be reliable, a16z has not independently verified such information and makes no representations about the enduring accuracy of the information or its appropriateness for a given situation. In addition, this content may include third-party advertisements; a16z has not reviewed such advertisements and does not endorse any advertising content contained therein.

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