Who are the most influential people in crypto today? That’s the tough question posed—sometimes verbally, but mostly through actions—by entrepreneurs, developers, investors, enthusiasts, traders, and journalists. It’s one we often contemplate at Modern Consensus and, with the start of the year, we thought we’d try to answer it as best we can.
Digital currency is a relatively new technology and still a growing industry, despite one of the worst years cryptocurrencies have faced in their brief history. This lends itself to an incredible potential for upward mobility for someone with talent. A kid in high school when Bitcoin’s first block was created can, a decade later, become the most important man in blockchain technology. Billionaires don’t always have as much clout as coders with a sizable fan base.
We created this list after several weeks of research and debate. A team of Modern Consensus writers and contributors—Leo Jakobson, Martine Paris, Brendan Sullivan, and Michael Hillmeyer—worked day and night to compile an impeccable list of a couple hundred of the biggest names in the crypto. Many factors were considered, such as assets under management and portfolio; the importance of entrepreneurs’ projects; and the impact thought leaders have in shaping the future of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. A process was developed to rank the data we had and discussions—sometimes heated—ensued. Names were dropped while others were added.
To be sure, the resulting list is imperfect. However, it’s safe to say that someone in the Top 10 has more power and influence than, say, folks in the 80s or 90s. That’s how such a list works.
And, because of the fluid nature of this business, someone who makes the crypto world shake in its boots now may not do so next year, while a relatively unknown person can revolutionize the technology in just a few months.
Before continuing, we feel we must point out a somber fact: Despite all the promise of the democratization of technology that is being promised, there remains a woeful lack of diversity among its leaders. For example, there are a few, very powerful women on this list but nowhere near as many as there should be. For there to be a revolutionary change in technology and finance, there will have to be a revolutionary change in who’s making the key decisions.
We now bring you the first annual Modern Consensus 100 Most Influential People in Crypto.
Turning just 25 at the end of January, Valerik Buterin is firmly ensconced as the voice of Ethereum, the blockchain design he proposed as a robust platform for decentralized smart contracts rather than just a cryptocurrency. And that may be a problem. In a Nov. 1 article in MIT Technology Review, Buterin was quoted as saying that for Ethereum to succeed, he needed to step back from leading its development, but almost immediately had to walk that comment back for a nervous community, saying that he was staying involved but merely encouraging others to become more involved. This is after a hoax report of his death in 2017 knocked $4 billion off the third-largest cryptocurrency’s value.
The Ethereum Enterprise Alliance, founded in 2017 to support its use as an enterprise blockchain platform, includes 358 members, mostly blockchain companies but with quite a few major firms like Deloitte, Microsoft, BP, and J.P.Morgan as well.
Buterin, who was awarded an honorary doctorate from Switzerland’s oldest university in November, is heavily involved in the scheduled Ethereum “hard fork” scheduled for January that will shift Ethereum mining from a proof-of-work model like Bitcoin to a proof-of-stake model, in which “miners” stake a greater number of coins rather than solving a mathematical puzzle to create the next block. Buterin says this will help blockchain transactions become “thousands of times more efficient” as well as much more environmentally friendly.
2. Jihan Wu
When there’s a gold rush on you want to be the guy out there selling pickaxes. Jihan Wu’s Bitmain is a $12 billion company that has kept the crypto world in mining equipment. And that’s not including his stake in the $3 billion crypto startup Circle.
3. Jay Clayton
Securities and Exchange Commission
Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Jay Clayton is certainly crypto’s biggest roadblock at the regulatory body. Despite a partnership with Nasdaq for use of its manipulation surveillance tools, the SEC, spearheaded by Clayton, in July turned down a proposed exchange traded fund (ETF) tracking the value of Bitcoin by the Winklevoss twins’ BATS BZX Exchange. It was the most recent in a series of such rejections, and Clayton recently suggested it won’t be the last.
Speaking at the Consensus Invest Conference in Manhattan in November, Clayton said, “What investors expect is that trading in the commodity that underlies that ETF makes sense and is free from the risk of manipulation. It’s an issue that needs to be addressed before I would be comfortable,” approving a cryptocurrency ETF. A leader of the white shoe legal firm Sullivan & Cromwell before his appointment by President Donald Trump, Clayton has reportedly disappointed Republicans who expected a more aggressively pro-business approach on issues ranging from enforcement to cryptocurrency regulation.
4. Naval Ravikant
Founder & Chair
Naval Ravikant is one of the most beloved investors in the crypto space for having founded AngelList, one of the first platforms created for startups to raise capital from accredited investors. He was instrumental in getting the Jobs Act of 2012 passed which allows for regulatory compliant crowdfunding under Reg CF and Reg A. An early investor in Twitter, Uber, Postmates, Yammer, Foursquare, Gigster, 21, Plancast, Poshmark, and Product Hunt (which AngelList bought), his recent crypto investments include Coinlist, Chia, CryptoKitties, Bitwise Asset Management, Orchid Labs and Kraken. Of his 77 investments on AngelList, 69 have had exits. “Naval is The Matrix,” said serial entrepreneur and investor, Jared Kopf on Naval’s AngelList profile. He has nearly a half million Twitter followers; so popular was this cypherpunk tweet that he reposted it to kick off the year, “Bitcoin is a tool for freeing humanity from oligarchs and tyrants, dressed up as a get-rich-quick scheme.”
5. Joe Lubin
Ethereum co-founder and possible still-billionaire Joseph Lubin is best known as head of ConsenSys, a blockchain startup incubator and technology firm focused on building companies around every aspect of the Ethereum blockchain system. An articulate evangelist for the technology and former Goldman Sachs banker, Lubin has spoken at events ranging from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to SXSW.
With the value of the Ethereum coins that make up his fortune dropping sharply over the Crypto Winter of 2018, his sprawling, Brooklyn-based firm is reportedly in the process of undergoing a sea-change that may see up to 60 percent of its around 1,200 employees laid off in a strategic refocusing of the company (ConsenSys 2.0, Lubin calls it) from a hybrid incubator model to a more traditional investor. Two days before announcing ConsenSys 2.0, Lubin called the move “a refocusing of priorities… On more rigor, more structure, more sustainability, more accountability.” That his empire grew in about a year from 200 to 1,200 and now appears to be shrinking just as quickly has given the entire industry a black eye, and one could make a fair argument that Lubin and ConsenSys are responsible for more market cap loss in ETH than anyone else 2018. The company helped create and expand the image of the space as an anarchist playground with no meaningful goals or metrics while also playing midwife for many ICOs that fueled the hype cycle. Ultimately, many of their science experiments now appear that they’d work better with traditional database technology, while the massive layoffs have created bad optics for the whole industry. The upshot is that ETH is down far more than BTC and XRP over the past six months, though a December rally pared some of the losses.
