Bitcoin
$5,560.60
-56.42
Ethereum
$170.36
-6.41
Litecoin
$40.73
-1.82
DigitalCash
$130.44
-7.77
Monero
$87.00
-3.64
Nxt
$0.05
0
Ethereum Classic
$7.17
-0.45
Dogecoin
$0.00
-0

The Most Influential Names in Crypto 2018

The reason why the crypto industry is where it is at is because of the work of some seriously amazing people. This article is going to be a homage to all those wonderful people. We will do our best to include everyone, however, if we miss out on someone, do let us know in the comments below. Anyway, without any further ado, let’s begin.

Satoshi Nakamoto

We don’t know what Satoshi Nakamoto looks like, in fact, we don’t even know whether he is a man, a woman, or even a group of people. But it goes without saying that Satoshi Nakamoto is the most important figure in the history of cryptocurrencies. This was the person(s) who gave us Bitcoin.

It is hard to fully understand how monumental this person’s contribution is. Not only is Bitcoin the first proper implementation of the decentralized cryptocurrency, it also introduced us to the blockchain technology. Bitcoin was able to solve the Byzantine General’s Problem by utilizing the Proof of Work consensus mechanism. By doing so, Nakamoto was able to effectively solve the double spending problem. He also founded the bitcointalk forum.

Nakamoto claimed to be living in Japan and born on 5th April 1975. However, this has been disputed since then, especially by Stefan Thomas, a Swiss coder, and active community member. He actually graphed the time stamps for each of Nakamoto’s bitcoin forum posts (more than 500). The results are as follows:

  • He didn’t post anything between 5 a.m. and 11 a.m. GMT which translates to 2 pm and 8 pm Japan time.
  • This means that either he had an unnatural sleeping pattern, or lived outside of Japan.

Satoshi Nakamoto owns 980,000 Bitcoins. Meaning that back when Bitcoin hit a high of $19,771, his net worth ballooned up to a staggering $19.4 billion which made him the 44th richest person in the world.

Satoshi Nakamoto disappeared from the scene after December 2010.

Handle: N/A

Quotes:

“The root problem with conventional currency is all the trust that’s required to make it work. The central bank must be trusted not to debase the currency, but the history of fiat currencies is full of breaches of that trust. Banks must be trusted to hold our money and transfer it electronically, but they lend it out in waves of credit bubbles with barely a fraction in reserve. We have to trust them with our privacy, trust them not to let identity thieves drain our accounts.”

To EOS CTO Dan Larimer: “If you don’t believe me or don’t get it, I don’t have time to try to convince you, sorry.”

Andreas Antonopoulos

Andreas Antonopoulos may not be a developer, however, his influence on the crypto-space seriously can’t be overstated. Chances are that you, like many others, have gotten into the crypto space because of his lectures or podcasts. He is a critically-acclaimed best-selling author, speaker, educator, and one of the world’s foremost bitcoin and open blockchain experts.
Antonopoulos was born in London, England, and raised in Athens, Greece. After earning degrees in Computer Science, Data Communications and Distributed Systems at University College London, he went on to co-found and manage a technology research company in New York City. In 2012, Antonopoulos discovered Bitcoin and quickly understood the sheer potential of the project. According to him, Bitcoin can be even more revolutionary than the Internet. He left his job and jumped head-first into Bitcoin. In 2014, he wrote, “Mastering Bitcoin” which is considered to be the best technical guide ever written about the technology.

He has a gift of giving powerful talks by combining economics, psychology, technology, and game theory with current events, personal anecdote, and historical precedent. He has a gift of understanding complex technical nuances and to explain them in extremely simple and easy-to-understand terms.

Handle: https://twitter.com/aantonop


Quotes: 

“Bitcoin will remain, in my opinion, a relentless anomaly that refuses to go away – a black swan that cannot be ignored or extinguished.”

“Bitcoin has a tremendous ‘network effect’, in my opinion, which may give it an insurmountable early-mover advantage. In technology it is often not the best technology that “wins”, but the one that achieves broad enough adoption and recognition early enough. Good enough beats best if deployed broadly.”

Recommended Interview:

Vitalik Buterin

 

Up next we have Vitalik Buterin.

The co-founder of Ethereum is one of the most important people in the current cryptospace. Unlike Satoshi Nakamoto, Buterin is extremely well-known in the crypto community and has become something like a poster boy for blockchain advocacy.

Education

Buterin is a Russian-Canadian born in Kolomna, Moscow Oblast, Russia, to Dmitry Buterin, a computer scientist, and Natalia Ameline. Around 2000, the family moved to Canada for better employment opportunities. Endowed with serious prodigal talent, Buterin was placed into a class for gifted children when he was in grade 3.

He attended the Abelard School, a private high school in Toronto, for four years, which seemed to have made a huge impact on him. Speaking about his time in Abelard he said, “proved to be among the most interesting and productive years of my life; the closer connection between students and teachers the level of depth at which the material was taught, made me want to learn and to focus on learning as my primary goal”.

