The Blockchain space is filled with amazing individuals. People that are willing to advance the technology to new heights and people that have left their mark in the space. We have composed a list of 30 people that we believe are invaluable to the blockchain space and community. The list itself is not organized in any specific manner. We are, of course, missing many people but we did our best! If you believe there is someone that should be on this list and isn't, let us know!
30 Most Influential People in the Blockchain Space
Although the list is not ranked in order of importance, I think it wouldn’t make sense to start the list with anyone else. Satoshi Nakamoto is the creator of bitcoin and there’s a lot of mystery surrounding his identity. He was never seen in real life and was last heard of in 2011. There is a lot of speculation about his true identity: there have been a lot of people accused of being Satoshi but they all seem to deny; others say that Satoshi was in fact a group of people and not a single individual; conspiracy theorist claim that Satoshi was from the CIA and bitcoin was either a global currency for the new world order or the first full-fledged IA. In my opinion the fact that the identity of bitcoin’s is unknown adds some magic to an already awesome revolutionary currency.
Profession: Software Engineer and Entrepreneu
He is known for co-creating the very first web browser, Mosaic and was one of the early proponents of bitcoins. His highly successful firm has and continues to make big investments on bitcoins. He also wrote a famous article for New York Times (“Why Bitcoins Matters”) where he praised the value of bitcoins.
Profession: Author, Scholar, Researcher and Speaker
Don Tapscott has authored coauthored more than 15 books (Paradigm Shift, The Digital Economy, Growing Up Digital, Digital Capital, The Naked Corporation, Grown Up Digital and his latest one Blockchain Revolution). He is the CEO of The Tapscott Group, was founder and chairman of the international think tank New Paradigm and is also the leader of Global Solution Networks, doing research study of the potential of global web-based networks for problem solving, governance and cooperation. His focus is on how technology will bring an organizational transformation to not only business but society in general.
Profession: Executive, Author
The son of Don Tapscott, Alex Tapscott, currently serve as the CEO of Northwest Passage Ventures, an advisory firm building industry-leading blockchain businesses. It’s as if both father and son act as duo, they both co-authored the critically acclaimed #1 Globe and Mail best-seller, Blockchain Revolution. Alex also wrote many articles featured in publications such as Harvard Business Review, Fortune, TIME, Quartz, The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, the McKinsey Quarterly, and The Huffington Post.
Profession: Computer Scientist, Legal Scholar and Cryptographer
He is known for his research in digital contracts and digital currency and designed bitgold in 1998, a mechanism for a decentralized digital currency. Although bitgold was never implement it was crucial for the development of bitcoin ten years later. He is also credited with coining the term “smart contracts.” Some claim that Nick Szabo might be Satoshi himself, but he, however, denies it.
Profession: Programmer and Cryptographer Activist
Finney, like most on this list, was a pioneer in bitcoin. He created the first reusable proof-of-work system before bitcoin existed and he also took part in the first ever Bitcoin transaction, receiving bitcoins from Satoshi Nakamoto. He programmed until he died in 2014 and asked to be cryopreserved. His last project, an experimental software called bcflick, which aimed to improve bitcoin wallet security through trusted computing.
He helped program bitcoin code together with Satoshi Nakamoto and is one of the most prominent members of the bitcoin community. So much so, that he has access to the alert key that allows him to broadcast messages about critical network problems to all Bitcoin clients. Control of the source code repository and the alert key was handed down from Satoshi to Andresen before disappearing.
Adam Back is no stranger to bitcoin, he has worked on e-cash protocols since 1995. He was first to implement hashcash proof-of-work and decentralized mining, functions used in Bitcoin.
He has been a very active and outspoken member of the Bitcoin community, frequently commenting on issues such as scalability, privacy, and mining technology. Today, Adam Back is the president of Blockstream.
Profession: Technologist, Entrepreneur, Speaker and Author
Andreas is the writer of “Mastering Bitcoin”, a famous guide for learning bitcoin, and is very well known as public speaker, being sometimes referred to as the ambassador of bitcoin. Speaking proactively about cryptocurrencies and bitcoin to a large audience, he has appeared many times as a guest on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. In his free time, he also likes to advise numerous startups and has even the advised the Canadian Senate on one occasion. He was famous for “The Internet of Money” term, used when describing bitcoin.