6. Mike Novogratz
Founder & CEO
A former Goldman Sachs banker and Fortress Investments Group hedge fund manager, Mike Novogratz was a fairly early investor in Bitcoin, personally buying $7 million worth at $100 in 2013. As founder and CEO of Galaxy Digital, he oversees a merchant bank dedicated to digital assets and blockchain technology with four main lines of business: OTC trading, asset management, advisory, and principal investing in VC and other business stages. In November, Galaxy Digital announced several top executive departures as Novogratz refocused on institutional clients rather than small ICO and blockchain consulting.
In 2017, after leaving Fortress after several big losses, Novogratz started Galaxy Digital, whose Galaxy Digital Capital Management subsidiary had $422 million under management as of Nov. 30. He is known for being bullish on cryptocurrencies despite calling Bitcoin a bubble in 2017, telling Bloomberg in Dec. 2018, “Most manias are built on something that’s real. The Internet bubble felt like a mania, and whoa did the Internet change our world… Two years from now people are going to look back and see this as a huge buying opportunity in the crypto space.”
7. Brian Armstrong
Co-founder & CEO
In 2018 there were more active Coinbase accounts than Charles Schwab accounts thanks largely to CEO and Chief Legal Officer Brian Armstrong. The co-founder recently penned a New York Times op-ed in support of the U.S. creating its own world reserve crypto currency and he wants Coinbase to be the “Google of Crytpo.”
8, 9, 10. Brad Garlinghouse, Cory Johnson, David Schwartz
Co-founder & CEO, Chief Market Strategist, CTO
Ripple’s goal of taking on SWIFT and disrupting global banking hinges on its leadership team’s ability to execute. So far, they’re making progress. They have 120 banks as partners in their xCurrent product and have done tests with central banks like those of England and Saudi Arabia. And now that the xRapid product has launched with several real-world financial service companies using it, critics who have wondered whether Ripple’s technology would ever incorporate XRP tokens have been quieted. As CEO, Brad Garlinghouse has been the public face of Ripple, regularly appearing on TV and doing the conference circuit, including the company’s own yearly event SWELL, presumably so named to bust SWIFT’s chops. He recently brought in Bloomberg TV host Cory Johnson as Ripple’s chief markets strategist, essentially serving as Garlinghouse’s surrogate as demand for the CEO’s time grows.
One of the original developers of the Ripple consensus network, Schwartz helped create the second most valuable cryptocurrency by market cap, XRP, which knocked Ethereum down to No. 3 this year. Designed specifically as a “frictionless” means of transferring money globally at very low cost, Ripple’s technology claims several benefits over rivals Bitcoin and Ethereum, notably the speed at which transactions can be settled. That’s important, considering that the company’s RippleNet software aims to take over the old-fashioned business of interbank money transfers by knocking the traditionally days-long process down to a few seconds (compared to hours for Bitcoin and minutes for Ethereum).
A developer of cloud storage and messaging systems for the likes of CNN and the U.S. National Security Agency, Schwartz is currently focused on two goals: working with financial institutions like American Express and Santander that are experimenting with its products, and explaining to the crypto community that Ripple does not have central control of XRP despite holding vast amounts of the 100 billion XRP its founders created.
11. Wences Casares
Founder & CEO
Known as the “patient zero” of Bitcoin among Silicon Valley VC firms, Wences Cesares is a serial entrepreneur and board member of both PayPal and the crypto research and advocacy non-profit Coin Center. His current project is Xapo, which says it combines the convenience of a cryptocurrency wallet with the security of cold storage, and has heavyweight advisors including a former Secretary of the Treasury and chairman and CEO of Citibank.
A strong believer that a single blockchain cryptocurrency—most likely Bitcoin—will end up as the main store of value, Casares likens the crypto space to the early days of the Internet, when various protocols were battling to see which would become the main carrier of information. A native of Argentina, Wences’ past ventures include videogame maker Wanako Games, Brazil’s Banco Lemon, mobile payment firms Bling Nation and Lemon Wallet, and Latin American online brokerage Patagon, which Banco Santander bought for $750 million.
12. Elizabeth Stark
Harvard Law, teaching at Stanford and Yale on everything from peer-to-peer culture to memes. Stark remains focussed on the promise of blockchain and AI without getting distracted by the vagaries of market trends. Her Twitter feed would have you believe that she’s at least having a bit more fun than most blockchain CEOs. —
13. Chris Larsen
Called the richest man in cryptocurrency by Forbes, which placed him at No. 383 on the 2018 Forbes 400 list, Ripple co-founder and executive chairman Chris Larsen’s $2.1 billion fortune derives from his holding of more than 5 billion of the second-most-valuable cryptocurrency, XRP. He also has a large holding in the company itself, which is focused on speeding financial transactions and decreasing their cost. Larsen has a long history in finance, co-founding online mortgage lender e-Loan in 1997 and peer-to-peer lender Prosper in 2005.
The visionary behind Ripple, Larsen has kept it focused closely on one vital segment of the finance industry: building a better mousetrap for moving money from one place to another. Ripple, which is not technically a blockchain, has attracted more than 200 financial firms ranging from major banks to remittance facilitators around the world to the Ripple Network, which aims to replace the 1970s-era SWIFT interbank settlement system which can take days to confirm transfers with one that takes seconds, is cheaper, and offers the security of a distributed consensus network.
Last year, Larsen led a new industry lobbying group to meet with congress. The Securing America’s Internet of Value Coalition seeks to encourage and influence government regulation of the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry.
14. Changpeng Zhao
Founder & CEO
Changpeng Zhao—also known as CZ—created the world’s largest and fastest cryptocurrency exchange. His is a rags-to-riches story, as he was exiled from China as a child and has gone on to amass astounding wealth. In just eight months following the launch of Binance, CZ has become one of the richest people in crypto with an estimated net worth of $1.4 billion, according to Forbes.
15. Marc Andreessen
Co-Founder & General Partner
Marc Andreessen was a major player in the Silicon Valley VC market long before embracing Bitcoin and blockchain in 2013. A billionaire who made his first fortune during the 1990’s Internet bubble, in the mid-90s he switched to venture capital, eventually co-founding Andreessen Horowitz, which invested in Facebook and Twitter among other highly successful start-ups. In June, the firm announced a new, $300 million fund focused solely on the blockchain and cryptocurrency space, a16z crypto. It’s led by Katie Haun, who earned her crypto stripes as a prosecutor on the Silk Road case and now serves on the board of Coinbase.
Comparing the field to PCs, the Internet, and smartphones, the firm said a16z plans to invest consistently over time, regardless of market conditions. “If there is another “crypto winter,” we’ll keep investing aggressively,” it added.
16. Fred Wilson
Union Square Ventures
Fred Wilson is a pundit in the crypto investing space with a long running blog at avc.com and over half a million Twitter followers. He can be a loudmouth at times—his Bitcoin maximalism has proven short-sighted as well as off-putting. His Union Square Ventures portfolio includes Coinbase, Blockstack and Polychain.