March Towards Ethereum

There were two important events that happened which spurned Buterin towards creating Ethereum.

Around 2007, Buterin was deeply entrenched in the popular online roleplaying game World of Warcraft. He spent three years from 2007-2010 judiciously collecting weapons and playing the game’s storyline. However, it all changed in 2010 when the company behind the game, Blizzard, abruptly decided to remove the damage component of the Siphon Life spell of his warlock game character. This affected him on a deep level and it made him understand the problems behind centralized systems.

The second event happened when his dad introduced him to Bitcoin when he was 17 years old. Initially, it didn’t appeal to him that much. He thought that a currency system without any intrinsic value is doomed to fail. However, over time he became more curious and was interested in acquiring some Bitcoins of his own. The problem was that he didn’t have the financial means to buy Bitcoin, and nor did he have powerful enough systems to mine the coins.

So, he started going through forums, looking for people who would pay for work in Bitcoin. He started writing some articles which quickly gained recognition in the community. He came in contact with Mihai Alisie and started the Bitcoin Magazine.

He saw the true potential of the Blockchain Technology and knew that it could support more than just a payment processing system. Unfortunately, none of the core members of the Bitcoin community were willing to listen to him since it would mean making changes to the base code.

This is when Buterin decided to work on building his own blockchain, which will be eventually named Ethereum. In the meantime, he started attending the University of Waterloo, however, he dropped out in 2014 after receiving the Thiel Fellowship in the amount of $100,000. He went into working on Ethereum full-time. They had their ICO which was widely successful and raised $18.4 million (which is a fraction of what most ICO raise nowadays).

Since then, Ethereum has grown from strength to strength, becoming one of the most exciting projects in the world. Buterin has also been named in the Forbes 30 under 30 and Forbes 40 under 40 lists.

Handle: https://twitter.com/vitalikbuterin/

Quotes:

“I generally support just about every secession attempt that comes along. If, in the future, there is that kind of a dispute in Ethereum, I’d definitely be quite happy to see Ethereum A go in one direction and Ethereum B go the other.”

“Whereas most technologies tend to automate workers on the periphery doing menial tasks, blockchains automate away the center. Instead of putting the taxi driver out of a job, blockchain puts Uber out of a job and lets the taxi drivers work with the customer directly.”

Recommended Interview:

Dan Larimer

Up next we have one of the rockstars of the crypto world, Dan Larimer. With an estimated net worth of $700 million, Larimer is one of the most influential and innovative members of the cryptospace. To say that his resume is impressive is like saying that Michael Jordan is ok at basketball. This is the man who created BitShares, Steemit, and EOS.

Early Life

Larimer was born in Colorado but grew up in Virginia and Florida. He learned to code from his father Stan Larimer. In 2003 he graduated from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University with a Bachelor of Engineering degree.

Getting into Blockchain

In 2009 he started to actively dabble in cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. His passion is a direct result of his disillusionment with the government calling them an “organized crime syndicate.” He believed that cryptocurrencies will develop a free market alternative to the centralized government control.

He wanted to know the actual nature of the government and concluded that money was the root of government power.” He knew that the only way to take the power back from the government is ceate something that will replace fiat currency. This currency should be something that is outside of centralized control. In decentralized cryptocurrency, he found the solution to this problem. The moment he came across the Bitcoin whitepaper, he became instantly hooked and began to actively promote it.

BitShares

Larimer’s first blockchain platform was called BitShares. It was launched in 2014 as a decentralized exchange platform. Larimer created this platform after he was uncomfortable with the “incessant shutdowns” of centralized exchanges. In order to make his platform faster and more efficient, he created a new form of consensus mechanism called Delegated Proof of Stake (DPoS).

In 2014, when the price of Bitcoin crashed, the value of proceeds raised from BitShares dipped by a big amount. This is the reason why he came up with the idea of Bitshares 2.0 which uses the Graphene blockchain. However, despite the improvements, the project wasn’t a success and Larimer eventually left.

STEEM

Despite the problems of BitShares 2.0, Larimer believed in the potential of Graphene-based applications. IN 2016, along with Ned Scott, he found STEEM. They secured $220,000 in private funding and operations soon began on the STEEM cryptocurrency.

An interesting thing to note about the STEEM project was that early adopters did not incur any cost for participating in the network. However, in 2017, he reportedly fell out with other STEEM members and left the project. IN April 2017, all the team members and Larimer released a joint statement refuting the falling out but confirming the split which they described as “amicable.”

EOS

EOS is aiming to be a decentralized operating system which can support industrial-scale decentralized applications. EOS is Larimer’s pet project and is handled by the Block.one company. EOS utilizes parallel processing to ensure Horizontal scalability and there are no transaction fees. EOS had a year-long ICO and raised a record $4 billion.

Handle: https://twitter.com/bytemaster7

Quotes:

“Efficient inter blockchain communication is key to scalability and protocol evolution. One token can easily migrate from one generation chain to the next as we learn how to scale. Current and future generations can run side by side”

“Consensus is the art of balancing the separation of ownership and control. Democracy allows minority owners to control the majority and corporate governance allows 51% owners to control the minority. The solution is to require both methods to agree.”

