Haun Ventures is riding the bitcoin high

The firm invested $5M in Agora, a front-end solution for Dao governance, this week

Blockchain startups were red-hot when Katie Haun left Andreessen Horowitz in 2021 to launch her own crypto-focused venture firm. But shortly after Haun announced that Haun Ventures’ two funds totalled $1.5 billion, cryptocurrency prices cratered, and FTX collapsed. 

Despite having a massive arsenal of dry powder, Haun Ventures didn’t rush to scoop up stakes in crypto and web3 on the cheap, and many observers wondered when the firm would pick up its deployment pace.

While Haun Ventures says it wasn’t exactly sitting on its hands (and capital) through crypto’s downturn, the firm was perhaps more cautious than it initially intended. 

But now that bitcoin prices have rebounded to their previous highs, Haun Ventures’ investment activity is increasing dramatically. Including some of its token positions, the firm has made 48 investments across its early-stage $500 million and $1 billion later-stage acceleration funds, Haun Ventures told TechCrunch. 

The firm’s latest investment is Agora, an app that streamlines voting and other decision-making for decentralized autonomous organizations. The firm led a $5 million seed round into Agora on Tuesday, with participation from Seed Club, Coinbase Ventures, Balaji Srinivasan and others.

Sam Rosenblum, a partner and investment team lead at Haun Ventures, said that a significant impediment to DAO participation had been the lack of a simple user interface that allows members to approve (or vote on) the implementation of software upgrades to the protocols they are governing.

The process was highly fragmented. Certain decisions were made in a separate Discord channel, then “you then [the community would] go somewhere else to take a vote on allocating dollars in the treasury towards a certain project,” Rosenblum said. 

Agora solves this issue for DAO members by providing an easy-to-use community and protocol governance solution. “Historically, if you wanted to participate in resource allocation of a protocol treasury, you had to do a bunch of on-chain actions yourself, which probably means you have hardware and software setup that most people don’t have,” Rosenblum said. 

Agora is supposed to make DAO participation straightforward for non-technical users. Rosenblum compared it to Coinbase, which simplified coin trading for most people.

The company was founded in 2022 by Charlie Feng, who co-founded fintech Clearco; Coinbase product designer Yitong Zhang; and software engineer Kent Fenwick. 

Agora, which is essentially a SaaS offering, is already used by protocols such as Optimism, ENS and Uniswap.

Rosenblum explained that these protocols are happy to pay for Agora because it helps lower the barrier to participation in their community. 

While activity is certainly accelerating in the crypto world, Rosenblum didn’t say exactly when Haun Ventures will be done deploying its current fund. But he did say that investing will continue into next year.

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