When it comes to revolutions in the world of technology, the arrival of the world wide web in the 90s changed everything, as it introduced the internet to every household. 30 years since the WWW, another revolutionary change has arrived in form of the blockchain technology. While blockchain tech is at a very nascent stage as of now, the potential applications and innovations that are being planned out and developed are pathbreaking!
As this revolution came along, some people were perceptive enough to identify it in the early stages and worked towards this new, untapped sector with a great rigor. Today, these people have become some of the most influential names in the blockchain space. Let us take a closer look at who these individuals are and why are they so influential.
The Top 10 Names in Blockchain
Here are the top 10 people in the blockchain space, listed in the alphabetical order (this is not a ranking and we believe that all these men have a significant yet similar amount of influence over the sector, which is still at a very early stage).
One of the most popular tech-entrepreneurs across the globe, Andreas Antonopoulos used to work with cybersecurity before tapping into the Bitcoin and Blockchain space in 2012. Since then, he has dedicated almost all of his time talking and writing about the blockchain and cryptocurrency ecosystems.
Among the first Bitcoin evangelists, Antonopoulos continues to consult cryptocurrency startups and is a frequent name across cryptocurrency and blockchain conferences and events. At one point in time, Antonopoulos also advised the Canadian Senate. He is the author of ‘Mastering Bitcoin’ and is indeed one of the most influential names in the world of blockchain technology.
The co-founder and CEO of Coinbase, Brian Armstrong is one of the most popular names in the North American cryptocurrency industry. One of the earliest names to tap into the cryptocurrency ecosystems, Armstrong (along with Fred Ehrsam) started off with Coinbase in 2011, which was meant to be a platform for easy access to purchase of cryptocurrencies. Today, it has evolved into a global giant worth billions of dollars.
Armstrong often called the rockstar of the blockchain ecosystem, is a familiar face at several cryptocurrency and blockchain related conferences. He is one of the most vocal proponents of the blockchain technology – and the CEO of the biggest cryptocurrency exchange in North America, making him a very important and influential person in the blockchain industry.
Brock Pierce is not just an influential name in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space, but he is also one of the most charismatic individuals in the industry. Before he started off with his entrepreneurial ventures and much before cryptocurrencies were even a thing, Pierce was an actor who appeared in various commercials as a child – and later in a series of movies till his late teens. He started off with his entrepreneurial ventures at the age of 17 when he co-founded Digital Entertainment Network (DEN).
Pierce, however, is most popularly known for his work in the cryptocurrency and blockchain ecosystem. He co-founded Blockchain Capital in 2013. The company managed to raise 85 Million in two venture funds by October 2017. Blockchain Capital was also the initial force behind the EOS cryptocurrency and blockchain platform, but the currency was later marketed under a different entity, Block.One – where Pierce served as the CEO (and later the CSO).
If this wasn’t impressive enough, Brock Pierce has also served as the director of the Bitcoin Foundation in May 2014 – however, he had to step down due to some controversies. Pierce continues to be an influential name in the cryptocurrency and blockchain ecosystems.
Charlie Lee, the co-founder of Litecoin is among the most well-known men in the cryptocurrency and blockchain ecosystems. A former Google employee as well as an early investor in Bitcoins, Charlie Lee realized the potential of the blockchain technology at a very early stage and started off with his own blockchain platform and cryptocurrency: Litecoin, in October 2011.
As of this writing, Lee’s Litecoin is the seventh largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization and has been known as the ‘digital silver’ to Bitcoin’s ‘digital gold’. Lee believes that Litecoin is a much more suitable cryptocurrency when it comes to smaller transactions – particularly for the likes of day-to-day retail trade. Lee is also actively involved in working with the Litecoin Foundation. Lee also worked for four years with Coinbase, stepping down in 2017 as the Director of Engineering for the platform.
A blockchain entrepreneur known primarily for co-founding Lighting Labs (where she also serves as the CEO), Elizabeth Stark is one of the most influential women in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space. A former professor at Stanford and Yale, Stark also serves as a mentor at the Thiel Fellowship. She has also been an advocate for free internet, known for her protests against the SOPA and PIPA.
She is among the most charismatic and individual persons in the blockchain ecosystem and has been in the limelight of late due to her work with Lightning Labs, which developed the Lightning Network protocol – making it possible for cryptocurrency transactions to be faster as well as more cost effective.