17, 18. Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss
Rowing Olympians—and Mark Zuckerberg’s erstwhile foes—Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss have been working for more than five year on providing legitimacy and regulatory acceptance of the cryptocurrency market. Through their firm Winklevoss Capital Management and its New York State Department of Financial Services-regulated digital asset exchange Gemini, the Winklevoss twins have provided FDIC insurance of dollar deposits and launched the Gemini dollar stablecoin this past September. They have also been pushing the Virtual Commodity Association, a well-received idea for a cryptocurrency self-regulatory organization (SRO), which they proposed back in March. Yet their biggest project over the past five years, the so-far unsuccessful crusade to win approval of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for a cryptocurrency exchange-traded fund (ETF), eludes them. While the proposal has been rejected twice due to the SEC’s concerns about the potential for fraud and price manipulation in the broader cryptocurrency market, their latest proposal won the support of only one of the five SEC commissioners, Trump-appointee Hester Pierce, in the summer of 2018.
19. Balaji Srinivasan
CTO (and Co-founder of Counsyl, Earn, Teleport, Coin Center)
After his Earn.com was acquired by Coinbase, Srinivasan leveled up as Coinbase CTO on a mission to evangelize crypto and make sure that all the best people end up working there for him. He is practically the Anna Wintour of crypto as everything he chooses to list on Coinbase heats up in the market right away.
20, 21. Alexis Ohanian & Garry Tan
Alexis Ohanian and Garry Tan have wide reaching influence in Silicon Valley’s venture community with their close relationship with Y Combinator. Their portfolio companies have generated more than $20 billion in market value and they just closed their fourth fund of $225 million. With Reddit founder Ohanian returning full time from paternity leave with his wife, tennis legend Serena Williams, expect to see more investment in building the blockchain coming from the dynamic duo. Their portfolio includes Coinbase, Polychain, Horizon Blockchain Games, Coinbundle and Cointracker.
22. Peter Thiel
Peter Thiel is Silicon Valley’s most legendary digital money merchant prince. Alongside Elon Musk, Max Levchin, Reid Hoffman, Ken Howrey and others in the PayPal Mafia, he birthed the era of fast, secure ecommerce. Founder of Palantir and early investor in Facebook, LinkedIn, Yelp and other Silicon Valley unicorns, he was a billionaire many times over before investing in Bitcoin. His co-founders at Founders Fund includes Sean Parker and has billions under management with a portfolio that include SpaceX and Airbnb. There are countless stories from Silicon Valley CEOs of how Peter Thiel changed their lives. Thiel Fellows include the co-creator of Ethereum, Vitalik Buterin. Not without controversy, the man also singlehandedly shutdown Gawker and has close ties to the Trump administration which runs counter to tech politics in the West. He is also a New York Times best selling author.
23. Jed McCaleb
You may know Jed McCaleb’s name better than you do Stellar, the open-source blockchain he co-founded that, despite having the sixth-largest cryptocurrency (Lumens, or XLM), has “done a pretty poor job of marketing” itself and what it does, he admits. A co-founder of Stellar-competitor Ripple, McCaleb also created Mt. Gox, the once-dominant bitcoin exchange that—long after he left—collapsed following the theft of what was then more than $450 million in Bitcoin. More recently, he picked a fight with Tron CEO Justin Sun, calling that coin “just garbage” in an interview that declared “90% of crypto projects B.S.” Sun fired back by pointing out Stellar’s “extremely low transaction volume, centralized & non-democratic system” and also attacked another failed McCaleb project, eDonkey.
Lightyear, McCaleb’s for-profit Stellar Development Foundation spinoff, in September purchased Chain, a business-to-business payment firm used by companies like Visa and Citigroup, and created Interstellar, an enterprise blockchain developer focused on the global financial services sector. IBM has also built its IBM Blockchain World Wire cross-border payment settlement product on Stellar.
24. Tim Draper
DFJ, Draper University
Tim Draper is a Silicon Valley superhero, an undeniable icon coming from a long line of venture capitalists. Robinhood, the $5 billion financial services company, would have never made it without Draper’s cash infusion when the founders were first applying for their broker dealer license. Through DFJ, he was also an early investor in Twitch, Coinbase, SpaceX, AngelList, Twitter, Yammer, Unity, Giphy, Meetup, Skype, Foursquare, Baidu, Box, and Tumblr. These days he’s best known as a Bitcoin Maximalist who has predicted that Bitcoin will be at $250,000 by 2022 because of the long term potential of the technology and is training the next generation of blockchain entrepreneurs at Draper University.
25. Stefan Thomas
As CTO of Ripple, Stefan Thomas became so excited about the possibilities of the currency-neutral, cross-blockchain, open-protocol payment system Interledger that it created that he decided to leave and build a new company to take advantage of it. Coil, the company he created, aims to resurrect the idea of Web micropayments for content through web monetization, which pays creators on a second-by-second basis as users browse their sites.
26. Arthur Hayes
As co-founder and CEO of Bitcoin Mercantile Exchange (BitMEX), Arthur Hayes is one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges by volume, former Deutsche Bank and Citigroup equities trader Arthur Hayes is a leader in the cryptocurrency peer-to-peer leveraged trading and derivatives market. Based in the regulation-free Seychelles and headquartered in Hong Kong, BitMEX has long banned American traders from its platform to avoid aggressive U.S. regulators.
Hayes recently expressed some skepticism about whether Bitcoin will prove to be a secure asset over the long term, saying it “is still an experiment.” And while he remains bearish—predicting the crypto market may not improve for another 12 to 18 months—Hayes also recently predicted that ICOs will be back by mid-2020 and that Ethereum will “rebound aggressively” when that happens.
27. Katie Haun
The tough prosecutor created the government’s first cryptocurrency task force and led investigations into the Mt. Gox hack and the corrupt agents on the Silk Road task force. Now the bike-to-work San Franciscan is a partner in the Silicon Valley venture capital firm with $300 million mandate to find the next big thing in cryptocurrencies.—all while keeping the company on the right side of the law.
28. Chris Dixon
Chris Dixon is one of the most well-respected venture capitalists in Silicon Valley and in the crypto space. He co-hosts the a16z podcast and has over a half million followers on Twitter. He is a general partner of Andreessen Horowitz whose blockchain portfolio includes Chia, Coinbase, CryptoKitties, Dfinity, Filecoin, Harbor, MakerDAO, Orchid, and Polychain.
29. Andreas Antonopoulos
Author & Bitcoin Evangelist
The author of “Mastering Bitcoin” and the bestselling “The Internet of Money, Vol. One and Two,” as well as the just-released “Mastering Ethereum,” Andreas Antonopoulos is hugely influential figure in the Bitcoin and cryptocurrency space. A widely-sought speaker, he is a passionate supporter of the original, decentralized ideals of Bitcoin and derides the growing idea that blockchain technology can be co-opted for centralized business purposes like real estate or medicine, calling it nothing more than a “very slow database.”
