Discovera16z PodcastCrypto, an Oral Essay
Crypto, an Oral Essay

Crypto, an Oral Essay

Update: 2021-04-174


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:

The Beginning

  • Introduction — Zoran Basich, a16z crypto editor
  • Before bitcoin: previous attempts to create digital money, 1:45Dan Boneh, computer science professor at Stanford and a16 advisor 
  • The core innovations of Satoshi’s white paper, 3:36Dan Boneh 
  • Proof of work, 5:36Alex Pruden, chief strategy officer at Aleo Systems and former a16z crypto partner 
  • Mining and why it’s important, 7:10Alex Pruden 
  • The history of mining, 8:20Alex Pruden 
  • Value in monetary systems, or why bitcoin is worth anything, 9:53Arianna Simpson, a16z crypto partner 
  • Bitcoin as store of value, 11:30Arianna Simpson 
  • Security in crypto, 12:45Alex Pruden 


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

Right Now

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

The Future

  • The big picture, web3, and DAOs, 35:38Chris 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.

This content is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be relied upon as legal, business, investment, or tax advice. You should consult your own advisers as to those matters. References to any securities or digital assets are for illustrative purposes only, and do not constitute an investment recommendation or offer to provide investment advisory services. Furthermore, this content is not directed at nor intended for use by any investors or prospective investors, and may not under any circumstances be relied upon when making a decision to invest in any fund managed by a16z. (An offering to invest in an a16z fund will be made only by the private placement memorandum, subscription agreement, and other relevant documentation of any such fund and should be read in their entirety.) Any investments or portfolio companies mentioned, referred to, or described are not representative of all investments in vehicles managed by a16z, and there can be no assurance that the investments will be profitable or that other investments made in the future will have similar characteristics or results. A list of investments made by funds managed by Andreessen Horowitz (excluding investments for which the issuer has not provided permission for a16z to disclose publicly as well as unannounced investments in publicly traded digital assets) is available at

Charts and graphs provided within are for informational purposes solely and should not be relied upon when making any investment decision. Past performance is not indicative of future results. The content speaks only as of the date indicated. Any projections, estimates, forecasts, targets, prospects, and/or opinions expressed in these materials are subject to change without notice and may differ or be contrary to opinions expressed by others. Please see for additional important information.









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Crypto, an Oral Essay

Crypto, an Oral Essay

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