Patrick Byrne is the CEO of e-retailer giant Overstock.com, the first major retailer to accept bitcoin as payment long before Microsoft and Dell came along. Often referred to as the “scourge of wall street”, he believes it’s just a matter of time until wall street adopts bitcoin technology.
Roger Ver, also known as “bitcoin jesus”, was the first person in the world to start investing in Bitcoin startups, helping fund the seed rounds for the entire first generation of Bitcoin businesses. He’s very interested in Voluntaryism, a philosophy that suggest that all forms of human association should be voluntary, and pretends to make bitcoin fee free by making blocks bigger. He recently seems to have stopped supporting bitcoins and now claims that altcoins are the future.
Profession: Programmer and Entrepreneur
Vitalik Buterin is one of the founders of the ethereum project. Ethereum has gone through a lot of ups and downs since it’s conception in 2015. 2016 was no different, with the launch of Homestead, the second ethereum release, and the hack of The DAO. Ethereum is the current number 2 cryptocurrency in terms of volume of transactions and was responsible for bringing a lot of innovation to the crypto world. With the strong community support it has the future looks bright for Ethereum, let’s seem how it fares in 2017.
The DAO hacker
The attack on The DAO rocked the blockchain world and the person/people behind it deserve a spot on this list. The hacker/hackers took advantage of what observers once described as a “come-in-and-take-free-money” sign built into the code. This situation led to the creation of ethereum classic, a rival currency to ethereum created by unsatisfied stakeholders. But not at all is bad, this critical bug in the smart contract was bound to be discovered eventually and this might serve as a learning lesson for the future: smart contracts can be dangerous if there is even a single flaw in the code.
Adam Ludwin is the co-founder and CEO of Chain, a blockchain technology company that offers financial institutions to other companies. They got a lot of buzz in 2016 for making a deal with financial and payments industry leaders like Visa, Nasdaq and others. The partnership resulted in 30 million in equity funding, Visa planning to launch blockchain-based payment services in 2017 and to the release of an open-source permissioned blockchain protocol dubbed Chain OS 1, now Chain Protocol, its most ambitious release to date.
A co-founder of bitcoin startup Blockstream and one of the more prominent developers on the open-source Bitcoin Core team’s bench, Pieter Wuille is also the second-most prolific bitcoin contributor to date, according to Bitcoin.org. He was responsible for many Bitcoin Improvement Proposals (BIP), and is the primary author of libsecp256k1, a library for efficient elliptic curve cryptography for use in Bitcoin.
Profession: Executive and Entrepreneur
Bobby Lee is the CEO of BTCChina, the world's current second largest bitcoin exchange as of 2014. Founded in 2011, it was China's first bitcoin exchange, and most of its customers are thought to be Chinese. Bobby Lee joined in 2013, after investing his own money and attracting other investors, and contributed to the growth of the company in terms of market share and also in workforce, BTCChina now has 20 employees, instead of 2 when Bobby Lee joined.
He started his career in Silicon Valley as a software engineer at Yahoo!, and led the development of the earliest online communities and was highly successful in the academic world as well, having graduated from Stanford University with B.S. and M.S. degrees in Computer Science. Mr. Lee currently serves on the board of Bitcoin Foundation, a non-profit organization that fosters the adoption of bitcoin globally.
Profession: Programmer, Cryptocurrency Enthusiast and Entrepreneur, Litecoin founder
Charles Lee is the brother of Bobby Lee, and is best known for being the litecoin founder. He was a former google employee that became so inspired by bitcoin that he decided to create his own cryptocurrency in 2011. Litecoin has many technical similarities to bitcoin and it’s the current fourth-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization after bitcoin, ethereum, and ripple. Also known as coblee, at the present moment he works as the director of engineering at Coinbase.