He is also an opponent of the exchange traded funds (ETFs) that he thinks are both inevitable and antithetical to the decentralized nature of cryptocurrencies as the financial instruments that are traded like stocks remain in the central control of a custodian rather than the traders.
To give an idea how much he’s loved in Crytpoland, in late 2017, Roger Ver chided him for not holding on to his bitcoins and thus missing out on huge gains. As Antonopoulos explained, he used Bitcoin as a medium of transaction—one of its intended uses—at a time when he desperately needed money. Fans rushed to his defense and in a matter of days, showed their gratitude by donating more than 94 BTC to his account—at the time, worth $1.6 million.
30. Roger Ver
The bitcoin evangelist (or, as some call him, “Bitcoin Jesus”) has the unique ability to be thoughtful in his movements. Where others might care only to acquire and expand, Ver brings a sense of contemplation to his moves such as earlier this year when he split from Craig Wright in the middle of the BCH fork.
31. Howard Marks
Co-founder & Chair
As the co-founder and chair of Activision and Acclaim (now part of Disney), Howard Marks was already one of the most influential people in gaming. With StartEngine, a compliant token sales platform and conference series, he’s become one of the most influential people in fintech.
32. Adam Draper
Co-founder & Managing Director
Adam Draper, like his dad, Tim Draper, is a superhero to so many aspiring blockchain entrepreneurs. A Bitcoin Maximalist, he has been unwavering in his support for BUIDLers, hosting dapp development nights at Boost VC and keeping the community focused on the long term potential of the technology. Along with Boost VC co-founder, Brayton Williams, spent 2018 fulfilling their funding pledge to back one hundred crypto startups. Their robust portfolio includes 0x, Bitcoin, Coinbase, Decentraland, Ethereum, Filecoin, Monero, Polychain, Tezos, The Block and Zcash.
33. Patrick Byrne
Founder & CEO
Byrne founded Overstock in 1999 and he is the the last of the OG dotcomers who are still bootstrapping some wild ideas. Overstock runs Medici Ventures with the hope of bringing blockchain global. To show just how. serious he is to crypto, Overstock will be paying its 2018 Ohio state taxes in Bitcoin.
34. Caitlin Long
Wyoming Blockchain Coalition
Caitlin Long is responsible for the recent groundbreaking crypto-friendly legislation in Wyoming. A Harvard law school graduate and 22 year Wall Street veteran, Long is often called upon as a fintech pundit to read the tea leaves of the SEC. She was named by Institutional Investor as one of the most influential people in pensions from 2013 to 2015.
35. Joseph Poon
Plasma, Lightning Network
Joseph Poon is a leading authority in the space of blockchain scalability. He is the co-founder of Ethereum’s Layer2 Plasma with Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin, and he is the co-author of the Lighting Network which is a second layer payment protocol that allows for lighting fast cross chain transactions. To date, several leading players including Lightning Labs, Blockstream, Stellar and Square CEO Jack Dorsey have adopted the Lightning Network.
36. Jeremy Allaire
Co-founder, Chairman & CEO
As head of one of the best-funded companies in the blockchain space, Jeremy Allaire presides over a company that is both a peer-to-peer global payments firm via its Circle Pay product and a cryptocurrency trading platform via its Circle Trade. In 2018, Goldman Sachs-backed Circle acquired cryptocurrency exchange Poloniex and retail investor-focused Circle Invest.
An outspoken supporter of coordinated, intergovernmental regulation of cryptocurrencies at the G20 level, Allaire told Reuters this should include initial coin offerings, market manipulation, and Know Your Customer (KYC) rules, not just anti-money laundering. At MoneyConf Dublin this summer, he predicted that the “tokenization of everything” from legal contracts to voting to physical property like houses and cars is coming.
37. Jesse Powell
Co-founder & CEO
Kraken left New York State over the “bitlicense” regulations in 2015. The outspoken CEO refused to respond when the New York Attorney General began an investigation into whether they might serve New Yorkers illegally. When the AG’s report came out, Powell responded, “Thanks to the NY taxpayer for funding this research—saved our Product team a lot of time, and we got some interesting non-public info on our competitors.”
38. Sam Lessin
Sam Lessin is a serial entrepreneur, investor, ex-Facebook, ex-Bain, Harvard grad, blogger, podcaster, co-founder of virtual assistant Fin, and crypto half of The Information power couple, which is edited by Jessica Lessin. He is as Silicon Valley as it gets—and when he joked onstage at SF Blockchain Week that these are the last days of privacy, well, he knows something. Both as an angel and partner at Slow Ventures, Lessin has his hands in some of the coolest tech startups, In addition to allbirds, Artsy, AngelList, Brandless, Birchbox, Blue Bottle Coffee, Casper, ClassPass, Common, Dropbox, Dwell, Eaze, eero, Giphy, Hipcamp, MakerBot, MasterClass, Nest, Nextdoor, PillPack, Pinterest, Postmates, Slack, TaskRabbit, Wag, he is also an avid investor in the future of money and has participated in rounds for Venmo, Ripple, Betable, Robinhood and others.
39. Olaf Carlson-Wee
Olaf Carlson-Wee, a 29-year-old Vassar College sociology major, parlayed his gig as Coinbase’s first employee into managing roughly $650 million in assets with his Polychain Capital. It’s an impressive number but last year, the fund was touted as the first crypto fund to hit $1 billion in assets under management. That’s because after a 2017 that saw 2,303 percent returns, he gave back a huge chunk of it as crypto prices crashed. Polychain Capital has taken in cash from Andreessen Horowitz, Union Square Ventures, Founders Fund, Sequoia, Bain, and Bessemer, among others. Relations haven’t been entirely smooth with his investors; Carlson-Wee’s relationship with Pantera Capital has been contentious. Investments include CoinList, MakerDAO, and Dfinity.
40. Pete Rizzo
Getting up to date coverage on an industry based on crooks doing long division isn’t always a blast but somehow Rizzo usually makes it informative and sometimes even fun. Some of his writers have fled CoinDesk with tales of Rizzo tyranny and many industry insiders complain that the site misunderstands not just their particular brilliance but important nuances of the industry – their own version of this same kind of power list was widely mocked for overvaluing style and marketing over innovation. But CoinDesk has built an expansive voice in this space in a short time, and that cannot be underestimated.
41. Gil Penchina
Gil Penchina is a super angel who has invested in over 200 startups including Ripple, Filecoin, Civic, EOS, Paypal, Angellist, Indiegogo, and other unicorns like LinkedIn, Cruise and Dollar Shave Club. As the former CEO of Wikia, co-founder of Fastly, and part of the pre-IPO team at eBay, he is a well-connected, well-respected industry veteran and pundit.