Recommended Interview:

Charlie Lee

No list about influential crypto people can be complete without mentioning Litecoin founder, Charlie Lee. He was born in the Ivory Coast where his father, an MIT graduate, was one of the first people of Chinese origins to settle in Africa. Following his father’s footsteps, Charlie also attended MIT wherein he received a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. He later went on to receive his Master’s degree in Computer Science from MIT as well.

Post Graduation

After his graduation, he worked for several top-tier tech companies like Microsoft and Goodly. During his tenure in Google, he came across Bitcoin while reading up on an article on the Silk Road. He became enamored by the potential of the coin from an Economic point of view. Soon after he began mining Bitcoins.

He eventually left Google in 2013 to join Coinbase where he served as the Director of Engineering. During his time in the office, Coinbase rose to become of the most popular cryptocurrency exchange platforms in the world.

Fairbix

Lee’s first major foray into the world of cryptocurrency was Fairbix which was launched in September 2011. This was incidentally his first use of a Scrypt-based Proof-of-Work hashing algorithm which he would use later on in Litecoin. Fairbix was a clone of Tenebrix.

Fairbix was plagued by multiple problems:

  • The developers had already pre-mined 7 million coins for themselves
  • A software bug made it vulnerable to the 51% attack from the very beginning

Because of these, Fairbix failed from the very beginning.

Litecoin

However, the failure didn’t affect Lee’s resolve. He learned valuable lessons and started working on his next project right away. The name of the project, Litecoin.

While Bitcoin was seen as “gold” and a store of value for long-term purposes, Litecoin was seen as the “silver” and a means of the transaction for cheaper and everyday purposes. So, on October 7, 2011, litecoin was released via an open-source client on GitHub. The Litecoin Network went live on October 13, 2011. It is basically a fork of the Bitcoin Core client.

While Litecoin is basically a clone of Bitcoin, Lee made changes to the hashing algorithm, block transaction speed, as well as the GUI. Lee also upped the maximum supply cap from 21 million to 84 million.

As of writing, Litecoin has a market cap of $3.8 billion.

Handle: https://twitter.com/SatoshiLite/

Quotes:

“People think you have to buy one whole Bitcoin or one whole Litecoin. People didn’t realize you can actually buy a small portion of a Bitcoin.”

“I believe that cryptocurrency will take over fiat currency and become the reserve currency.”

Recommended Interview:

Changpeng “CZ” Zhao

Changpeng Zhao or “CZ” as he is more popularly known, is the CEO of Binance and one of the most influential and wealthiest figures in the cryptospace. Forbes listed the 41-year old’s personal fortune to be somewhere around a billion dollars. CZ’s story is probably one of the most inspiring one out there and a testament to what one can do with sheer hard work. In a period of 6 months, this man went from establishing Binance to becoming a billionaire.

Early Life and Education

CZ was born in Jiangsu, China to a family of educators. In the late 80’s his family decided to move abroad to Vancouver, Canada after they were temporarily exiled from China. In order to help out his family, CZ started flipping burgers at McDonald’s and working an overnight shift at a local gas station.

He then attended McGill University in Montreal where he studied Computer Science but he also showed an uncanny ability in futures trading and Stock Market.

Post Graduation

After finishing up college he traveled the world for a bit, spending some time in Tokyo and New York. After that, he spent a few years sharpening his skills in trading software before ending up at Bloomberg in NYC. Over there he was in charge of designing and developing software solutions for future trading. His growth was so exponential that by the end of his tenure he was responsible for managing teams in different locations such as Tokyo, London, and New Jersey becoming the Bloomberg Tradebook Futures Development Chief. He left the company after 4 years.

After leaving Bloomberg, he found his first company, Fusions Systems. He would give 8 years of his life to Fusion creating a number of rapid high-frequency trading systems that became popular with many brokers.

Blockchain.info

CZ’s first foray into the blockchain world was working for Blockchain.info aka Blockchain. Over there he worked with some of the most well-known names in the space, Roger Ver and Ben Reeves. CZ played a vital role in transforming the company to become one of the most important Bitcoin storage services in the world. He improved the company’s credibility in Asia and developed a lot of products for the company’s API. He also took part in the acquisition of ZeroBlock, an information service provider.

He left after a year to join OkCoin. CZ said that his departure was amicable and he was still in friendly terms with the Blockchain team.

OKCoin

CZ joined OKCoin, the largest Bitcoin exchange in China at that time, as the Chief Technical Officer in 2014. OKCoin specialized in fiat-to-crypto asset trading. Unfortunately, the working relationship ended in less than a year with the company owing CZ around $10,000. The split was very inamicable and according to CZ, there was a lot of problem with OKCoin, chief among them being a dispute between the company and Roger Ver.