Profession: Executive and Entrepreneur
Barry Silbert started his career as an investment banker and is now the founder and CEO of Digital Currency Group, a company helping to build the foundation of the digital currency and blockchain technology industry by working as an active seed investor in the digital currency industry, with over 50 investments in 15 countries including BitGo, BitPay, BitPagos, BitPesa, Chain, Circle, Coinbase, Gyft, Kraken, Ripple Labs, TradeBlock, Unocoin, and Xapo. In addition, Barry also created the Bitcoin Investment Trust (BIT) and was responsible for ethereum classic. Grayscale Investments, a Digital Currency Group company, launched ethereum classic after the DAO hack scandal. Prior to founding Digital Currency Group, Barry founded SecondMarket, a platform that enables private companies and investment funds to more efficiently raise capital and provide liquidity to their stakeholders. SecondMarket has received numerous accolades in recent years including being named by the World Economic Forum as a Technology Pioneer and has received honors from Forbes, Fast Company, Deloitte and other organizations. Barry has received several individual honors including being named Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young and Crain's, and being selected to Fortune's prestigious "40 Under 40" list.
Emin Gun Sirer
Profession: Software Engineer, Schoolar
Emin is the co-director of IC3 and associate professor of computer science at Cornell University. But he is most well known to be a system builder and has made vast contributions on the field of cryptocurrencies, helping build many functional systems for bitcoin(Bitcoin-NG, Covenants, Falcon Relay System) and also for ethereum(helped with smart contracts and to expose multiple flaws on the DAO, before the hack); and has worked on NoSQL and data stores(created HyperDex and Weaver). Not only that but he was also behind Karma, the first peer-to-peer currency with a distributed mint, and helped create Nexus, an operating system for trustworthy computing. His research interests span distributed systems, cryptocurrencies, and software infrastructure for large scale services.
Profession: Programmer and Computer Security Specialist
Zooko Wilcox-O'Hearn has more than 20 years of experience in secure distributed systems, free and open source software, and startups. He is known for his work on DigiCash, Mojo Nation, ZRTP, “Zooko's Triangle”, and more. He is one of the co-founders of the Tahoe-LAFS project and also the founder and CEO of Least Authority Enterprises, an affordable, ethical, usable, and lasting data storage solution. He recently became part of the founding team of Zcash, a recent, upcoming cryptocurrency.
Profession: Executive and Entrepreneur
Vinny Lingham is a famous entrepreneur and the current co-founder and CEO of Civic.com, a blockchain startup. He is also one of the shark on the south african version of Shark Tank, and has made the first bitcoin deal on the history of the program. He was the founder and CEO of Gyft, a mobile gift card app, and also the founder of Yola.com, a web development and hosting company that enables users without prior programming knowledge to develop websites. Vinny is a celebrity entrepreneur in Africa, having been selected has as an Endeavor “High Impact Entrepreneur” in 2006, winning Top Young ICT Entrepreneur in Africa (2006), and was also a finalist for Men’s Health Best Man (2009) and ICT Personality of the Year in South Africa (2008). A previous company he had founded, Clicks2Customers, also won the Top Technology Company award in South Africa in 2006. He has previously served as a marketing advisor for Valueclick and Yahoo.blockchain startup.
Profession: Speaker, Author and Radiohost
Brett King is a best-selling author, a well-known industry commentator, and a speaker as well, being the host of the BREAKING BANK$ radio show on Voice America, an Internet talk-radio network with over nine million monthly listeners. As if this was not enough, he’s the founder of Move as well, a revolutionary mobile-based banking service. King was voted as American Banker’s Innovator of the Year in 2012, and his brand, Moven, was nominated by Bank Innovation as one of the Top 10 "coolest brands in banking."
Profession: Speaker, Scholar and Financial Advisor
Michael Kitces is another success story on our list. He started out as a life insurance agent, and now is a proliferant public speak and financial technology advisor. He decided to learn as much as he could about the financial world while he was starting out, and now has8 degrees and designations under his belt. He is most famous for being the writer of The Nerd’s Eye View blog, reaching more than 150,000 unique visitors every month.
Profession: Executive and Entrepreneur
Dan Morehead is founder and CEO of Pantera Capital, a San Francisco-based investment firm. Pantera Capital was founded in 2003 and originally focused on global macro hedge-fund investments, but as of 2014, it shifted its focus exclusively to bitcoin and other digital currencies. Prior to founding Pantera, Morehead was CFO at Tiger Management and held executive roles at Deutsche Bank, Bankers Trust, and Goldman Sachs. He founded and was CEO of Atriax, an electronic foreign exchange platform, which closed in 2002 amid controversy. Morehead also led funding and is on the board of directors of Bitstamp, which as of 2015 is the fourth largest bitcoin exchange.
