Interview with a16z General Partner Martin Casado as the company rolls out a new $400M fund focused on seed investments (Connie Loizos/TechCrunch)

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Andreessen Horowitz has begun to announce new funds almost as routinely as some startups have begun announcing follow-on rounds. After announcing a third biotech fund in February 2020 that’s currently investing $750 million, a pair of new funds totaling $4.5 billion last November and, most recently, a new $2.2 billion crypto-focused fund, the firm is rolling out a brand new fund: a $400 million vehicle that is focused expressly on backing seed-stage companies.

In the broader historical context of the firm, it’s an interesting development. Many years ago, Andreessen Horowitz walked away from writing seed checks to avoid the appearance of conflicts of interest — even while the firm didn’t have a conflict policy around nascent deals. As Marc Andreessen explained it in 2013, there is often too much uncertainty at the earliest stages of company formation, and though the firm conveyed this thinking to founders, they didn’t always listen, and bets that evolved to be similar made them feel bad and caused problems.

Of course, things changed over time, competition is competition and, before long, the firm was again writing checks to very young startups. In fact, today, not only have seed-stage investments again become very much part of the program, but since the beginning of 2020, about half the firm’s investments have been in seed companies, according to a16z. Indeed, General Partner Martin Casado said yesterday that the new fund is largely about optimizing its processes around seed deals, and ensuring investors are rewarded properly for the associated risk. Here’s some of that conversation, edited lightly for length.

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