42. Bobby Cho
Global Head of Trading
The global head of trading at Cumberland, an over-the-counter (OTC) cryptocurrency trading firm specializing in institutional investors, Bobby Cho sees these hedge funds and other financial companies finally beginning to jump into cryptocurrency investing in a serious way. This “professionalization” marks the beginning of the end of “the Wild West days of crypto” he said recently.
Wholly owned by principal investment firm DRW Holdings, which is active in trading, technology and real estate investments, Cumberland is a major provider of liquidity in the cryptocurrency trading market.
43. Andy Bromberg
Co-founder & President
Andy Bromberg’s compliant token sales platform, Coinlist, was one of the hottest Silicon Valley startups in 2018 processing over $400 million in crypto investments in just the first few months of the year and closing a $9.2 million Series A round in April with several top investors vying for a piece of the action. A founding research scientist at the Stanford Bitcoin Group, Bromberg has far reach into the developer community and has the ability to draw the best and the brightest talent to his hackathons.
44. Valerie Sczcepanik
Securities and Exchange Commission
Associate Director of the Division of Corporation Finance and Senior Advisor for Digital Assets and Innovation
The Securities and Exchange Commission may not have approved any crypto ETFs in 2018, or provided much comfort to firms looking to launch initial coin offerings (ICOs) with its recent flurry of enforcement actions, but that agency did signal that it is serious about supporting the cryptocurrency industry in June when it appointed Valerie A. Szczepanik associate director of the division of corporation finance and senior advisor for digital assets and innovation for Division Director Bill Hinman. As the first “Crypto-Czar,” Szczepanik said her mission is “to facilitate capital formation, promote fair, orderly, and efficient markets, and protect investors, particularly Main Street investors,” in the announcement of her appointment.
One way to do that, she says, is to open a dialogue with entrepreneurs in the FinTech space, and the agency’s newly launched Strategic Hub for Innovation and Financial Technology (FinHub) is the way the agency is doing that. Among her suggestions is writing regulatory compliance into smart contracts built into the blockchain technology cryptocurrencies are based on. More recently, she suggested that the agency would be willing to offer what amounts to pre-approval to the minority of ICOs that are genuinely not securities.
45. Kathleen Breitman
Kathleen Breitman is the public half of the husband-and wife team that founded Tezos, a proof-of-stake-based blockchain designed as a smart contracts platform similar to Ethereum, but designed to resolve what its designers saw as several weaknesses in ETH’s governance and technology.
The outspoken Breitman was among those vilified after XTZ became one of the richest (at $232 million) and most controversial initial coin offering after a feud between the founders and Tezos Foundation chair led to a long standoff in which lawsuits were launched and the future of the of the blockchain project was in serious doubt. With development funded by the Breitmans during Tezos’ long standoff, its mainnet went live in June 2018 and the project appears to be on a sound footing.
46. John McAfee
Entrepreneur & Politician
Crypto attracts a lot of eccentric people but perhaps no one is as off-the-wall wacky as tech pioneer John McAfee. He seems to always have trouble staying out of trouble. There was that whole thing in Belize where a couple of his neighbors ended up dead and he faked a heart attack in Guatemala to avoid Belizean authorities, who called him a “person of interest” in one of those deaths (the story has a somewhat happy ending—McAfee married a prostitute he met after being deported back to the U.S. and they remain together to this day; she’s clearly a saint). Then there was that arrest for driving under the influence with a firearm in Tennessee in 2015 solely because John McAfee. There was that time when he enjoyed taking “bath salts,” that messed-up drug concoction that sometimes makes people eat their friends for supper. He has now recast himself as a crypto advocate, though he is accused of being more like a pump-and-dump scammer in the industry. At least he has another job to fall back on—McAfee plans to run again for President of the U.S. in 2020 on the Libertarian Party ticket. Bizarre rantings on Twitter are no longer a disqualification for the job and, should he win the nomination, he still wouldn’t be the nuttiest person on the ballot that November.
47. Charles Lee
An alumnus of both Google and Coinbase before founding Litecoin, Charlie Lee also famously got out and sold all of his LTC during the height of the market a year ago.
48. Justin Sun
In purchasing leading peer-to-peer filesharing platform BitTorrent last June, Tron CEO Justin Sun brought a platform with 100 million users to his blockchain platform, which aims to create a decentralized entertainment distribution system connecting producers of content such as videos and games directly to users. On Jan. 3, BitTorrent announced it will launch its own BitTorrent Token (BTT) running on the Tron protocol, which will be used to pay BitTorrent content uploaders for sharing files. Designed as a decentralized app platform with a focus on speed, Tron is currently the 10th most valuable cryptocurrency by market capitalization.
The former chief representative of Ripple in China, Sun himself is a somewhat controversial figure, drawing criticism for things such as overhyped Tweets. In early January, Stellar’s Jed McCaleb drew Sun’s fire after calling Tron “garbage,” which led Sun to point out via Twitter that McCaleb had started a failed P2P filesharing service of his own.
49. Nouriel Roubini
New York University
Professor of Economics
Crypto’s Dutch uncle has an Italian accent. Nouriel Roubini, the NYU economics professor and head of Roubini Macro Associates, made his name (and earned the moniker “Dr. Doom”) predicting the severity of the financial crisis before most people. He now has a new favorite target—cryptocurrencies. His public appearances and Twitter feed feature incessant attacks on industry. Naturally, this has made him a popular speaker at crypto-related events.
50. Jamie Dimon
Chairman & CEO
As chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, the largest and most profitable bank in the United States, Jamie Dimon’s opinions on anything financial carry a lot of weight. So the fact that he’s called Bitcoin a “terrible store of value,” a “fraud,” and predicted that it “would not survive” over the past five year was taken seriously by a lot of people. In fact, he never wanted to be the spokesman against Bitcoin, he said at an Axios conference in October. Not that he regrets it, mind you. It’s just that he doesn’t “really give a shit about Bitcoin,” he added. At the same time, he and the bank he runs are huge supporters of the blockchain technology that underlies cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. JPMorgan Chase’s Blockchain Center of Excellence considers itself a “thought leader in the blockchain space,” and as of September it had signed up 75 other banks to its Interbank Information Network, designed on its Ethereum-based Quorum platform, which is designed to speed payment processing. “Blockchain is real,” he said at the Axios conference. “It’s a technology. Bitcoin is not the same as a fiat currency.”
51. Erik Voorhees
The prominent Bitcoin evangelist and CEO of ShapeShift has taken on the SEC twice now and as of early 2019, he’s playing for keeps. When the Wall Street Journal found $9 million in money laundering on his platform, he replied that they should change the title of their article to “Less than two tenths of one percent of ShapeShift’s business might be illicit.”
