Why one of Silicon Valley's most famous venture capital firms will no longer be a venture capital firm

Key Points
  • Venture firm Andreessen Horowitz filed to become a registered investment advisor so that it can have more flexibility to put money in crypto and other assets.
  • The shift comes as venture investing reaches record levels, thanks to huge funds like SoftBank's $100 billion Vision Fund.
  • According to Forbes, Andreessen is raising a growth fund that will pull in $2 billion to $2.5 billion.
Andreessen Horowitz partner Marc Andreessen.
Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

Andreessen Horowitz will soon cease to be a venture capital firm, veering away from the majority of its Sand Hill Road neighbors in Silicon Valley to instead become a registered investment advisor, or RIA.

The 10-year-old firm, founded by Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz, filed in March to become an RIA, as it seeks greater flexibility in its investments, particularly when it comes to cryptocurrencies, said Margit Wennmachers, an operating partner at the firm. Forbes first reported on the change.

Venture capital firms are limited in their ability to invest outside of the traditional start-up landscape, a market that's become inundated with record amounts of cash, thanks to massive funds like SoftBank's $100 billion Vision Fund. By becoming an RIA, Andreessen can put more money into areas like crypto, which often involves the purchase of tradeable coins as opposed to equity, and can more freely allow analysts in different areas to communicate with each other, rather than being walled off.

"As a firm, we have this massive ambition to be the best investor period, and want the flexibility to invest in what we think is the best investment," Wennmachers said.

Last year the firm raised its first crypto fund, with $300 million in capital committed. Wennmachers said that during the process of setting up that fund, Andreessen decided to register as an RIA. The change should become official this month, she said, after the 45-day processing period for the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Confetti falls as Lyft CEO Logan Green (C) rings the Nasdaq opening bell celebrating the company's initial public offering (IPO) on March 29, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
Mario Tama | Getty Images

As part of the shift, employees will have to go through background checks and register their investment holdings. They'll also be more restricted in what they can trade individually and how they talk about financial performance.

The firm will still be doing plenty of private company investing, and is in the process of raising a growth fund of $2 billion to $2.5 billion that's expected to close in the next few weeks, Forbes reported. Andreessen is close to seeing some of its biggest returns, with Slack, Pinterest and Airbnb all in the pipeline to go public. The firm owns a $1 billion stake in Lyft, after last week's IPO, and owns 18 percent of software company PagerDuty, which is set to debut soon.

Wennmachers said that Andreessen will continue to raise dedicated crypto funds as well as bio funds, which invest in companies focused on using biology and machine learning to develop wearables, diagnostics and therapeutics. The firm's main fund will continue to focus on consumer and enterprise technologies.

-CNBC's Ari Levy contributed to this report.

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