We're thrilled to bring you a brief introduction into some of the most influential movers and minds in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space according to CoinDesk. Among them, it'd be wrong not to talk about – Changpeng Zhao, the founder, and CEO of the world-renowned cryptocurrency exchange – Binance.
Now while we tend to have our eyes focused on cryptocurrency exchange has had an incredible rise to prominence in the western world. This is a narrative that does no favors for those that have also achieved spectacular things in a short stretch of time.
Coinbase, while successfully drawing in tens of thousands of members on a daily basis, this is rendered a mild accomplishment when compared to the fact that Binance has managed to move from White Paper to an incredible $12 million ICO.
Zhao has been as febrile as Binance has been over the same time, coordinating the creation of a number of projects, leading to – Binance Exchange, Binance Labs; Binance Charity, Binance Info, Binance Launchpad, and the Trust Wallet.
The way is a bright one for Zhao and Binance, and we hope that it continues its performance as we walk into the New Year.
The Untested, New Radical Mover – Glen Weyl
“So What is a Good Application of Ethereum? Avoiding nuclear winter.”
Wise words coming from one of the new, radical faces coming from the world of blockchain. And it makes sense when you consider the pedigree of knowledge and experience he brings with him; Former Microsoft Researcher, economist, and accomplished author.
His own interactions with Ethereum, and its extensive community flow well with his book ‘Radical Markets', and this relationship with the cryptocurrency world may see his thoughts transcend ink, and become code.
He's been more than active in espousing these thoughts to listening congregations; hosting and giving over 73 talks internationally. While he is not short of charisma, he has proven inflammatory and downright obscure, suggesting a tax on the use of white English.
But in order to better put forward his ideas for how blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies can evolve over time, he has helped found the RadicalXchange, a non-profit organization centered around those that follow his thinking of high taxes on the successful in order to create a universal basic income. Milton Friedman eat your heart out.
Brenna Sparks – Setting Ethereum Ablaze – A Rising Star And Advocate For Cryptocurrency
When it comes to the blockchain and cryptocurrency world, progress comes in different forms –
“Traveling upwards doesn’t require the path to be linear. The path can be paved on hills, too.”
While she is a firm advocate for the application of cryptocurrencies, she is not shy in admitting that she's a newcomer to the space, but is fascinated by its possibilities. Along with her adoration of crypto, she works as an adult film star, Along with serving as an advisor to the blockchain initiative, SpankChain.
What sets SpankChain apart from other companies is that it is one of the few adult companies that managed to raise funds through an ICO, including in its token sale. With a lot of developments coming from the blockchain world, the best solution for right now is making sure there isn't a large exodus of users from blockchain.
“Right now, it’s all about keeping crypto people in crypto. Many just want to leave,”
She goes on to argue that, with the first months being centered around stemming the outgoing flood of people leaving blockchain, then innovation can come along.
“It’s only when things have calmed down that you focus on bringing new people in.”
Warrior Queen And Proud Devils Advocate – Elizabeth Stark
Academia never leaves some people, and Elizabeth Stark has been one of those former students that are not afraid to go against the accepted norms, especially in the cryptocurrency world.
The most prominent examples of this were Stark's own talk during the Crypto Springs Conference back in October this year. While there were plenty of advocates and investors willing to luxuriate in the sun and rose-tinted views of the market, Stark was more than happy to spell out some of the more dark scenarios that could come out of the ongoing crypto-winter.
As the head of her own startup, Lightning Labs, a skeptical eye is necessary for any company starting in cryptocurrency. To many, however, Stark's skepticism comes off as one with a realistic approach, especially when considering the overly-inflated expectations of lofty startups:
“I’m all for experimentation, but I’m not for experimentation if it means that retail investors are going to get sluiced,” she says. “Ninety-five percent of the coins that we have right now will probably fail.”
We all have Elizabeth Stark to thank for a number of things. If it weren't for a mind like hers, there would be no Lightning Network.
Winners Of The Hashtag War – XRP's FUD Stompers
Now while there are a number of unique and prolific individuals that are involved in cryptocurrencies and blockchain, but few times where a community has been regarded as collectively influential in the space.
Among them, the one that stands out is XRP, whose community has been responsible for a highly active, and hawkish community. So when you access a community like Twitter and search XRP, you will stumble upon more than thousands of members, big and small.
When we think about it, there are a number of big names that can be spotted amongst this crowd – XRP Trump, Hodor, Tiffany Hayen, Bank XRP. Among those attributes that make it prominent is its use of hashtags, which serves as shorthand for conversations in and out of the XRP community.
One of the strongest showings from this community is when it engaged in a pluralistic response to Binance's Changpeng Zhao, where he paid an, albeit, somewhat backhanded compliment to the community, stating that “the xrp base shill is strong,” when regarding the push XRP is making to becoming a usable/tradable asset.
“Get it out of your system,” CZ urged, “and put all your shills under this one tweet, and let’s see how much we get.”
Grandfather Of Skeptics – Into The Mind of Nouriel Roubini
Inmates, criminals on the run and cryptocurrencies have parity, especially in the eyes of the accomplished economist and professor, who treats them with equality in his perspectives on them and accompanying tenderness.