52. Slava Rubin
Rubin’s goal was always to give people access to capital. After 10 years of helping entrepreneurs raise over $1.5 Billion for their own projects, Rubin set his sights on crypto with token brokerage firm MicroVentures to tokenize early round investing in everything from startups to brew pubs.
53. Nick Szabo
Nick Szabo is one of the most likely candidates to be Satoshi Nakamoto or perhaps part of the “Satoshi Collective,” if that’s how it went down. This is due to his creation of the concept of smart contracts in 1997 and his “Bit Gold” proposal, which appears to have been published in 2005 or 2008—and possibly designed as early as 1998. The Bit Gold proposal contained most, if not all, of the features that ultimately went into Bitcoin although the solution to the double spending problem ended up being different. Szabo hails from Washington state and is a computer scientist by training whose writings in recent years have focused on the evolution of collectibles which comprise non-fungible treasure and fungible money.
54. Jameson Lopp
A software engineer and cypherpunk, Jameson Lopp is a Bitcoin core developer, the creator of Statoshi.info which provides real-time Bitcoin node statistics, and founder of the Bitcoin SIG discussion group which appears to be available only to Mensa members. Lopp is currently CTO of Casa, a personal key system for the secure storage of users cryptocurrency assets. Lopp’s personal website contains an extensive, open source listing of Bitcoin and blockchain resources.
55. Tuur Demeester
Tuur Demeester is the founding partner of Adamant Captial, a cryptocurrency investment fund. Prior to this he was editor in chief of Adamant Research, which focused on Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Before starting firms named after an English New Wave singer, Demeester’s Macro Trends newsletter was among the first to add Bitcoin to its basket of recommended currencies in 2012. The native of the Netherlands has also translated Jesus Huerta de Soto’s “Money, Bank Credit, and Economic Cycles” into Dutch.
56. Anthony Pompliano
Morgan Creek Digital Assets
Founder & Partner
Anthony Pompliano also known as Pomp pulled off a major coup the first quarter of this year when, riding the security token wave, he sold his crypto venture firm, Full Tilt Capital, to Mark Yusko’s multi-billion dollar Wall Street hedge fund, Morgan Creek Capital. Then in August, Morgan Creek teamed up with Hunter Horsley’s Bitwise Asset Management to launch the $500 million Digital Asset Index Fund, which Pomp now heads up with his partner, Jason Williams. A popular blogger, Pomp is a social media influencer with nearly 180,000 Twitter followers.
57. Charlie Shrem
Chief Visionary Officer
We recently saw Charlie Shrem in a legal fight with Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss; the Gemini founders claim Shrem owed them 5,000 bitcoins he was supposed to have purchased for them. Shrem found himself on the wrong side of authorities before, when his BitInstant sold $1 million in bitcoins to Silk Road users. In the 2016 documentary “Banking on Bitcoin,” he stated that he’d be leaving New York after his release from prison. True to his word, the Midwood, Brooklyn, native and co-founder of the Bitcoin Foundation is now a Florida resident. Shrem recently started CryptoIQ, a membership-based cryptocurrency trading advisory and news site based in Sarasota.
58. Chris Burniske
Chris Burnishke is a partner and co-founder of Placeholder Management, a New York-based VC fund that invests in decentralized information networks, i.e., cryptocurrencies, blockchain technology and associated companies. Prior to Placeholder, Burnishke was an Internet analyst at ARK Investment Management covering big data, cloud computing, cybersecurity, and cryptocurrencies and eventually became the firm’s Blockchain Products lead. Burnishke also co-authored the 2017 book “Cryptoassets” with Jack Tater.
59. Laura Shin
Journalist & Podcast host
The “Unchained” podcast host and Forbes Magazine contributor is not only a prominent voice in crypto, but also a no-coiner. She covers the fascinating characters of the blockchain world the same way she would investigate government spending projects without being in the infrastructure business.
60. Alex Morcos
Chaincode, HRT, Coin Center
Alex Morcos is one of the leading contributors to Bitcoin core development and an authoritative voice on public policy issues concerning cryptocurrency and decentralized computing technologies.
61, 62. Dan Boneh & Benedikt Bunz
Applied Crypto Group
Dan Boneh is an award-winning cryptographer that oversees the Applied Crypto Group at Stanford University where his PhD student, Benedikt Bunz, co-authored the groundbreaking crypto privacy white paper, Bulletproofs, which has gotten the developer community very excited. The technology is designed to enable efficient confidential transactions in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies and is currently being adapted for Monero, and possibly soon Litecoin.
63. Yoshitaka Kitao
Back in 2015, the former Softbank CFO saw the savings all international banks could make by switching to crypto, specifically to Ripple. In 2018 as CEO of SBI Global, he has changed his focus on how crypto can make better provide unturndown-able solutions for business
64. Ryan Selkis
Founder & CEO
In the 18 months he was managing director of CoinDesk, Ryan Selkis increased revenues sevenfold and turned its annual Consensus shindig into the biggest event in crypto. With his latest venture, Messari, Selkis is trying to fill a gaping hole in the industry by offering much-needed unbiased data and research to the masses.
65. Mike Dudas
A veteran of Google and PayPal who later headed business development for Venmo, Mike Dudas has more than a passing interest in digital currency. He raised seven figures and put together a powerhouse team including Mark Rogowsky, Frank Chaparro, Jake McGraw, and Larry Cermak to form a new publication, The Block. It has quickly become required reading thanks to its knack for regularly breaking stories.
66. Craig Wright
Wright has long been rumored to be Satoshi Nakamoto, the author of the original Bitcoin white paper. Of course Craig was the one who started that rumor but, to his credit, he has always stuck to the “Satoshi Vision” since the original paper dropped. He sided with Bitcoin Cash in their split over BTC and went all-in on a public split from BCH to BCH-SV and survived both. Is he really Satoshi Nakamoto? We’ll honestly probably never know.
67, 68. Joey Krug & Jeremy Gardner
Crypto pioneers Joey Krug and Jeremy Gardner created a protocol for decentralizing prediction markets and launched the first ERC-20 token built on Ethereum. Their seminal work laid the groundwork for a generation of blockchain entrepreneurs to follow who would use their ICO model to fundraise. Their Crypto Castle accelerator would mark the days of decadence for the industry. These days Krug, a Thiel fellow and top ten Angellist syndicate, is co-CIO at Pantera Capital with investments in BitPesa, Brave, Chain, Circle, Civic, Harbor, Polychain, Ripple, Zcash, 0x, Filecoin, ICON, Pryze and WAX. Gardner is the co-founder of Ausum Ventures and impact fund dedicated to creating social change through the blockchain. Ausum’s portfolio includes Codex, Filecoin and Oasis Labs. Gardner has also launched a new Crypto Castle in Miami.