Binance

After leaving OKCoin, CZ was keen on starting his own cryptocurrency company. Taking advantage of the 2017 ICO boom, he launched the Binance ICO which would end up raising $15 million. Leveraging all the experience that he had garnered over the years, CZ managed to create a cryptocurrency exchange platform which had inbuilt scalability features right from the beginning of the project. Currently, the platform has the capability of doing 1.4 million-transactions-per-second which has attracted 6 million users

Binance has moved countries 3 times in order to stay ahead of regulatory changes. They currently support 120 coins and offers 240 trading pairs.

Handle: https://twitter.com/cz_binance

Quotes: 

“(on Warren Buffet)I think he knows stock investment and equity investment very well, but I do not think he understands cryptocurrency at all.”

“We try very hard to not be number one all the time”

Recommended Interview:

Charles Hoskinson

Charles Hoskinson is a Colorado-based technology entrepreneur and mathematician. He attended the Metropolitan State University of Denver and the University of Colorado at Boulder to study Number Theory and Mathematical Logic. Many people have called him the crypto MVP of 2017. Not only is he one of the founders or Ethereum, he is also the founder of Cardano.

Ethereum

Around April 2013, Hoskinson quit his consulting job to start an online Bitcoin education school called the “Bitcoin Education Project.” His family and friends were not completely convinced as he recalls, “my parents thought I was crazy. Everybody thought I was crazy. But I said, No, no, I got it all figured out.” Directly as a result of this, he ended up meeting Vitalik Buterin and went on to become one of the 8 original co-founders of Ethereum.

However, things got really rocky pretty soon. Hoskinson and Buterin fell our on how to handle and structure the project. While Hoskinson wanted to accept venture capital and create a for-profit entity with a more formal governing structure. Buterin wanted to keep Ethereum a nonprofit organization with an open-source, decentralized governance. Finally, Hoskinson left Ethereum in June 2014.

IOHK and Cardano

 

 

Hoskinson took a 6-month sabbatical during which he flirted with the idea of going back to mathematics. It was during this time that he was approached by Jeremy Wood, an ex Ethereum colleague, and they decided to form IOHK, a blockchain engineering company, who will go on to create Cardano.

Similar to Ethereum, Cardano is a smart contract platform however, Cardano offers scalability and security through layered architecture. Cardano’s approach is unique in the space itself since it is built on scientific philosophy and peer-reviewed academic research. Plus, another interesting thing to keep in mind is that Cardano uses functional programming languages (Haskell for code and Plutus for smart contracts).

Cardano currently has a market cap of $3 billion. Forbes puts Hoskinson’s personal net worth around $600 million.

Handle: https://twitter.com/iohk_charles/

Quotes: 

“People say ICOs are great for Ethereum because, look at the price, but it’s a ticking time-bomb. There’s an over-tokenization of things as companies are issuing tokens when the same tasks can be achieved with existing blockchains. People are blinded by fast and easy money.”

“What’s often missed by the cryptocurrency is going to die broken record media is that after the next wave of regulation, wall street is showing up to the party with all their locked up capital. That’s tens of trillions of dollars entering the space eventually. Future is bright!”

Recommended Interview:

Roger Ver

Roger Ver is one of the earliest Bitcoin adopters and is so popular in the community that he has been coined “Bitcoin Jesus.” He has very strong views on economic freedom, libertarianism, and voluntaryism which has made him quite the controversial figure in the market. He was one of the key figures in the establishment of the Bitcoin Foundation. Nowadays he is one of the most vocal proponents of Bitcoin Cash.

Early Life

At 16 he fell out with his father over a car. He then went onto attend community college in Cupertino, California called De Anza College for a year before dropping out. Ver then decided to pursue a number of small business interests after dropping out.

Ver went into politics around 2000 as a Libertarian candidate for the California State Assembly. Ver based his campaign on issues like taxation, the war on drugs and the operations of the ATF who he described as being “thugs and murderers.”

Imprisonment

in 2002 Ver was arrested for selling an explosive item called the “Pest Control Report 2000″, a firecracker for scaring birds away, without a license. He pleaded guilty to his charges even though he complained that he was the only one being prosecuted while the manufacturer and sellers were let off with only a warning. While in prison, he taught himself Japanese, and on the last day of probation, he moved to Japan.

Getting Into Blockchain

In late February 2011, Ver came across Bitcoin while listening to a podcast. He was so intrigued, that he spent the next few days locked up in his San Jose apartment reading up all he could about Bitcoin and the blockchain technology.

Bitinstant

In 2011, Ver made his first Bitcoin investment of about $25,000 in Charlie Shrem’s Bitinstant. The investment helped Shrem to expand his operations. In the same time, Bitcoin’s price went up from $2 to $30 making Ver a millionaire.

Investment in More Start-Ups

Since then, Ver started investing more and more into various blockchain start-ups. He invested in projects like Ripple, Kraken, Bitpay, and Blockchain.info. He founded MemoryDealers.com which was one of the first websites to allow Bitcoin as a means of payment for the items on the store. The store was called bitcoinstore.com.

