There are many talks about the future of cryptocurrencies and the blockchain. Some believe in the recovery of the crypto-assets and the broader usage of blockchain technology; others are more skeptical. However, we barely talk about people who create the crypto world. They determine the development of the industry and predict the crypto future. Let’s take a closer look at the most influential people in crypto.
1. Changpeng Zhao, CEO and founder of Binance
Follow Twitter: @cz_binance
Changpeng Zhao, goes by CZ, started his career working service jobs, including McDonald’s and a gas station. Later, he managed to get a job at the Tokyo Stock Exchange, where he developed software for matching trade orders. After, he worked at Bloomberg Tradebook developing futures trading software. In 2005, Changpeng established Fusion Systems, a provider of IT solutions and business consultancy.
The career in the crypto industry started in 2013. Since that time, he served for different cryptocurrency projects, including Blockchain.info and OKCoin. However, the career peak occurred in 2017 when he founded Binance, the largest crypto exchange with a 25% market share. Since then, it is the primary vector of Mr. Zhao.
One of the priority lines of Binance’s operation is the support of governments with crypto adoption. Moreover, the cryptocurrency exchange follows the law, works with every government, law enforcement agency, and regulatory body. In the case of a criminal case against an exchange user, Binance will give out the client’s information. Such a policy allows the company to grow fast and be one of the leading developers of the crypto industry.
- The father of Mr. Zhao, who was a professor in China, was labeled “pro-bourgeois intellect” and expelled from the country.
- At the beginning of the Binance’s path, there was no proper working space. Most of the employees had their desks right next to the toilet.
- Binance became the largest in the world in just under 180 days.
- Binance can easily process 1.4 million transactions per second.
2. Jihan Wu, co-founder of Bitmain Technologies Ltd and founder of Matrixport
Follow Twitter: @jihanwu
The Bitcoin path of Jihan Wu began early. In 2011, he and Chang Jia already created first China’s Bitcoin community site. The first attempt to work in Bitcoin mining was made in 2012 when Jihan invested in a Bitcoin mining hardware startup Kaomao. The company met financial difficulties and was closed. The next investment attempt was unsuccessful as well. Finally, in 2013, he succeeded, Jihan Wu and Micree Zhan founded Bitmain.
The company experienced ups and downs. In 2014, it suffered due to the fraud at the Japanese Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox. Nevertheless, in 2015, Bitcoin prices recovered, and the company invented the best-selling mining equipment. Currently, Bitmain is considered as the world’s dominant producer of cryptocurrency mining chips. Jihan Wu is no longer Bitmain’s official legal representative. However, he is still one of the most influential people in the crypto world.
In 2019, Mr. Wu resigned as co-CEO of Bitmain and founded Matrixport. The company provides trading, digital asset custody, and cryptocurrency lending service.
- The career of Mr. Wu began with the position of a financial analyst at a private equity firm.
- Mr. Wu is the first person who translated the Satoshi Nakamoto’s whitepaper into Mandarin Chinese.
- In May 2011, Jihan gathered 100,000 yuan from family and friends to buy 900 Bitcoins.
- Bitmain operates BTC.com and Antpool. Both are the largest mining pools for Bitcoin. In 2018, Antpool sent 12% of the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) they mined to irrecoverable addresses to destroy them and boost BCH prices.
3. Jack Dorsey, co-founder, and CEO of Twitter and Square
Follow Twitter: @jack
At first glance, Mr. Dorsey does not relate to the crypto industry. However, it’s not the truth. Jack Dorsey is one of the leading Bitcoin enthusiasts. He calls Bitcoin “the internet’s first native currency.”
His payment system Square is highly involved in the development of the crypto industry. At the end of 2017, Cash App – a mobile payment service of Square – started supporting bitcoin trading. In 2019, Dorsey created a branch of Square – Square Crypto. Mr. Dorsey invested significant sums to different Bitcoin startups. In 2018, Dorsey was one of the first investors in Lightning Labs – a startup working on the layered scaling solutions for Bitcoin. In 2019, Square Crypto donated $100,000 to BTCPay, a payment processing project that is used to help merchants launch their own Bitcoin full node. Jack had been buying $10,000 worth of Bitcoin weekly and investing in a cryptocurrency hardware wallet to store his Bitcoin holdings.
The current idea of Mr. Dorsey is to expand Bitcoin in Africa. Dorsey wrote in his tweet: “Africa will define the future (especially the bitcoin one!)”.
- As many millionaires and talented people, Jack does not have a university education. He had two attempts – the University of Missouri-Rolla and New York University – but he dropped off both.
- Mr. Dorsey is not only an outstanding programmer and entrepreneur but a certified masseur and fashion designer.
