The incredible Bitcoin price rally in 2017 burnished the idea of a cryptocurrency into the consciousness of the mainstream populace. It took cryptocurrency out of the techie or nerd fringe into everybody’s lips and minds. Now, even the less tech-savvy “average Joe” is considering pumping some cash into crypto-investments, be it in cryptocurrency mining or in speculation on the exchanges.
While we're far from "mass adoption", slowly but surely, cryptocurrencies are growing closer and closer to fiat currencies in acceptance. Some can be used in ecommerce and even brick-and-mortar stores. There are cryptocurrency ATMs in some of the world’s smartest cities as well as a host of blockchain-powered innovations that are revolutionizing business processes. But who are the biggest names in the blockchain space that made this happen?
Here is a list of top ten movers and shakers in the crypto-world who have been instrumental in shaping it:
Satoshi Nakamoto is the mysterious creator of Bitcoin. There's lots of speculation about who he actually is but what is not in dispute is that the person behind the name or pseudo-name is the original inventor of Bitcoin. The first ever Bitcoin paper was published in his name and he also created the first ever block on the Bitcoin blockchain. There are those who even suggest that Satoshi Nakamoto is a group of people but this theory has been discounted by the fact that the original Bitcoin code written by Satoshi was quite unique and probably the work of a single individual.
All other suggestions flying around about his actual identity have simply been wild speculations. What has at least been confirmed is he published the paper “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System” in 2008. In 2010, he sent a message to a crypto mailing list that he was quitting the project to deal with “more important things”. Currently, it is estimated that he owns between 980,000 and 1 million bitcoins. Were he to trade his coins for cash, he would be worth more than $11 billion, making him one of the richest people in the world.
Roger Ver is a Bitcoin angel investor and evangelist and is one of the most remarkable names in the crypto space. He began investing in Bitcoin and related startups as far back as 2011 and was one of the first Bitcoin millionaires. Roger dropped out of De Anza College in 2011 after just one year and plunged himself into business, selling firecrackers via eBay. Because the sale of these is banned in the U.S. he was jailed for 10 months in 2005 and when he was released in 2006, he renounced his US citizenship and moved to Japan. He describes himself as an anarcho-capitalist and his political views are libertarian.
He started actively investing in Bitcoin back in 2011 and founded the Bitcoin Foundation in 2012. He owns the cryptocurrency wallet service Bitcoin.com and is currently an avid supporter of Bitcoin Cash. Roger has been involved in the seed rounds of various startups including BitPay.com, Blockchain.info, LocalBitcoins.com, Kraken.com, Bitstamp.net and Bitcoincharts.com among many others. He speaks regularly on cryptocurrency matters in various forums around the world.
Max Keiser is one of the most famous crypto-influencers in the media. He's a broadcaster and financial expert who hosts the popular “Keiser Report” on RT. He has worked with various global media organizations such as the BBC, Aljazeera and the Iranian TV Channel Press TV. He has railed against Wall Street and some of the biggest symbols of Western Capitalism such as JP Morgan Chase. It is therefore only natural that Max has been one of the biggest advocates for Bitcoin because he sees it as the revolutionary solution required to break the backs of the owners of global capital. His shows are always electrifying and are a big hit with many anarcho-capitalists. Max is credited with perhaps making more bitcoin millionaires than anyone else, after promoting it to so many people in its infancy.
Mike Novogratz is a former Wall Street hedge fund manager who dumped his position near the peak of global finance to jump into the crypto world. Mike joined Goldman Sachs in 1988 and stayed there for a decade, rising to become a partner at the investment banking firm. He made and lost a fortune at Wall Street. At his peak, he was worth more than $2 billion before losing much of it. He joined Fortress Investments before founding his cryptocurrency investment fund Galaxy Investment Partners. In 2013, he jumped into the cryptocurrency bandwagon by investing more than $7 million in cryptocurrency at a time when Bitcoin was worth just over $100. He made a massive fortune from this when a few years later, the value of Bitcoin rose more than 80 times! Mike also launched a $150 million cryptocurrency hedge fund through which he finances various crypto startups and initiatives. He has recently invested $15 million in a white-label crypto exchange startup called AlphaPoint.