Bitcoin.com

In April of 2014, Ver bought “Bitcoin.com” from Blockchain.info. The domain name is registered under the Saint Bitts LLC in Saint Kitts and Nevis (Ver has a Saint Kitts and Nevis citizenship). The platform provides multiple services like trading and wallet services for both Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash. Along with that, it also has an online casino, store and web portal with a number of regularly updated blog posts and news articles.

Bitcoin Cash

Being a critic of the block size limit, Roger was also one of the earliest supporters of Bitcoin Cash. He believes that it is the perfect solution to Bitcoin’s throughput and scalability problems. He has always expressed his annoyance with the congested nature of the Bitcoin network, which is why he believes that Bitcoin Cash is going to be bigger than Bitcoin.

Handle: https://twitter.com/rogerkver/

Quotes:

“Bitcoin never sleeps. We need to move quickly and grow quickly and do everything sooner rather than later.”

“The economic path that bitcoin cash is on is the one that led to bitcoin’s original success. I’m incredibly bullish on bitcoin cash for the exact same reasons I was bullish on bitcoin back in 2011.”

Recommended Interview:

Jackson Palmer

Jackson Palmer has one of the most interesting stories in the cryptospace. All the people we have mentioned so far, are here because they have a clear vision of creating a successful blockchain business and/or asset. Palmer, on the other hand, created his project for a laugh. His project, dogecoin, was basically a spoof of other cryptocurrencies. That “joke” has a market cap of $280 million.

Early Life

The Australian born Palmer has always shown an affinity for marketing and coding. He attended the University of Newcastle in Sydney/ He graduated in 2008 with a Bachelor of Management degree in Marketing.

Adobe

Palmer has worked in Adobe through most of his professional career. He was the Product Marketing Specialist for 3 years before being promoted to the post of Associate Product Marketing Manager, a position he held for 18 months. During this time, he was in charge of managing several marketing activities for the Adobe Business Catalyst platform.

16 months later he was promoted again to the Senior Manager, Usage Analytics and then later to Group Product Manager for the Creative Cloud Growth department at Adobe.

Dogecoin

In 2013, the “doge” meme became extremely popular throughout the internet. The doge meme was basically the face of a Shiba Inu with funny captions written all over it. The captions were in the Comic Sans fonts and had phrases like “very wow”, “much sunshine” etc. Palmer came across this meme and then posted a tweet with the word “Dogecoin” in it and it became viral.

After the tweet went viral, the idea of creating an actual Dogecoin started floating around. A substantial community of future Dogecoin adopters appeared and they would constantly goad Palmer to create an actual Dogecoin. He finally relented, bought the Dogecoin.com domain and created a splash screen with the coin logo and the signature Comic Sans font of the original doge meme. Billy Markus came across the site and reached out to Palmer about working on the coin.

Dogecoin is a clone of the Luckycoin cryptocurrency, which in turn is a copy of Litecoin. Markus did make a few changes to the operational and design template of Luckycoin. He changed the block reward from random to static. Dogecoin uses a Scrypt-based mining algorithm which makes it a lot less ASIC-friendly.

The coin was finally launched in December 2013 and achieved quite a lot of successes. Dogecoin has been used frequently for microtransactions like tipping. The dogecoin subreddit was also able to raise $30,000 to send the Jamaican bobsled team to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Palmer eventually left Dogecoin in 2015.

Youtube Videos

He also has a Youtube channel wherein he teaches cryptocurrency basics.

Handle: https://twitter.com/ummjackson

Quotes:

“Brashly changing [proof-of-work] algorithms, merged mining and all other solutions I’ve been presented with are simply band-aids to the fact that a currency requires active use and demand to succeed.”

“Hot take: Starbucks gift cards are more decentralized and offer better privacy protection than their cryptocurrency implementation. Let that sink in for a minute.”

Recommended Interview:

Evan Duffield

Evan Duffield is well-respected in the community for being the creator of Dash. Dash is one of the top 10 cryptocurrencies in the world, market cap-wise, with a valuation of $1.45 billion. One thing that should be noted about Duffield is that he is an extremely visible player in the market. Quite like Buterin, he is regularly available for interview, conferences, and seminars.

Early Life

Duffield was born in 1980 in a small town in Arizona. He grew interested in computer programming by the time he was 15. He started taking more interest when began to get jobs while still in high school.

Before Blockchain

He began his career in the tech industry when he was 20 years old. He worked as a software developer for tech firms like Warped AI, iAcquire, Wells Fargo, and Verizon Wireless. Later on, he discovered that he had a talent for data analysis. He would set up large-scale computers to help analyze an immense amount of data. He’d also study machine learning, develop algorithms capable of performing complex data analysis tasks. His expertise in complex AI protocols helped him design protocols for firms to handle big data and offer more robust Social Media services.

Coming Across Bitcoin

When Duffield first came across Bitcoin, he wasn’t immediately excited about it. Months later when he came across it again, he started paying more attention. He read Satoshi Nakamoto’s Bitcoin whitepaper and it impacted him on a profound level. According to him, the potential of Bitcoin and the blockchain technology was “earth-shattering.”