- Being CEO and founder of Square, he doesn’t even have a desk.
- He works once per week on Tuesday from his kitchen.
- In 2006, Mr. Dorsey passed 1/3 of his Twitter shares to employees.
4. David Marcus, Head of the Facebook Calibra team
Follow Twitter: @davidmarcus
David Marcus is a former PayPal Vice President and General Manager. His career in the crypto industry started in 2017 with the cryptocurrency exchange CoinBase, where he served in the Board of Directors. Later he stepped down the position to head the Facebook Calibra team working on the Facebook cryptocurrency Libra.
Mr. Marcus deserves to be called one of the first top executives of Silicon Valley who adopted and supported Bitcoin.
The success of the Facebook cryptocurrency Libra highly depends on him. At the moment, the project survives hard times with a lack of trust in Facebook due to several scandals. Facebook created the Libra Association with such giants as Uber, Paypal, and Mastercard. However, it hasn’t helped much. The launch of Libra will be crucial for the crypto world due to the size and volume of Facebook.
- Mr. Marcus has been coding since he was eight years old.
- He is another crypto influencer who didn’t graduate from the university.
- Before moving to Silicon Valley in 2008, he launched three highly successful startups. The first startup was founded when he was 23 years old. The third one – a mobile payments provider called Zong – was acquired by eBay for $240 million.
5. Brian Armstrong, co-founder, and CEO of Coinbase and GiveCrypto
Follow Twitter: @brian_armstrong
There is no need to write much about Coinbase. Almost everyone knows it’s the largest cryptocurrency exchange.
There is not a lot of information about Mr. Armstrong. All we know, unlike his predecessor, he has three degrees: Bachelor of Computer Science, Bachelor of Economics, and a Master of Computer Science. Before co-founding the crypto exchange in 2012, he was a software engineer at Airbnb, developer at IBM and consultant at Deloitte.
- Brian Armstrong is a co-founder of GiveCrypto. And this company is impressive. GiveCrypto is “a nonprofit that distributes cryptocurrency to people living in poverty.” Its mission is to “financially empower people by distributing cryptocurrency globally.” The company allows you to donate crypto. After it distributes it to those, who need it. In the end, people in poverty can use funds in their local economies.
- Mr. Armstrong made an interesting prediction for the 2020s. He believes a “privacy coin” or blockchain with built-in privacy features get mainstream adoption… more than half the world’s billionaires will be from cryptocurrency.”
6. Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum
Follow Twitter: @VitalikButerin
We may say that the crypto career of Mr. Buterin started in 2011 when he was invited to be a co-founder of Bitcoin Magazine, where he also was a leading writer. The magazine could be called the first serious source about cryptocurrencies. He was also an editor at Ledger, the first academic journal related to cryptocurrency and blockchain research.
In 2013, he wrote a white paper, where he described Ethereum. “Ethereum is a global, open-source platform for decentralized applications. On Ethereum, you can write code that controls digital value, runs exactly as programmed, and is accessible anywhere in the world”. Ethereum became the world’s second-most valued and recognized cryptocurrency platform after Bitcoin.
Besides Ethereum, Vitalik assisted as a developer in such software projects as DarkWallet, Bitcoin Python, and Egora.
- Dad of Vitalik was the first person who told his son about Bitcoin. At that time, Vitalik was 17 years old.
- Mr. Buterin came up with an idea of Ethereum after he didn’t find an agreement about the development of Bitcoin. He was just 19 years old.
- Buterin started with writing articles for a Bitcoin blog. He earned 5 Bitcoins (around $4) per article until the blog was closed.
- At school, he was placed in a class for gifted children. He could add up three-digit numbers in his head twice as fast as his classmates. However, he dropped out of university.
- In June 2017, news sources reported the death of Mr. Buterin in the car accident. Rumors caused a plunge in the value of the Ethereum market cap to about 4 billion dollars.
7. Brad Garlinghouse, CEO and Chairman of Ripple
Follow Twitter: @bgarlinghouse
Brad Garlinghouse has two degrees: a BA in economics from the University of Kansas and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Before Ripple, he served at different executive positions at Yahoo. After that, he held the position of President of consumer applications at AOL. Later he was a head of Hightail – the file-sharing site Hightail. Currently, he holds a board position at OutMatch. Earlier, he served on the Board of Directors at Ancestry.com and Tonic Health.
As for Ripple, it is among the top crypto companies nowadays. Ripple is the third most popular cryptocurrency after Bitcoin and Ethereum. It has excellent development prospects. The company increases the network of partners all around the world. One of the main achievements is the close cooperation with banks. In 2019, Ripple surpassed 115 bank partners. After the launch of On-Demand Liquidity (ODL) used for cross-border payments, the company cooperated with more than 20 companies such as Moneygram, Western Union, and American Express. An expanding of Ripple is one of the keys to the development of blockchain technology.
