Have you ever made a friend of an enemy? Was there ever anyone or anything that you just couldn’t stand, yet you wound up becoming inseparable down the line? People like Katie Haun can relate to this story.
Katie Haun: Why She Now Loves BTC
Haun is a former federal prosecutor that had been required to examine mafia cases and other major crimes that were plaguing the rural U.S. At one point, an employer adamantly requested that she study bitcoin and see if there was a plausible way of “shutting it down.”
This was in the year 2012. At the time, bitcoin was still very new. Its whitepaper had only been introduced a few years back in 2009, and the currency was only trading for a few cents. Thus, it wouldn’t have appeared that bitcoin could be so dangerous or even have that much potential at first.
Nevertheless, her employer felt differently. Haun was charged with looking at bitcoin to see what its properties were and if there was a way of stopping it before it became too late. During her studies, she learned a lot about the currency, and soon realized that it wasn’t bitcoin that needed to be stopped, but rather some of the people seeking to use it.
During this period, she learned a lot about online black markets, and realized that many individuals were using bitcoin to potentially purchase illicit goods such as firearms, drugs and contraband. She moved forward in prosecuting cases against some of these individuals, but her curiosity about bitcoin pushed her further. More studies led her into a role she never thought possible: the first female partner at Andreesen Horowitz and running the company’s $350 million crypto fund.
While Haun had always wanted to be a prosecutor, she admits that the work, over time, became a little overbearing, and that all that exposure to violent crimes and malicious actors ultimately took its toll on her. She recalls one specific case in which she was prosecuting both the Hell’s Angels and Mongols biker gangs when she decided it was time for a change:
After the bike murder trial, I was looking to so something else. I was exhausted. I changed my focus away from more of the violent criminal enterprises to some more of the kind of cyber security, white collar criminal organizations.
One Thing Leads to Another
This is around the time that she was first introduced to BTC. She recalls being fascinated by blockchain:
The government was able to use that same technology to actually track down criminal activity it might not otherwise have been able to. Without the technology underlying bitcoin, we never would have been able to catch those people.
Aside from working with Andreesen Horowitz, Haun has also served as one of Libra’s earliest supporters and developers.