However, he found a huge problem.

He knew that Bitcoin had a scalability and fungibility problem. Unless they’re fixed, Bitcoin won’t see mainstream adoption. He had numerous ideas on how to make Bitcoin function better but the Bitcoin core members would never allow him to do that since that would mean changing the core’s code. This is why, he decided to use the Core code and make his own cryptocurrency on January 18, 2014.

Dash

The coin that Duffield created was called XCoin with the currency designation “XCO.” However, a fault in the Litecoin source code from which XCoin was forked resulted in nearly 2 million coins, which was 10% of the total cap, getting mined. This glitch was later resolved.

A week after the launch, XCoin was renamed Darkcoin, making it attract unneeded negative publicity. In fact, Wired UK once infamously labeled Darkcoin as being “Bitcoin’s nefarious cousin.” Its name and its privacy combined to give it a not so reputable image.

In March 2015, Darkcoin changed its name to Dash which is a portmanteau of “Digital Cash”. Dash has a unique self-governing system which is why it is often called the first successful Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO). After its resounding success, the Dash DAO launched two more branched:

  • Dash Force
  • Dash Labs

In 2017, Duffield decided to step down as the CEO of the Dash Core project to fully focus on Dash Labs. Dash Labs aims to promote the creation of open-source projects so as to prevent the centralization of blockchain technology development. He was succeeded by the Dash Director of Finance, Ryan Taylor. Duffield is still an advisor at Dash Core.

Handle: https://twitter.com/eduffield44

Quotes:

“While doing research for Evolution, it has become clear that the only way to securely implement quorum-style technology is to utilize our hybrid proof-of-work (mining) and proof-of-service (masternodes) model. Competitors who have switched to proof-of-stake should consider switching back to proof-of-work to harden their hashes if they wish to use quorum technology. Without proof-of-work providing an additional layer of security, such systems are vulnerable to several different forms of attack.”

“We are building a world-wide financial network capable of putting every individual’s money under his/her direct control without intermediaries. We are building Dash Evolution because we believe it’s needed and offers value to society. We are not building it to get rich.”

Recommended Interview:

Jed McCaleb

Albeit polarizing, Jed McCaleb is still regarded in the community as a genius of cryptography, P2P protocols, and pretty much anything that is related to the blockchain architecture. Such is his expertise that he has not created one by two cryptocurrencies (and smart contract platforms) which are rated extremely highly, Ripple and Stellar. McCaleb likes to retreat to Costa Rica and Brazil every now and then to surf.

Early Life

McCaleb was born in 1975 and he spent his early years in Little Rock, Arkansas. He got into UC Berkeley before he dropped out to form eDonkey, a Napster-like file sharing service. In 2008 he met his future wife MiSoon Burzlaff. The couple has two children (one son and one daughter) and lives in upstate Patterson.

McCaleb, through the course of his career, has drawn comparisons to the great Alan Turing, the father of modern computing and artificial intelligence.

eDonkey

McCaleb co-founded eDonkey in the year 2000 shortly after dropping out of UC Berkeley. Along with OkCupid founder Sam Yagan, he developed the eDonkey Network, also called the eDonkey2000 network or eD2K for short. It was a P2P file sharing network that allowed the transference of large files among users. There was no need for a centralized server since the entire network was decentralized.

eD2K went on to become the world’s #1 file-sharing network by 2004. They had as many as 200 servers and were handling nearly 2 billion files shared among 3 million users. McCaleb and Yagan eventually had to leave when the RIAA sued MetaMachine Inc., the company responsible for developing and running the eD2K client program, for about $30 million for the distribution of the software program and subsequent copyright infringement. McCaleb and Yagan both escaped legal actions.

Mt. Gox

Some time back, McCaleb created a domain called “Mt. Gox” which stands for Magic: The Gathering Online Exchange, which was a fantasy-card trading exchange service. He soon became intrigued with blockchains and cryptocurrency and realized that the economic stability was a big issue. Cryptocurrencies needed an exchange platform in order to survive. This is why he decided to rewrite the domain code for Mt. Gox and turn it into a bitcoin exchange service in July 2010.

Mt. Gox became the largest bitcoin intermediary in the world in no time. At one time they were handling 70% of the world’s bitcoin exchanges. However, once McCaleb sold the platform to Max Karpeles, things started going downhill. In 2014, Mt. Gox was hacked for 850,000 Bitcoin which was valued at $450 million.

Ripple

McCaleb soon became more and more engrossed in Bitcoin and looked at different ways that it can improve from an operational perspective. So, along with David Schwartz, Jesse Powell, and Arthur Britto, McCaleb wanted to create a cryptocurrency system which was immune to the flaws of Bitcoin. The created a new consensus protocol called OpenCoin Inc. Jesse Powell also invested $100,000 and the development began in full force.

It was only when Chris Larsen joined the team as the CEO, that they finally gained the business acumen they sorely needed. OpenCoin soon became Ripple under the aegis of the Ripple Labs. Larsen’s presence made Ripple gain exposure among mainstream VPs and the project was able to establish some extremely valuable relationships with various banks.