Erik T. Voorhees
The Founder and CEO of ShapeShift, Erik Voorhees is one of the most influential names in the world of blockchain and cryptocurrency ecosystems. Another vocal proponent of the blockchain technology, Voorhees has always been very open about expressing his opinions. Voorhees has written several posts on his blog talking about the nature of money as well as on politics.
In addition to being the founder and CEO of ShapeShift, Erik Voorhees is also known for his Bitcoin gambling game SatoshiDice. Blockchain and cryptocurrency games are getting quite popular and Voorhees was among the first to capitalize on that. Voorhees is also known for his work with Coinapult, a company which transfers Bitcoins over the e-mail and even over SMS! Voorhees continues to be an important name in the blockchain ecosystem.
The co-founder of Bitmain Technologies, Jihan Wu is among the most popular names in the Chinese blockchain ecosystem. Wu’s firm, Bitmain, is the biggest manufacturer of cryptocurrency mining equipment worldwide, holding a dominating market share of close to 80%, Bitmain is an international giant which continues to innovate its offerings – becoming the first name to offer ASIC miners for mining Ethereum this year.
Jihan Wu, who holds a degree in Economics from the Peking University in China, is also a proponent of Bitcoin Cash. While he is seen as a controversial figure in the cryptocurrency and blockchain ecosystem, his views and opinions about the future of the technology are well respected and well received worldwide. All eyes are on Jihan Wu, as Bitmain aims to launch the biggest-ever cryptocurrency related IPO ever.
Nick Szabo has been working in the cryptocurrency ecosystems even before the word cryptocurrency was coined. He is primarily known for being the creator of the BitGold proposal in 1998, which is widely believed to be the predecessor of what eventually became Bitcoin, 10 years after this proposal. Szabo is also known as the father of ‘smart contracts’. There have been many who claim that Nick Szabo is in fact, Satoshi Nakamoto, the anonymous founder of cryptocurrencies. However, Szabo continues to deny this claim.
Szabo is a legal scholar and a cryptographer who has a sizeable following on Twitter, where he expresses his views on cryptocurrencies and the blockchain ecosystem regularly. Szabo is also a legal scholar and tends to comments on various issues from time to time. Having the foresight decades into the future, Szabo is indeed a very influential man in the blockchain space.
A controversial personality when it comes to the world of cryptocurrencies and the blockchain technology, Roger Ver, often known as ‘Bitcoin Jesus’ was one of the earliest investors in the blockchain sector. Ver who owns the popular wallet service and news platform Bitcoin.com, has been an active proponent of Bitcoin Cash since 2017 – and has become one of the leading voices in the Bitcoin Cash ecosystem.
Regardless of his tendency to be involved in several controversies, Ver continues to be an influential name in the blockchain industry – primarily because of his early work with the sector. He was the key investor in some of the earliest blockchain-based startups and an active voice contributing towards turning heads towards cryptocurrencies and blockchain systems. Ver continues to speak at various events and conferences.
Having first conceptualized Ethereum in a white paper at the age of 19, Vitalik Buterin showed early signs of being a ‘prodigy’ when it comes to the blockchain and cryptocurrencies ecosystem. The 24-year old is considered as one of the brightest and the sharpest minds in the world of blockchain technology and an extremely influential figure in the space.
Ethereum, the second largest cryptocurrency and the largest ICO platform in the world – has one thing that even Bitcoin does not offer: a diverse use case for its blockchain platform. While Bitcoin is limited to finance, the Ethereum blockchain platform offers a much diverse array of functions, including hosting smart contracts and ICOs. Buterin was the co-founder of Bitcoin Magazine at the age of 17 following which he dedicated two years to learning the blockchain technology and its various applications.
Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum is arguably the most influential name in the world of blockchain technology in 2018 – and given his track record as a young visionary, he has the potential to bring forward many path-breaking changes in the years to follow.
Honorary Mention: Satoshi Nakamoto
To conclude, an honorary mention to the anonymous person or the group of persons known as Satoshi Nakamoto – had he/they not been there, the whole industry would perhaps never have started. The anonymous founder(s) of Bitcoin launched the Bitcoin cryptocurrency and blockchain platform in 2009 – and the rest has been history.