Back in February 2018, Forbes Magazine identified 19 of the “Richest in Crypto” based on who had about $1 billion worth in crypto. Galaxy Digital’s Mike Novogratz led the pack along with former child actor Brock Pierce and Coinbase’ then-35 year old CEO Brian Armstrong. But of those 19, only Armstrong appears on Forbes’ much anticipated list of billionaires in 2019.
The crypto lesson is clear: When there’s a gold rush happening, you want to be the one selling shovels, not the one buying gold. Hence, Brian Armstrong—with his high-fee and highly respected Coinbase—made it out alive and gained wealth.
Not everyone lost it all when the market crashed. One of the previously identified crypto billionaires may have taken himself off the list by spending part of his fortune. Brock Pierce had previous told Forbes in 2018 that he would give away his billion dollar crypto fortune. He did not appear on the list in either 2018 or 2019.
The only one who managed to raise their stature this year is Telegram’s Pavel Durov. He is known as “Russia’s Mark Zuckerberg” for selling his Russian social networking platform for $300 million. He then started the free messaging app and raised $1.7 billion during the ICO for its proposed TON blockchain protocol.
Forbes takes a lot into consideration and includes inherited wealth and the value of an individual’s personal brand. Of the eight billionaires under 30 on their list, all but three inherited the money. However, Forbes factors in funds raised from an ICO.
Telegram founder Durov, who did not make the 2018 crypto list, made the Forbes billionaire list in 2018, but as an app mogul, not for his yet-to-be launched ICO in mid-2018. This year he is estimated at $2.7 billion, which is up from $1.7 billion in 2018. “In mid-2018 Pavel, with his brother Nikolai Durov, raised $1.7 billion from investors to create TON, a blockchain system based on Telegram,” Forbes reported. If those numbers are correct, then he is getting credit for half. Forbes doesn’t release their complete data, but if his half is $850 million, then he still falls short of being a crypto billionaire.
In 2018, Forbes dubbed Ripple’s Chris Larsen as “The Richest Person in Crypto” with an estimated crypto net worth of $7-8 billion. Forbes estimated that Larsen owned 5.6 billion of Ripple’s XRP, which even at today’s prices leaves him with $1.6 billion. He does not appear on the 2019 list. Nor do Gemini’s Winkelvoss twins.
Binance’s Changpeng Zhao, banking-heir and crypto investor Matthew Mellon and Ethereum’s Anthony Di Iorio were all previously identified by Forbes as billionaires. They are further down the list now, but not out.
“Chris Larsen is on the list ranked at No. 1227. Changpeng Zhao is on the list at No. 1818,” Forbes’ corporate communications rep Christina Vega confirmed via email to Modern Consensus. “Matthew Mellon has passed away.” He died in 2018 and his heirs have not been able to find $500 million worth of Ripple’s XRP token.
Some of the other so-called crypto billionaires are also absent. Forbes last year reported that Craig Wright was being sued for stealing $10 million in bitcoin. But he appears nowhere on this list this year. (Modern Consensus reached out to Craig about why crypto’s richest weren’t included this year and he responded, “Why is that weird? Forbes is paid shit clickbait media.” Man, we love this guy.)
Wright does have a point. Forbes is grabbing headlines and online disdain for crowning 21 year old Kylie Jenner as the youngest “self made” billionaire. It’s not clear why Forbes credits nearly $900 million in net sales at Jenner’s makeup company as making her personally owning $1 billion. But, like, cheers to the Forbes writer who got to refer to the social media star as “the first selfie-made billionaire.”
Because money and markets are what they are, the annual list doesn’t add or remove individuals as they fortunes change during the year. “The fortune of Tsuyoshi Matsushita of Japan ($1.3 billion on our list) fell by nearly $600 million by February 18, as shares of his fitness and beauty-products firm, MTG, tumbled.” Forbes wrote in their methodology report. “Just over a week later, Singapore’s Forrest Li jumped into the 10-figure club when the stock of his online gaming firm Sea increased 45% in days. “
So at least the billionaires on the list know what it’s like to lose a lot of money.