However, McCaleb’s relationship with the other Ripple team members was beginning to strain pretty significantly. Eventually, McCaleb left Ripple in 2013.

Stellar

McCaleb took a year off after leaving Ripple and then came right back into the limelight with his next project, and Ripple competitor, Stellar. Stellar is a decentralized blockchain money exchange protocol which focuses on B2C transactions as opposed to B2B (which is Ripple’s focus). Also, 95% of the XLM (stellar tokens) supply will be distributed among the people while the Ripple co-founders own ~60% of the total XRP (Ripple token) supply.

Handle: https://twitter.com/jedmccaleb

Quotes:

“There are a lot of countries around the world that are looking to tokenize their fiat. That serves as the ultimate anchor – who is actually issuing the token onto the network”

“In the next 10 years, I wouldn’t be surprised if all equity isn’t tokenized on some blockchain somewhere.”

Recommended Interview:

Chris Larsen

At one point in January 2018, Chris Larsen, the co-founder and former CEO of Ripple’s net worth ballooned upto a staggering $59 billion. That would have put him somewhere between the 5th and 15th on the Richest Man in the World list. Larsen has more than 20 years of experience in the technology industry as an Angel Investor and a Business Executive. Apart from being in executive positions for several enterprises throughout his career, he is also an advisor/board member for a number of companies like Qifang, Betable, and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).

Early Life & Education

Larsen was born in 1960 in the San Francisco, California. His father was an Aeromechanical technician for United Airlines at the San Francisco International Airport and his mother was a freelance illustrator. In 1984, Larsen graduated with a degree in International Business and Accounting from the San Francisco State University. He then attended the Stanford Graduate School of Business for his post-graduate studies. He graduated with an MBA in 1991.

E-Loan

Larsen became close with Janina Pawlowski when they were working together in a Palo Alto-based mortgage lending firm in the early 90’s. They soon left their jobs and co-founded E-Loan in 1996. They raised $450,000 and opened up an office in Dublin, California. At that time, the idea of a service which enabled borrowers to access loans directly without going through brokers was unheard of. As such, they were one of the first online mortgage lending service providers in America. The idea was to disrupt the mortgage lending industry by using the power of the internet and to remove the high fees.

E-Loan was negotiating with Intuit for a $130 million buyout, but both Larsen and Pawlowski weren’t so keen since the takeover will basically reduce both of them to figureheads. That was Yahoo made a counteroffer, which was a lot less than Intuit’s but Larsen and Pawlowski still agreed to it because they would retain control on the product.

That was when business really kicked up. E-Loan soon had an estimated market value of $1 billion. Larsen was both the Chairman and CEO till 2005. After that, he stepped down as the CEO and remained Chairman until the company was acquired by Banco Popular.

OpenCoin

So, after working in the mortgage lending market, Larsen decided to improve another market which was getting ruined by high transaction fees…payment processors. The fees were so ridiculous that it was becoming increasingly unreasonable for ordinary participants and small-scale enterprises.

In September of 2012, Larsen joined OpenCoin as the CEO and began developing the Ripple payment protocol. A payment platform that would enable near-instant transfers with little to no transaction fees.

Ripple

Ripple’s XRP Ledger is a real-time gross settlement system (RTGS), currency exchange and remittance network created by Ripple Labs Inc., a US-based technology company. It has a distributed open source internet protocol, consensus ledger and the native token XRP.

Companies like UniCredit, UBS, and Santander are already using Ripple software like xCurrent or xRapid, and XRP Ledger. The Ripple network has been a hit with banks and the American Banker even said, “from banks’ perspective, distributed ledgers like the Ripple system have a number of advantages over cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.”

XRP is the third largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization.

Others

Larsen was honored by his alma mater, San Francisco State as the Alum of the Year in 2004. He also runs a scholarship fund there. He is also a firm believer in financial privacy and famously supported a bill in 2003 that protected consumer privacy rights in the State of California.

Handle: https://twitter.com/chrislarsensf

Quotes:

“The beauty of the Ripple system is that it lives inside the internet. To shut it down you have to shut down the internet itself. That’s why it’s so transformational.”

“The goal isn’t just to rewire finance. It’s to flatten finance.”

Recommended Interview:

Nick Szabo

If you are new to cryptocurrency then chances are that you have not even heard of Nick Szabo’s name. However, the fact is, if you were to create a Mount Rushmore of cryptocurrency greats, then you simply can’t omit his name from the list. The man is a living legend and has pretty much created the basis of a multi-billion dollar industry (ICOs).

Early Life

Szabo holds a degree in computer science from the University of Washington. He earned a JD from George Washington University Law School and he holds an honorary professorship at the Universidad Francisco Marroquín.

Szabo conceptualized two things which has pretty much created the base for modern cryptocurrencies.