Novogratz is an especially important figure in the cryptocurrency news because he comes from Wall Street and was so successful there before changing focus to cryptos. His opinions are often covered in mainstream media and from his unique position he can reach the ears of both worlds.
Joseph Lubin is a Canadian entrepreneur who is best known as the co-founder of the cryptocurrency Ethereum which is currently the second most popular after Bitcoin, with a market capitalization of more than $50 billion. He also founded a software development studio called ConsenSys that is focused on furthering the development of Ethereum. ConsenSys is currently one of the fastest growing application development companies in the cryptocurrency space. Apart from his work at Ethereum and Ethereum Foundation, Lubin is also involved in advancing solutions surrounding various governance issues in the blockchain space.
32 year old Jihan Wu is THE Bitcoin mining king. Wu co-founded Bitmain, which is currently the largest cryptocurrency mining firm in the world. Coindesk has ranked him as one of the most influential figures in blockchain. In 2017 alone, his cryptocurrency mining firm grossed $2.5 billion in revenues mainly through the sales of specialized cryptocurrency mining hardware. The company also owns and operates Antpool, one of the largest cryptocurrency mining pools, as well as BTC.com. Wu controls 60% of the mining conglomerate together with his co-CEO and co-founder of the company Micree Zahn. Currently, Bitmain is valued at $12 billion.
Jihan is a favorite punching bag of Bitcoin purists, who accuse him of profiteering, centralization, monopolization, and other sins against the ideals that Bitcoin was founded upon.
Dan Larimer is a visionary software programmer and the creator of the cryptocurrency platform Bitshares. Dan is also the software architect and engineer behind other innovative blockchain powered platforms such as the blockchain-based social media platform Steem and the blockchain software architecture EOS. He also invented the stablecoin BitUSD, a trustless crypto coin that is pegged to the dollar.
Dan has crafted various innovative systems in this niche and is known to always be ready to jump to a newer blockchain project once his current one seems to be standing. With his skill and leadership, he has been one of the key architects of the exponential growth of cryptocurrency systems. On top of his software development work, Dan is also the CEO of a cryptocurrency consulting firm called Cryptonomex which he co-founded with his dad, Stan Larimer.
He is a former child actor and venture capitalist who pioneered the market for cryptocurrencies. He founded and became the managing partner for the venture capital firm Blockchain Capital (BCC) which has invested in more than thirty blockchain-powered technologies over the past five years. Pierce is also involved in a myriad other blockchain or crypto startups including Plug and Play, BlockStreet, BitGo, Tether, Blade Financial, GoCoin and Coin Congress where he serves in various capacities such as a founder, advisor, mentor or board member.
He speaks widely on all blockchain matters in various forums and serves on the board of Bitcoin Foundation. Since his foray into cryptocurrency angel investing, he has raised more than $200 million in capital and has been involved in more than thirty acquisitions in this space. He's a principal backer of EOS, and is part of a movement to create an entire cryptocurrency city and economy in Puerto Rico.
Russian-Canadian Vitalik Buterin is the boy genius who created Ethereum, the first smart contract blockchain. He developed an interest in Bitcoin thanks to his father and soon drafted a white paper in late 2013 on the need for a scripting language in Bitcoin for application development. When he failed to get consensus from the community around his ideas, he created a proposal for the development of a new cryptocurrency platform with a general scripting language, Solidity. It is this that birthed the idea of Ethereum. Apart from his work on Ethereum, Vitalik has also widely contributed on various other open source software development projects in the blockchain space.
Andreas is one of the world's top crypto-influencers. He's an educator, public speaker, best-selling author and one of the best known bitcoin and open blockchain experts. Andreas is particularly known for his electrifying talks covering everything from technology to psychology, where he seamlessly blends together key issues around blockchain. Those that are looking for an exposition into the philosophical underpinnings of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies will certainly love the effortless way in which Andreas transliterates these issues.
On top of his public speaking, he is also a best-selling author. One of his most popular books is Mastering Bitcoin, which was published by O’Reilly Media. The book has been touted as one of the best technical guides on Bitcoin. He has also written The Internet of Money and The Internet of Money Part II and his latest book, Mastering Ethereum. Andreas has also appeared in various FinTech committees in both Australia and Canada.
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