This is made evident by his various speeches, tweets, and interviews, giving cryptocurrency the same kind of treatment as an inmate in a maximum security prison. This narrative has earned him a less than rosy opinion in the eyes of crypto enthusiasts.
For good or ill, Roubini represents an intellectual class of people that remain reservedly hostile to cryptos. The problem is that he occasionally buries his arguments in tangential topics and a firm passion for economics as an institutional component of academia.
In the past, when he was asked whether Bitcoin can be seen separately from Blockchain, he replied –
“Bitcoin is based on blockchain and cryptography and authentication based on proof of work”
– moving on to argue how “AI, machine learning and a combination of big data and internet of things”
that will revolutionize finance.
“Ninety-nine percent of anything crypto and blockchain is vapourware,”
so it's safe to say there's a certain amount that would have to change within the space before his rhetoric softens.
Jed McCaleb – From Creating Stellar, Break-ups, to Breaking Out
Jed McCaleb has had an interesting time at the helm of creating Stellar, which is an amazing feat in and of itself. But compared to other influential individuals from within the blockchain space, McCaleb has come out unscathed if we were to look at the likes of Charlie Schrem or Roger Ver.
But talking about the past is not what this is about, but that's not to say that McCaleb hasn't had an interesting past – from forming Mt.Gox, to help in the development of XRP and Ripple, only to form his own newsworthy cryptocurrency after walking away from it.
So what is it that Stellar has to put its hat on? For one, it is responsible for the years biggest acquisition, acquiring major names like Adam Ludwin, and Devon Gundry as part of the purchase of Chain, one of the most widely funded startups.
That's not too bad when we consider how Stellar made its debut as a cryptocurrency, beginning in the shadow of XRP and Ripple, with some deriding it as a spited clone of Ripple.
So what is it that made Stellar successful? Staying off the radar, according to McCaleb.
“It was just sticking around, and not having major catastrophes.”
Riding High From Rock Bottoms – Stable On Getting Stable For The New Year
The financial downturn over the course of 2018, and it has proven to be more than a damaging effect for major companies. Among them, Circle, whos Co-founder, and CEO, Sean Allaire, offered a stark yet comical narration of the companies position.
looking over at Circle's co-founder and president, Sean Neville, “Yeah, clearly Sean's wearing black.” The comedy only continues as people are laughing, and where down turning markets are concerned, it's not a laughing matter for investors.
But while downturns are not a business's best friend, Circle has enjoyed a robust year. 2018 has seen Circle purchased the ailing Poloniex for a total of $400m and is strenuously working to aid its frail reputation.
This was followed swiftly by the establishment of Circle Labs in March, along with a successful Series E round of funding for Circle, worth a total of $110 million from the China-based crypto mining manufacturer, Bitmain.
This is in stark contrast to the landscape for the exchange, which was stuck in a hole over 2017. But 2018 has been a year where it made up for lost time and has optimism as it looks on to the long-term.
“it’s probably going to take 10 to 20 years to realize all these ideas,” he said, “but in the end, it literally can change the world.”
Pitching For A Fight – Fighting For Crypto From Within The SEC – Hester Peirce
The relationship that the Securities and Exchange Commission has with cryptocurrencies has been rather hit and miss over the stretch of both 2017 and 2018. But with this difficulty comes with its fair share of supporters, even from the inside of the SEC.
One of them being Hester Peirce, who works as one of the five commissioners sitting on the SEC, and she is certainly not pulling her punches in defending cryptocurrencies –
“I’m excited to see what’s going to happen over the next 10 years, how our lives will be affected and I’m excited to see how that will happen.”
She has proven herself to be quite the iconoclast in the USA where innovation is being stifled in exchange for firm red tape, making herself out as a champion for crypto
“I don’t want this world to be a world about regulators. I want it to be a world about entrepreneurs.”
It is because of this stance as a supporter that earned her the nickname ‘Crypto Mom', which was an interesting nod to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission's J. Christopher Giancarlo, who is known as the ‘Crypto dad'
So hats off to the ‘Crypto Mom' for fighting the good fight for cryptocurrencies from the inside.
Bridge Over The River Crypto – Can Fidelity's Tom Jessop Create A Bridge Between Crypto And The Stock Market
Tom Jessops forway into the world of cryptocurrency is rather obscure and, albeit mundane if we were to compare it to other people. His takes place his kitchen back in 2013/14 when he began his love affair with Bitcoin specifically.
“This idea of this scarce asset, this fully digital money, cryptographic trust replacing institutional trust – all these things, I thought, were interesting,”
And while he didn't fully understand the internal functions for bitcoin as a cryptocurrency, he was humble in admitting it, and all too patient in finding out all about it. It's thanks to this that Jessop had managed to lead his team at Fidelity Digital Assets (FDAS) through five years of development, to take a strong position in the market.
He has inspired more than a fair few good words from past and current colleagues. According to Jill Carlson, who currently works as a blockchain consultant and a comrade on the world of Wall Street, especially in taking new and emerging technology from theory to the marketplace.
“He has this unique combination of skill sets bridging all these areas and real experience in bringing emerging technologies to market.”
To read the full report on all top ten, head over to CoinDesk.com