69, 70. Sam Cassatt & Amanda Gutterman
Chief Strategy Officer, Chief Marketing Officer
C-level executives don’t normally have to speak very loudly to be heard clearly, but as ConsenSys CSO Sam Cassatt and CMO Amanda Gutterman have been quick to point out, the largest pure Ethereum firm is not a normal company. Like blockchain itself, ConsenSys has been a distributed company, in which traditional hierarchies existed only minimally. Creating and selling Ethereum-based solutions in a company that both provides consulting services and acts as a startup incubator means the pair have had to spend a lot of time educating and building consensus as well as evangelizing — a difficult task in the “crypto winter”—and one that is changing as the company moves to become a little more hierarchical.
71. Jackson Palmer
Although Jackson Palmer is no longer involved in Dogecoin, the coin he launched as a joke and funded via a test ICO is still trading as one of the top cryptocurrencies in the world. Quite a testament to decentralization! Palmer is now a PM at Adobe, YouTuber, and Twitter personality.
The anonymous blogger has been attacking Bitfinex and its sister company, Tether, for a couple of years. What seemed at first like the rants of a disgruntled customer may have led to CFTC subpoenas, a few academic studies, and now an investigation by the Department of Justice of both Bitfinex and Tether into whether they were involved in manipulating the price of Bitcoin. Whether or not it will mean any finding of wrongdoing or prosecutions remains to be seen but it’s now the biggest cloud over the crypto markets and it’s in large part thanks to Bitfinex’ed.
73. Neha Narula
MIT Media Lab
Director of Digital Currency
Neha Narula in a well respected thought leader on the future of money and how digital currencies will transform our world. She is a TED speaker, ex-Google, ex-Digg.
74. Arianna Simpson
Founder & MD
Arianna Simpson is an early stage investor who has been backed by hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen of Cohen Private Ventures twice and other leader investors including Union Square Ventures in her latest fund, All eyes were on her in 2018 as she started to make investments for Autonomous Partners. She’s ex-Facebook, former BitGo PM, and a Y Combinator alum, who is frequently sought out as a pundit by the media to comment on the state of blockchain and cryptocurrency investments.
75. Nathaniel Popper
The New York Times
Nathaniel Popper is the author of the 2015 book “Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money” and a reporter for the New York Times since 2012 whose beat includes cryptocurrencies, blockchain, and financial technology. Popper has also written on noted Holocaust scholars Raul Hilberg (“The Destruction of the European Jews”) and Hannah Arendt (“The Origins of Totalitarianism”) for the New Yorker.
76. Brock Pierce
(Re)start, ONE, Blockchain Capital, EOS, DNA, Tether, Bitcoin Foundation, Mastercoin
The controversial former child star and ninth-wealthiest person in crypto was an early investor in Coinbase, Ethereum and Block.One’s EOS. He has committed to giving away nearly $1 billion dollars of his crypto wealth.
77, 78. Bram Cohen & Ryan Singer
Bram Cohen and Ryan Singer are building a more energy-efficient digital money that accomplishes a decentralized Nakamoto consensus using proof of space and time in place of the more wasteful proof of work used in Bitcoin. As evangelists for regulatory compliant fundraising, they secured over $3.4 million in venture funding from Naval Ravikant, Andreessen Horowitz, Greylock Partners and other top investors and are currently pursuing a Reg A IPO for Chia. Singer frequently speaks at conferences advising blockchain entrepreneurs to steer clear of ICOs in the U.S. because of the regulatory risk. Cohen, the legendary inventor of the peer to peer sharing BitTorrent protocol also became strategic advisor to Lightning Labs who are building software to enable faster and cheaper transactions on Bitcoin and compatible blockchain networks.
79. Michael Terpin
Michael Terpin is the producer of the longest running crypto conference, CoinAgenda, which consistently draws the most impressive roster of speakers. At the last show, Perry Farrell, lead singer of Jane’s Addiction and producer of Lollapalooza, dropped in to talk about his new perpetual festival metaverse, Kind Heaven, which will debut at Caesars Palace Las Vegas in 2019 and feature token rewards. Terpin, the founder of Marketwire, is a renowned publicist. He is also a prolific crypto investor and has been instrumental in attracting innovation and funding to rebuild Puerto Rico. Such a visionary, he was the first blockchain entrepreneur to be granted Act 22 status by the Puerto Rican government and owns the domain blockchainisland.com, having beaten Malta to it.
80. Adam Ludwin
Co-founder & CEO
Adam Ludwin spent 2018 transforming Chain into a compelling solution for “enterprise to BUIDL” financial products on the blockchain. He impressively won over support from the biggest players in the space including American Express, Paypal, Visa, Capital One, Citigroup, NASDAQ and Orange, and then orchestrated the sale of Chain to Stellar subsidiary Lightyear.io where he has stayed on as CEO with Stellar co-founder Jed McCaleb as CTO.
81. Hester Pierce
Securities and Exchange Commission
In publicly dissenting from the SEC’s refusal to overrule its staff and approve a proposal by Gemini-founders Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss for a Bitcoin-tracking exchange traded fund (ETF), SEC Commissioner Hester Pierce suddenly found herself the darling of the cryptocurrency community this summer. Dubbed “CryptoMom” as a result, Pierce in her dissent wrote, “the Commission’s interpretation and application of the statutory standard sends a strong signal that innovation is unwelcome in our markets, a signal that may have effects far beyond the fate of bitcoin ETPs.” [ETF’s are a type of exchange traded product, or ETP.]
82. Michael del Castillo
When Michael del Castillo, a talented writer and in-demand moderator for crypto panels, jumped from CoinDesk to Forbes in 2018, it immediately raised the publication’s standing in the community. And it was a perfect place for the pony-tailed MDC, a journalist whose specialty is covering the business side of blockchain technology.
83. Brian Behlendorf
Brian Behlendorf and Daniel Barbosa are leading Hyperledger efforts to create open source cross-chain interoperability on behalf of the Linux Foundation. Behlendorf has served on the boards of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Mozilla, and is the former chair of the World Economic Forum.
84, 85. Bart & Brad Stephens
Co-founders & Managing Partners
Bart Stephens and Brad Stephens are two of the most active investors in the blockchain space. They have funded over 72 companies across the crypto ecosystem with a portfolio that includes BitGo, BitFury, BitPesa, BlockOne, Blockstream, Chain, Civic, Coinbase, Filecoin, Harbor, Kraken, Messari, Orchid, Radar Relay, Ripple, Securitize and 0x.
86. Alice Lloyd George
As principal at New York-based VC firm RRE Ventures, Alice Lloyd George focuses on emerging technologies including blockchain, machine intelligence and computer vision, robotics, virtual and augmented reality, and NewSpace. A veteran of Bridgewater Associates, the Brookings Institute, and the Wall Street Journal, she works with RRE blockchain portfolio companies including peer-to-peer digital cash transfer app Abra and secure cryptocurrency app development platform Gem (formerly BitVault), as well as non-blockchain companies like VR firm 8i and small satellite launch access firm Spaceflight. She is also the host of the Flux Podcast, where she has interviewed tech visionaries on subjects ranging from crypto futures to3D printing to neural computing interfaces.