- Mr. Garlinghouse is an active angel investor* in over 40 companies.
*An angel investor is an individual who provides capital for a business startup.
8. Charlie Lee, creator of Litecoin and Managing Director of the Litecoin Foundation
Follow Twitter: @SatoshiLite
Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, and finally, Litecoin. “Litecoin is an open-source, global payment network that is fully decentralized without any central authorities.”
The career of Mr. Lee started in the 2000s when he worked for several top tech companies such as Google and Guidewire Software. There are talks that he came up with the idea of Litecoin when working as a software engineer at Google. Charlie started as a miner. However, a meeting with Mike Hearn, a developer of the core blockchain client software for bitcoin, was a turning point in his life. He released Litecoin in 2011. Simultaneously, he worked at the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase. In 2017, he left Coinbase and went deep into work on Litecoin.
Charlie Lee is one of the most authoritative crypto forecasters and analysts. Investors and traders widely use his comments and predictions.
- In 2011, Charlie invented his first cryptocurrency Fairbix. It was based both on Bitcoin and Tenebrix. The first attempt failed. However, it was useful for the work on Litecoin.
- In 2017, he sold all his Litecoins because of the conflict of interests.
- In 2018, Lee declared his leave from his own cryptocurrency as his involvement interferes with the full decentralization. Currently, he works as a managing director at Litecoin Foundation on the Litecoin adoption.
9. Kelly Loeffler, US Senator from Georgia
Follow Twitter: @kloeffler
Now you may be surprised why we moved from cryptocurrency inventors to politicians. Let us explain.
Mrs. Loeffler worked for more than ten years at the position of a senior executive at Intercontinental Exchange Inc., or ICE. The Intercontinental Exchange is the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange and other market platforms. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in marketing from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign’s Gies College of Business and a Master of Business Administration in international finance and marketing from DePaul University’s Kellstadt Graduate School of Business. In 2018, she became CEO of Bakkt.
Bakkt is a cryptocurrency and infrastructure company that was established in 2018 as a subsidiary of Intercontinental Exchange. And here, she played one of the main roles. The company launched Bitcoin futures contracts settled in Bitcoin. It was a step that let institutional investors take positions on cryptocurrency in a federally regulated way. Many analysts consider Bakkt as one of the most important projects in the crypto industry in 2019.
American cryptocurrency legislation is tight regarding the crypto industry. Although the power of Mrs. Loeffer may be limited, she will definitely be the one who will support crypto and blockchain development in the government.
- Kelly Loeffler doesn’t have a tech degree but could play an essential role in the crypto industry.
- Loeffler is the first female senator from Georgia in 97 years.
10. Roger Ver, the earliest investor in Bitcoin and Bitcoin startups
Follow Twitter: @rogerkver
Roger was the CEO of MemoryDealers.com from 1999. It is worth saying he was 19 years old at that time. In 2011, he heard about Bitcoin for the first time. He was so convinced in the success of the cryptocurrency and blockchain, so he started investing in Bitcoin and startups. In 2011, MemoryDealers was the first company that introduced Bitcoin as a means of payment that allowed customers to pay in cryptocurrency. In 2012, he stepped down to work more with Bitcoin. That year, he founded Bitcoinstore.com, the company selling different items and allowing payments in Bitcoin. Also, in 2012, he became CEO and investor of Blockchain.com. Ver invested in such blockchain projects as Ripple, Bitpay, and Kraken. Roger contributed to the Bitcoin fork and Bitcoin Cash. Since 2014, Roger Ver is an Executive Chairman at Bitcoin.com, the company that works on the full acceptance of Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin Core.
- Being one of the earliest and most active promoters of Bitcoin and investing an enormous amount of money in Bitcoin projects, he got the nickname of “Bitcoin Jesus.”
- Mr. Ver spent ten months in jail for selling explosives via eBay.
- In 2013, he invested over $1 million worth of Bitcoin to the Foundation for Economic Education.
- Being a US citizen from birth, he renounced his citizenship. Currently, he has a citizenship of St. Kitts and Nevis. After that, he had several failed attempts to get the US visa.
To conclude, what have we learned? These the most influential people differ with nationality, background, education, and projects. However, they believe in the bright future of the crypto world. A significant number of projects they work on allow hoping for a soon more comprehensive implementation of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. The crypto industry is supposed to develop fast and significantly while we have such crypto enthusiasts. Nevertheless, it’s not the full list of outstanding people who are changing the crypto world. Let’s continue.