The cryptocurrency and blockchain world is evolving at an alarming rate.
It’s so current that if your crypto-project started back in 2015, it’s considered ancient technology. Every day dozens of ICOs launch, with millionaires being made on the daily. With this constant evolution and a revolving door of founders, CEOs and blockchain gurus, who, in 2018, can we view as a mainstay, or as a real industry influence?
We’ve handpicked 10 people that we think you should know about.
In no particular order…
Vitalik Buterin – The greatest mind?
As the co-founder of Ethereum and Bitcoin Magazine, the Russian-Canadain programmer is seen as one of the greatest minds in the ‘cryptosphere’. Buterin started out as a programmer and writer, producing his first articles in exchange for 5 bitcoins each (which would now be about $50,000 per piece). He became a co-founder of Bitcoin Magazine based on his Bitcoin blogging abilities.
Vitalik later invented Ethereum as he felt that Bitcoin didn’t offer a scripting language for application development. He has also had a hand in many other projects, including Kryptokit, pybitcointools, multisig.info, btckeysplit, DarkWallet, Bitcoin Python libraries, and the cryptocurrency marketplace site Egora.
Nick Szabo – The legal genius?
Szabo invented the concept of smart contracts, and has been working as a computer scientist, cryptographer and legal scholar since the 1990s. Assumed by many as the true identity of Satoshi Nakamura (the unknown inventor of Bitcoin), he denies these reports and goes about his work in cryptography and micropayment technology.
You can learn more about Nick in his interview with Tim Ferris.
Charlie Lee – The idea generator?
Charlie is busy, he’s the creator of Litecoin and Litepay, as well as being the former Director of Engineering at Coinbase. His childhood was pretty interesting, being born in the Ivory Coast to parents from Shanghai, before moving to the US and studying at the prestigious MIT. Lee built Litecoin back in 2011, based on the Bitcoin architecture, but four times more efficient (which is why there are 84m Litecoins compared to Bitcoin’s 21m).
Lee is an influencer for many reasons, but one thing that stands out is his dedication to push the industry forward through technology and ethics, something he proved by donating his entire Litecoin stash after being accused of using his influence to affect prices for personal gain. His work for Coinbase has enabled countless wannabe traders to enter the market, and his work with Litepay could change everything in regards to brick and mortar businesses entering the cryptosphere!
Andreas Antonopolous – The most trusted voice?
British-Greek Bitcoin advocate and host of Let’s Talk Bitcoin podcast (which now has 358 episodes!) Antonopolous has been shouting through a megaphone about the revolutionary potential of Bitcoin since its early days. He even quit his job as a freelance consultant and started travelling around, speaking at conferences about Bitcoin, and that was back in 2012.
Some have called him the most trusted voice of Bitcoin, Antonopolous is a fantastic writer and proponent of the cryptocurrency movement.
Philip Nunn – The expert advisor?
British crypto-expert, speaker and ICO specialist Nunn has been working in the financial services industry for 15 years, and has a burgeoning reputation.
His own LinkedIn account states: ‘Phillip has become a well-known, online influencer in the blockchain and crypto space and has travelled the world evangelising and talking on these subjects. Phillip has sat on the advisory boards of many ICO’s over the past 12 months and has helped structure and fund some of the biggest companies of the future. Along with his business Wealth Chain, Phillip will be launching his own crypto fund that looks to invest in ICO’s along with existing blockchain technology companies.
Catch him speaking at some of this year’s biggest Blockchain expos, like this one.
Marc Andreessen – The early pioneer?
If you working in the computer business, we’re pretty sure you already know of Andreessen, the inventor of Mosaic (the first widely-used computer browser) and Netscape. He sits on the board of directors of Facebook, eBay, and Hewlett Packard, and he sits on the world wide web hall of fame. He’s hot property.
But what about his crypto adventures? Well, his firm, Andreessen Horowitz, has invested hundreds of millions of dollars into various cryptocurrencies, mainly Bitcoin, and boasts more than 500% returns! His personal wealth is estimated to be around £900m, with a percentage accreditable to his wise crypto-strategies.
Is Andreessen a hodler? Reports from his firm suggest they expect big wins in around 10 years. That’s long-term thinking!
John Matonis – The wordsmith?
Economist, Founding Director of the Bitcoin Foundation, CEO of Hushmail and Chief Currency Dealer at VISA – his resume is just the start. Matonis claims to have met Satoshi Nakamoto, the mysterious alias behind Bitcoin’s true creator, who he claims is Craig Steven Wright. Wright even claims that he is Satoshi Nakamoto, and actually has pretty good evidence – the bizarre thing being that few actually believe him.
Matonis is a key figure in the written crypto-sphere, contributing to CoinDesk as a writer, as well as having a popular Medium blog.
Roger Ver – Polarising pumper or divisive dumper?
Love him or hate him, you can’t deny that he has a massive influence on the cryptosphere. His Wikipedia page reads like the life story of some kind of wacky freedom fighter; he’s been imprisoned for selling explosives on eBay, he tried to enter politics with the Libertarian Party, he self-taught Japanese whilst in prison, he renounced his US citizenship and became a citizen of St Kitts and Nevis, even though he lives in Japan and was born in California, and, he put over $1m into bitcoin-related startups in 2011, leading him to have the early moniker ‘Bitcoin Jesus’.
He’s a divisive figure, on one hand, he has donated large amounts of bitcoin to causes like the Foundation for Economic Education, and helped to launch both Ripple and Blockchain.info, and on the other hand, he supports insider trading and wants the bitcoin blocksize limit increased, which is something that most believe would do more harm than good.
Brian Armstrong – The banker?
Co-founder and CEO of Coinbase, it’s hard to compile a list of who is most influential in the cryptosphere without mentioning the guy who runs the most common market entry point. So, Coinbase might not be popular in everyone’s books, but we appreciate that they make entering the crypto trading game pretty easy, meaning that the industry can grow, more investment can come in, and people who want to trade but aren’t so technical can start moving their chess pieces.
Before Coinbase, Armstrong was a software engineer at Airbnb, another platform that revolutionised a major industry – does he have some kind of secret recipe for success?
Coinbase and Armstrong are in the process of launching ‘Coinbase Index Fund’, with a lot of PR and marketing work to get adoption. This means that digital assets will be able to be invested in on Coinbase.
Sunny Lu – The wildcard?
So, Sunny Lu is probably the one name on this list that almost nobody will have heard of, but if you have – kudos! In the Chinese blockchain world, Sunny is very important, and more frequently now, his articles, research, and talks are getting translated into foreign languages for a western audience.
He’s the CEO of VeChain, which has some of the best technology China has produced behind it. It can do amazing things, and will potentially facilitate IoT integration, something that IOTA has claimed but not yet proven.
Sunny’s approach to the blockchain is quite different – he suggests a system in which we build useful tools, wait to see how they are applied by users, then use the application scenarios to support the development of the technology used to build the system in the first place. That may sound confusing, but it actually makes perfect sense, and in a way, it’s how Amazon has managed to scale and improve constantly – they have programming teams who use the common solutions that customers require to influence how they redesign their system.
We could only put 10 people on this list, but there are so many influencers in this industry. We’d love to hear from you about your favorite cryptocurrency figures, so email us at firstname.lastname@example.org