Simpson became interested in the digital asset space during a trip to Zimbabwe in 2013. She observed the effects of the country’s rampant hyperinflation and the high fees people incurred when sending money. She saw the potential for social and economic change that cryptocurrencies could provide and has worked in the crypto industry ever since.
She is known for being highly successful at a young age, starting her first venture capital firm at age 24 and making partner at Andreessen Horowitz at 30.
Simpson is passionate about blockchain technology and decentralized finance (DeFi), with a particular interest in crypto games and decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs). “It’s such a rich design space that brings together so many areas, from cryptography to game theory to computer science and a lot more,” she said in an interview.
Simpson was born in 1991 and grew up in Milan, Italy. She graduated from Pennsylvania State University, where she studied international politics and Spanish. After college, she worked in operations at an e-commerce company before joining Facebook in their global marketing solutions department.
Role in the cryptocurrency community
Simpson took a trip to southern Africa in 2013, visiting Zimbabwe and five other countries. She observed the effect of hyperinflation on the country that devastated the economy and forced the government to move to the US dollar. After she returned from her trip, she sponsored a Zimbabwean family and was surprised at the large fees (as high as 25%) she incurred sending money using Western Union.
Simpson discussed the situation with a friend who mentioned Bitcoin as a countermeasure to inflation. She began researching cryptocurrencies and was blown away by the Bitcoin whitepaper and described it as “the most unique thing [she] had ever seen in the technology world.”
Early crypto work
Following this discovery, Simpson left Facebook to join BitGo, a digital asset trust and security company. She first worked as an account specialist then as a product lead.
After BitGo, she helped launch Crystal Towers Capital, an early-stage investment fund for Y Combinator companies. She also founded Autonomous Partners, a crypto hedge and venture capitalist fund, that focused on blockchain companies. The fund invested in Talos, a crypto trading platform, and Dapper Labs, a gaming and NFT blockchain company.
Andreessen Horowitz was impressed with Simpson’s work at Autonomous Partners and her knowledge of the crypto market. They recruited her to work on the firm’s cryptocurrency funds. She joined as a Deal Partner and was promoted to General Partner a year later. She joins Katie Haun, another prominent crypto investor, in overseeing the funds.
In May 2022, Andreessen Horowitz announced a fourth crypto fund, totaling $4.5 billion, bringing the firm’s cryptocurrency and Web3 investments to $7.6 billion.
The funds cover various areas of the crypto space, including Web3 games, NFTs, DeFi, decentralized social media, blockchain infrastructure, DAOs and governance, and privacy, among others.
The firm has stakes in many companies, including Dapper Labs, OpenSea (an NFT marketplace) Alchemy (a blockchain development platform), and Irreverent Labs (an e-sports and gaming company).
Gaming and NFTs
Simpson has been particularly interested in the NFT and gaming space for a long time, saying that game environments often lead the trends in technology and are an ideal playground for testing new tools.
Further, she believes they are a critical area of the market, noting that games bring people to the NFT and crypto space. “I’ve spoken to many folks who said, ‘Oh, I first got into crypto because I started playing Axie Infinity.’ It’s an important way for people to get onboarded and educated about the technology and what it can do.”
Investing in crypto
Simpson invested in Bitcoin early on and has been vocal about investing during crypto “downturns” or bear markets. She noted that this is a time when the real work is done – entrepreneurs are innovating new ideas and releasing new technologies. She encourages investors to take a long view of the crypto market when making investment decisions.
Arianna Simpson essentials
- Arianna Simpson is a well-known crypto investor, entrepreneur, and Web3 advocate.
- She is currently a General Partner at venture capital form Andreessen Horowitz, overseeing a multi-billion crypto fund.
- Simpson has a particular interest in the NFT and crypto gaming space.