Chris Dixon is a general partner at Andreesen Horowitz. Doesn’t sound too exciting does it.
But Chris is also the new no. 1 on Forbes 21st annual Midas List of top venture investors – thanks to his investments in Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) and the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase.
Forbes Magazine publishes its Midas List, a yearly ranking of the best dealmakers in high-tech and life science venture capital.
The organisation uses specific parameters, including the first-day market capitalisation of Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) and the opinions of a panel of experts.
Mr Dixon toped this year’s list after his early bet on crypto trading platform Coinbase amassed huge returns after the company’s IPO in April 2021 with an $85 billion market cap.
He also became famous for his investments in web3 tech, including cryptocurrency, and early this year, he was raising $4.5 billion for new funds on top of the $2.2 billion that a16x crypto raised in 2021.
Eye popping figures, right? Not for Chris.
Before becoming a venture capitalist, Mr Dixon was a successful startup founder with billions of dollars in successful sales. This includes Oculus VR, acquired by Facebook for $2 billion in 2014.
His other successful companies include Improbably (virtual reality), Zipline (drone delivery service), Uniswap (cryptocurrency marketplace, Dapper Labs (NBA Top Shot creator), and Avalanche (smart contracts protocol).
He co-founded Hunch, a recommendation tech company acquired by eBay in 2011, and SiteAdvisor, a cybersecurity company sold to McAfee.
The self-taught programmer also invested in numerous startups, including Warby Parker, Stripe, and Pinterest.
According to his Forbes profile, Mr Dixon’s interest in cognitive science and logic drove Dixon to pursue bachelor’s and master’s degrees in philosophy at Columbia University in the early 1990s. Raised to question capitalist enterprises, Dixon defied his parents by soon taking a job as a developer at a hedge fund because it paid the best.
About three years later, he went to Harvard to get his MBA and worked briefly at venture capital firm Bessemer Venture Partners.
The majority of Mr Dixon’s investments are known as moonshots.
According to techtarget.com, a moonshot is an “ambitious, exploratory and ground-breaking project undertaken without any expectation of near-term profitability or benefit and, perhaps, without a full investigation of potential risks and benefits”.
Google has adopted the term moonshot for its most innovative projects, many of which come out of the Google X, its semi-secret lab.
Google moonshots include Google Glass, Project Loon (a balloon-based Internet service project), the driverless car, augmented reality glasses, a neural network, robots for the manufacturing industry and Project Calico, a life extension project.
The term “moonshot” derives from the Apollo 11 spaceflight project, which landed the first human on the moon in 1969.
Moonshot investing is not for everyone as there’s a big risk that the technology will fail market adaptation.
Examples of moonshot technologies are space travel, self-driving cars, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, cryptocurrencies and other innovations that are not yet widely used by the general public.
But as demonstrated by Forbes’ Midas List, moonshot investing has its rewards. A dozen individuals made it to the list after investing in moonshot investments, particularly Coinbase.
Here are six Chris Dixon Moonshot investing tips
1. If everyone loves your idea, I might be worried that it’s not forward thinking enough.
2. The best predictor of success is whether there is what David Lee calls ‘founder/market fit.’ Founder/market fit means the founders have a deep understanding of the market they are entering, and are people who ‘personify their product, business, and ultimately their company.’”
3. The business of seed investing, and frankly, early-stage entrepreneurship, is so much about getting good information. And almost all of that information, unfortunately, is not published.
4. There is a widespread myth that the most important part of building a great company is coming up with a great idea. What you should really be focused on when pitching your early stage startup is pitching yourself and your team.
5. The best ideas come through direct experience. …When you differentiate your direct experience from conventional wisdom, that’s where the best startup ideas come from.
6. What the smartest people do on the weekend is what everyone else will do during the week in ten years. Hobbies are what the smartest people spend their time on when they aren’t constrained by near-term financial goals.