Opinion

A Crypto Optimist Meets a Crypto Skeptic

Produced by ‘The Ezra Klein Show’

I’ve been wanting to explore the world crypto and blockchain technologies could build on the show for a while. In certain ways, I’m an optimist: I think these technologies matter, and many of them will work. In other ways, I’m a skeptic: I’m unconvinced that their wide adoption will lead to the glittering, decentralized digital world that many crypto proponents imagine.

So this is a crypto conversation that goes way beyond Bitcoin. It’s about what will happen when we build the foundation for truly digital economies, with digital money, digital goods, and digital ownership. It’s about technologies that could unlock a renaissance of creativity or an orgy of commercialization. Or both. And it’s about whether we are mistaking problems of power for problems of technology, and what might happen if we fix the technologies without changing the power structures. As everyone in this debate agrees, we made a lot of mistakes with the internet we have. How do we avoid them on the internet we’re building?

[You can listen to this episode of “The Ezra Klein Show” on Apple, Spotify, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.]

My guest today is Katie Haun. Haun is a general partner at the venture firm A16Z, also known as Andreessen-Horowitz. She’s a former Supreme Court clerk and federal prosecutor who has focused on cybercrime and prosecuted corrupt agents involved in Silk Road, the first big darknet market. So she saw the dark side of crypto first, and now, at A16Z, she’s a leader of one of the biggest crypto venture funds there is. So this is a conversation about the world crypto might create, conducted with as little technical jargon as we could manage. Enjoy!

I also want to note that this will be the last episode I host until January. I’m going on paternity leave for the next few months, and we’re going to have an absolutely all-star lineup of guest hosts while I’m gone. That lineup will include Jamelle Bouie, Ross Douthat, Tressie McMillan Cottom, Nicole Hemmer, Heather McGhee, David Brooks, Julia Galef and the one and only Rogé Karma. I’m excited to be a listener, and trust me, you should be, too.

One last bit of housekeeping: The Times’s Opinion section is looking for an editorial assistant to work with Michelle Goldberg and me on fact-checking our columns and doing some editorial research and clerical work. This is a great, entry-level role at The Times. It needs a year of journalism experience, and on my end, I’m particularly looking for candidates with a demonstrable obsession with policy analysis and social science research. You can find more information here.

You can listen to our whole conversation by following “The Ezra Klein Show” on Apple, Spotify, Google or wherever you get your podcasts. View a list of book recommendations from our guests here.

(A full transcript of the episode will be available midday on the Times website.)

Credit…Andreessen Horowitz

“The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

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