October 4, 2023 at 16:28 GMTModified date: October 4, 2023 at 16:28 GMT
October 4, 2023 at 16:28 GMT

a16z leads $24m Series A round for Web3 restaurant app

The venture capital firm has shown its interest in hospitality tech as it led a Series A round for Blackbird Labs.

a16z leads $24m Series A round for Web3 restaurant app

Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) has led a Series A round for a team that is behind the building of a Web3 restaurant loyalty app called Blackbird.

Blackbird Labs is a hospitality tech company whose platform helps restaurants stay in touch with guests, incentivising them to dine out more frequently.

The total funding came to $35million, with a16z leading the game with an investment of $24m. Other participants included QED, Union Square Ventures, Shine, Variant and others and restaurant groups Quality Branded, Rustic Canyon Group, Soulva and Brooks Reitz.

The app is known for its feature where it tracks customer preferences such as their likes, dislikes and seating arrangements, in addition to tracking how often the customer comes in. Customers who have repeated check-ins enjoy a “level up”, giving them access to certain perks.

Blackbird also rewards customers with a cryptocurrency. This can be redeemed for an entree, drink or other restaurant reward.

The collected proceeds from the recent funding round will be utilised towards helping Blackbird scale its operations.

Founder and CEO Ben Leventhal said: “The restaurant business model is broken. It can be really expensive to remain at the top of a sea of competition. Operational costs are also at an all-time high, and restaurants need revenue. There’s only two paths forward: creating new revenue streams or creating regulars who’ll want to come back.”

According to Leventhal, Blackbird is designed in a way to help restaurants both amplify their reach and reward guests. With the knowledge of their personal preferences, restaurants can serve guests in an “unparalleled fashion, making them feel like they’re very important and appreciated regulars”, said the founder.

The American venture capital firm, on the other hand, was founded in 2009 by Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz. As of April 2023, it ranks first on the list of venture capital firms by assets under management and is known for investing in “bold founders, innovators, and entrepreneurs”.

In its first push overseas, the firm chose London as the location of its first office outside of the US. As per reports, this office would focus on crypto and blockchain start-ups.

Andreessen Horowitz had already committed $7.6bn in capital globally to this side of the field. There have also been plans of running a Crypto Startup School accelerator programme early next year. This would be a part of its broader set of initiatives intended to boost the local fintech community.

This move came on the back of a renewed regulatory clampdown in the US. As noted by a16z’s crypto founder Chris Dixon, the UK policymakers and regulators are taking an approach that is “uniquely tailored to blockchain and digital asset regulation”.

He added: “While there is still work to be done, we believe that the UK is on the right path to becoming a leader in crypto regulation. The UK also has deep pools of talent, world-leading academic institutions, and a strong entrepreneurial culture. It is home to more unicorns than Germany, France, and Sweden combined; to some of the world’s largest financial markets and pools of capital; and to highly-sophisticated, world-class regulators. All of these make the UK strongly positioned to lead in web3.”