Profession: Executive and Entrepreneur
Erik Voorhees is a top-recognized Bitcoin advocate and entrepreneur. He has been a featured guest on Bloomberg, Fox Business, CNBC, BBC Radio, The Peter Schiff Show, and numerous Bitcoin and industry conferences. Erik founded ShapeShift AG in August 2014 as an elegant, secure, and fast solution to cryptocurrency exchanges. Prior to the creation of ShapeShift, buying cryptocurrencies was a lengthy process that required account creation and forfeiture of personal data to the service provider.
Erik was most recently featured on the 2016 documentary, “Banking on Bitcoin.” His past blockchain company affiliations include: BitInstant, Coinapult and, most notably, SatoshiDice, which was responsible for most of the Bitcoin transactions in 2012 and 2013.
Profession: Entrepreneur and Speaker
Perianne Boring is the president and founder of the Chamber of Digital Commerce, an american trade association representing the interests of the digital asset community. The Digital Chamber’s mission is to educate policymakers in shaping regulation and advocate for the acceptance and use of digital assets. She has been an important contributor for pressing the blockchain technology matter into the US House of Representatives and helping drive the conversation towards the need for legislation. Ms. Boring is a frequent speaker at financial technology conferences, and has also testified before governments around the world. She was named the top woman in Bitcoin by Coinfilter, for her efforts in public policy, promoting a pro-growth legal framework for digital assets. Ms. Boring is also the author of the “Boring Bitcoin Report,” a leading industry news blog and prior to forming the Digital Chamber, Ms. Boring was a television host and anchor of “Prime Interest,” an international finance program that aired in over 100 countries to over 650 million viewers. Ms. Boring also wrote for Forbes, being the author of the “Boring Economics.” column.
Richard Gendal Brown
Profession: Executive and Technology Advisor
Richard Brown is the chief technology officer for R3CEV, a startup firm focused on building and empowering the next generation of global financial services technology. R3, as it’s often abbreviated to, is focused on building a partnership of global banks to design and deliver advanced distributed ledger technologies to the global financial markets and the banking system. In 2016, R3 decided to make the Corda platform open source and although Corda still has a long way to go, with Mr. Richards admitting it himself, its conceptual basis arguably impacted the industry and its trajectory moving forward. The Corda project is a permissioned distributed ledger enabling the management of legal agreements between financial institutions, with restrictions on which parties can see what types of information. On his free time, Mr. Richards has advised several firms, like Chromaway and Elliptic Enterprises, about cryptocurrencies and decentralization.
Profession: Entrepreneur and Researcher
Brian Forde has spent over a decade at the forefront of entrepreneurship, technology and public policy. Presently assuming the function of Director of Digital Currency at the MIT Media Lab, he leads efforts to make the use of digital currencies like bitcoin widespread, through the development of technology and high-impact applications. In the past, he worked for the White House as a Senior Advisor for Mobile and Data Innovation. To help realize the projected impact of bitcoin, he recently launched the Digital Currency Initiative at the MIT Media Lab and has the support of global professionals from multiple areas like cryptography, distributed systems and economics.
Profession: Executive and Financial Technology Advisor
Oliver Bussmann has a worldwide reputation and proven track record driving large-scale digital transformation and innovation in both high-tech and financial services. He served as UBS’s Chief Information Officer for the past 3 years, leading a major IT transformation effort and establishing UBS as a pioneer in the development of blockchain for use in financial services. Prior to joining UBS Oliver was CIO at SAP for five years, where he also spearheaded significant technological transformation and, before that, he was CIO for Mexico and North America Allianz for nine years. Previous roles included executive positions at Deutsche Bank and IBM. He is one of the most awarded executives in the world, having won the 2016 Nasscom’s Golbal CIO Award, 2015 CTO of the year by Financial News/The Wall Street Journal, the Elite 8 Award by Wall Street & Technology Magazine in 2013 and 2012 CIO of the year by business school INSEAD and CIONET.
