a16z Podcast

Crypto, an Oral Essay

Dan Boneh, Chris Dixon, Scott Kupor, Eddy Lazzarin, Alex Pruden, Arianna Simpson, Jesse Walden, Linda Xie, Ali Yahya, Sonal Chokshi, and Zoran Basich

Posted April 18, 2021

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.