87. Avichal Garg
Avichal Garg is a thought leader in the programmable money space and launched his crypto asset management firm, Electric Capital, earlier this year “to invest in liquid and illiquid tokens that are emerging stores of value and rooted in novel technology.” He is backed by Adrian Fenty’s M Ventures and his first investments have been in two very popular Silicon Valley deals – Andy Bromberg’s compliant token platform, Coinlist, and the privacy-first cloud-computing platform, Oasis Labs. His profile reads like the ultimate Silicon Valley insider: Stanford grad, ex-Google, ex-Facebook, Y Combinator, data driven investor—a power player by any definition.
88. Hunter Horsley
Bitwise Asset Management
Co-founder & CEO
Hunter Horsley is the co-founder and CEO of Bitwise Asset Management, a cryptocurrency index fund backed by Naval Ravikant, Blockchain Capital, General Catalyst and Khosla Ventures. Horsley checks all the boxes as a Silicon Valley power player: Wharton grad, Forbes 30 Under 30, ex-Facebook, ex-Instagram, data driven investor. Major deals this year include partnering with Morgan Creek to launch the $500 million Digital Asset Index Fund.
89. Joshua Klayman
Josh Klayman is one of the most influential blockchain attorneys in the industry. She is the chair of the Wall Street Blockchain Alliance Legal Working Group, a member of the Wharton RegTech thinktank, and sits on the Delaware Blockchain Strategy Committee. Chambers and Partners recognized Klayman as one of the top 12 blockchain and cryptocurrency lawyers globally. This past summer, she left Morrison Foerster to set up her own shop, Klayman LLC. She has her JD from Temple University and graduated summa cum laude from University of Pennsylvania.
90. Benny Giang
Benny Giang is the chief evangelist for the collectible cat game, CryptoKitties, and speaks and blogs frequently on how ERC721 nonfungible tokens (NFTs) provide transparency, authenticity, provenance, interoperability and liquidity for assets and will ultimately drive mass adoption of the blockchain. —
91. Ba Minuzzi
Co-founder & General Partner
Ba Minuzzi is a financial advisor to ultra high net worth families in Brazil and impact investor that seeks to improve the lives of people at mass scale leveraging distributed ledger technology. Her investments include Codex, a decentralized registry for art and collectibles, Filecoin, censor proof storage, and Oasis Labs, high performance cloud computing on the blockchain.
92. Donna Redel
New York Angels
Board Member, Co-chair, Blockchain Committee
Donna Redel is a board member of NY Angels where she co-chairs the Blockchain Committee, leveraging her experience as managing director of the World Economic Forum, chair of the New York Commodity Exchange (COMEX) and CIO of Prudential Securities.
93. Rachel Rose O’Leary
Nobody writes about Ethereum and privacy quite like O’Leary. She is Vitalik Buterin’s biggest evangelist and toughest tastemaker.
94. Kim Dotcom
The founder of now-defunct file hosting giant MegaUpload, Kim Dotcom is in the final stage of appealing a New Zealand extradition order that could see him facing up to 20 years in prison over U.S. copyright infringement charges. In the past two years, he has announced several versions of a forthcoming cryptocurrency—most recently in July 2018—aimed at creating a direct payment channel between content creators and buyers.
95. Steve Wozniak
Steve Wozniak aka “Woz” is one of the visionary pioneers of the industry that enables you to read this short biographical blurb on something other than paper and in a decentralized location. More specifically, Wozniak was a co-founder of Apple Computer in 1976. An electrical engineer by training and a serial entrepreneur with continued interest in cutting edge technologies, education, and Star Trek, Wozniak recently joined Doug Barrowman’s blockchain startup EQUI as a co-founder along with Baroness Michelle Mone OBE. EQUI describes itself as a traditional venture capital fund with the added wrinkle of investors having the opportunity for on-demand liquidity via the firm’s security token.
96. Ian Balina
The “Ian Balina Effect” still refers to crypto projects that flourish with his seal of approval. It’s not 100 percent, but his ability to pick winners and communicate in common sense language why he made his choices makes him a thought leader for young crypto enthusiasts.
97. Linda Xie
Co-founder & Managing Director
Linda Xie spent the year launching Scalar Capital, a $20 million crypto hedge fund based in San Francisco backed by Coinbase founders Brian Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam, Andreessen Horowitz’s Marc Andreessen and Chris Dixon, and Bain Capital Ventures. Scalar’s First Annual Summit featured thought leaders from a16z, Blockchain Capital, Coinbase, Electric Capital, Zcash and 0x. The ultimate insider, Xie is Y Combinator alum, Forbes “30 Under 30”, ex-Coinbase, and advisor to 0x, which her husband, Will Warren, co-founded and which Coinbase recently started to trade.
98. Daniel Roberts
Yahoo Finance’s Dan Roberts generally covers the business of sports but he has become the site’s in-house expert on cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. With Yahoo Finance’s 90 million monthly visitors, Roberts has quite a reach with retail investors.
99. Matt Corallo
He can pick apart code and tell you which protocols will move into scam territory when they scale. But in 2018, the Bitcoin Core coder took a developer’s approach to fixing crypto’s diversity problem by tracking it to its source in the code. “The many studies indicating broader sets of backgrounds and viewpoints add a ton to the quality of decisions made in management should be pretty overwhelming evidence for anyone who cares about evidence-based decision making.”
100. Christopher Giancarlo
Commodity Futures Trading Commission
As Chair of the CFTC, Christopher Giancarlo’s importance to the cryptocurrency market exploded on Sept. 26, when a federal judge ruled that virtual currencies like bitcoin and XRP are commodities, upholding his agency’s authority to investigate and prosecute fraud in those markets. But his importance to, and in, the cryptocurrency market blew up on Feb. 6, when he used his opening remarks to a Senate hearing to explain how Bitcoin had finally gotten his children interested and even excited in investing for the first time. His Twitter account @giancarloCFTC grew to some 49,000 after that hearing, and he embraced the medium, as well as the hashtag #cryptodad. The agency he leads has been aggressive in pursuing bad actors in the cryptocurrency market, reportedly leveling about $900 million in fines in FY 2018, which ran through Sept. 30. While pointing to that record, Giancarlo—who has announced he will not seek reappointment next year—said on Oct. 1 that the CFTC is “innovative and thoughtful when it comes to innovation,” in the cryptocurrency business. He added: “I personally think that cryptocurrencies are here to stay. I think there is a future for them. I’m not sure they ever come to rival the dollar or other hard currencies, but there’s a whole section of the world that really is hungry for functioning currencies that they can’t find in their local currencies… Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies may solve some of the problems.”