Profession: Execution and Public Relations Experts
Christine Lu has spent the last twenty years active in cross border Chinese business and investment trends. She is recognized as a Digital Leader by the United Nations Foundation and named to Foreign Policy’s inaugural “Pacific Power Index” which recognizes 50 individuals shaping the future of U.S. and China ties. From 1999 to 2004, Christine lived in Shanghai and was head of Marketing for TV Shopping Network, overseeing the company’s marketing and new business development and starting her own e-commerce and direct marketing businesses. During these years, Christine was also an active member of The American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai’s Marketing Committee. As she returned to the U.S., Christine produced a podcast show for Entrepreneur Magazine called “The China Business Show” which gave birth into a platform called The China Business Network. However, in 2009 she decided to sell her interests in the company and shift her focus on the tech sectors and startups. She led cross border China initiatives that included co-organizing the first GeeksOnAPlane Silicon Valley tech influencer tours and also brought one of the first TEDx events to China, TEDxShanghai. In 2010 she founded Affinity Chin, a chinese private social network providing its members with exclusive luxury lifestyle and travel opportunities. Recently Christine is more focused on investments that bring fortg innovation and social impact. She is active in a number of cross border funds, like E3 capital, and is helping that these investment platforms focused have a positive impact on transforming communities across America by accelerating the development of innovation districts.
Gilles Babinet, also known as the Digital Champion of France, started his first company (Escalade Industries) in 1989, at the age of 22. Since then, he has established himself as a successful businessman with 9 companies under various areas of activity. Gilles set up Absolut, a consultancy firm specializing in product designing and marketing, and through this firm, he was involved in the growing Entertainment mobile market. After that he decided selling Absolut was the best decision and dedicated himself to the creation of Musiwave. Musiwave is now the leading European provider of mobile music and entertainment services to telecommunication operators and media. Currently, along with his business Gilles serves as an executive director in Mobile Entertainment Forum.
Profession: Speaker, Author and Financial Advisor
Jim Marous is a famous author and an authority in retail banking and financial technology. He has been featured many times by CNBC, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, The Financial Times, The Economist, The American Banker, Accenture and Forbes and has spoken to audiences worldwide. Jim has also advised the White House on banking policy and is a regular contributor and guest host for the Breaking Banks radio show. He is considered to be among the top 5 global financial technology influencers, having authored “Digital Banking Report”, co-authored “The Financial Brand” and spent 15 years as a financial marketing consultant to top 25 North American banking organizations earlier in his career.
Bruce Porter Jr.
Profession: Entrepreneur and Social Media Marketing Expert
American entrepreneur who owns DC Translation LLC and EmmeGirls LLC, Bruce Porter Jr. is also the Chairman and CEO of GlobalBoost, a technology company based in Washington, DC. He is recognized worldwide as an expert in social media, IT, mobile, applications, event production, and staffing. Mr Porter's experience has put him on the forefront of the social media advertising revolution, having the ability to use social networks to drive great traffic via relevant keywords to specific websites. On the IT side he’s an expert in translating user requirements into web development services and optimizing websites for search engine results. Mr. Porter has not only developed training programs for a variety of government agencies and commercial companies but he has also built social networks for private and public entities and has trained multiple user groups through use of flexible virtual environments. His experience in search engine optimization and developing social networking environments have reduced substantial cost for clients while increasing profits for a variety of customers in the sales market space.
Profession: Author, Entrepreneur, Speaker and Digital Commerce Advisor
Dinis Guarda is a Portuguese entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of Ztudium group, which include intelligentHQ.com and socialmediacouncil.eu that he is also a founder of. Between 2008 and 2011 he co-managed Saxo Bank’s web/online marketing strategy and created tradingfloor.com. He has participated in many web projects and has worked before on projects with the UN and governments, as well as a wide variety of financial, technology and consumer companies such as Reuters, MasterCard, P&G, Philips, Vodafone, and Nike. Dinis has also worked with artists such as David Bowie, Patti Smith, Depeche Mode, Michel Gondry, Steen Jakobsen, and Brian Solis. He is currently an active speaker, guest lecturing recently at Copenhagen Business School, and has written many articles over the years on various different topics.