  • Bit Gold
  • Smart Contracts

Bit Gold

The first landmark paper that Szabo worked on was Bit Gold. Many believe that this paper was the precursor of Bitcoin and a prime reason why many in the community expect him to be Satoshi Nakamoto. In the paper, Szabo points out the third-party dependency of modern financial systems and identifies them to be security plot holes. He says, “It would be very nice if there were a protocol whereby unforgeable costly bits could be created online with minimal dependence on trusted third parties, and then securely stored, transferred, and assayed with similar minimal trust. Bit gold.”

Because of the dependency, the protocol needs to work around and sometimes, even patch up, the security problems that these third parties create which can be extremely expensive, plus the name itself suggests and there has to be trust involved in the whole operation.

As you can see, he pretty much laid out the very definition of cryptocurrencies. This was what laid down the blueprint for bitcoin, and subsequently, all cryptocurrencies.

Smart Contracts

We are pretty sure that you are well aware of the crazy world of ICOs. It is a billion dollar industry and it has somehow managed to be in the news, either for good reasons or for bad. We are not going to go into the details since that’s a whole other topic altogether. ICOs wouldn’t have been possible without another one of Szabo’s inventions, smart contracts. The term “smart contract” was coined by Szabo himself in his article “Smart Contracts: Building Blocks for Digital Free Markets” which was published way back in 1996.

Contracts are an integral part of the fabric that makes modern society. A smart contract is an idea of establishing an agreement between two complete strangers in a trustless way and to make sure that the contract is honored via self-executing code. Two people can get into a contractual agreement without the need for a third party.

Smart contracts are, in every sense, a natural evolution of contracts into the digital age.

One of the things that became famous is his vending machine analogy. Szabo describes vending machines as a perfect form of smart contracts. The vending machine, quite like a smart contract, only executes the next step if and only if the previous step is correctly executed.

  • First, you need to insert some money into the vending machine. Similarly, in a smart contract, you must lock some tokens to kickstart the process.
  • After that, you need to choose what product you want.
  • Finally, the machine gives you your product.

Throughout the entire process, you are not dealing with any third-party like a shopkeeper.

These two research paper by Szabo is pretty much the backbone of the current cryptoverse. The man is an absolute titan of this space.

Handle: https://twitter.com/NickSzabo4

Quotes:

“Giant companies are the security holes of capitalism. The more centralized industries get, the more they attract socialist political activists. The Bolshevik Revolution was a violent version of this vs. railroad stations, newspapers, etc. Now, activism is focused on tech giants.”

“Instead of the cashier and ticket-ripper of the movie theater, the blockchain consists of thousands of computers that can process digital tickets, money and many other fiduciary objects in digital form. Think of thousands of robots wearing green eyeshades, all checking each other’s accounting. ”

Recommended Interview:

Dr. Gavin Wood

Dr. Gavin Wood is one of the founding fathers of Etherum. He served as the CTO of the Ethereum Foundation for its first 2 years. Ever since he has gone on to find and establish Parity Technologies and Polkadot. He is particularly revered for his time in Ethereum wherein created much of the technological infrastructure.

Education

Wood studied in the Lancaster Royal Grammar School in the United Kingdom. He has degrees in engineering, computer science, and Music Visualisation for Human-Computer Interfacing from the University of York.

Ethereum

Wood is the co-designer of the Ethereum Protocol, author of its formal specification, and is the creator and author of the first functional Ethereum implementation. His most important work was designing and developing the Solidity language, aka the language used to create smart contracts.

On solidity he said:

“It [Solidity] was meant to be a sophisticated tool for developing contracts that could ultimately give both developers and users good information on what the code did. To help this along, I devised NatSpec, a contract-friendly documentation format, and made that a first-class citizen in Solidity. I also proposed a formal proofing language subset (not yet implemented) in order to maximize the kinds of correctness guarantees that could be made.

I introduced events as a first-class citizen into the Solidity language in order to provide a nice abstraction for LOGs similar in form to function calls. The inspiration for that came from the Qt meta-object system’s “signals”.

One later feature that Christian R. and I figured out together was function modifiers; that allows attributes placed as part of a function signature to make some modifications to the apparent function body. Being a very declarative means of expression, it’s an idiom that falls nicely into the contract-oriented programming space.”

He also designed and created the Whisper protocol. On top of all that, he has represented Ethereum throughout the years in various conferences and talks.

Parity

Wood then went out and created Parity Technologies Ltd. Parity’s mission is to “enable businesses and organizations to capitalize on blockchain technology and benefit from the new opportunities it presents.” They are developing cutting-edge software solutions for enterprises to use the full potential of the decentralized technology.

Polkadot

Polkadot, according to their website, is a heterogeneous multi‑chain technology. It consists of many parachains with potentially differing characteristics which can make it easier to achieve anonymity or formal verification. It will enable interoperability between public and private blockchains. The main idea is to make things easy for companies with private blockchains to interact with the public blockchains.

According to them, ” We envision a Web where our identity and our data is our own – safely secured from any central authority. Our aim is to reshape the existing internet structure into what we are calling Web3: a completely decentralized web.”

Handle: https://twitter.com/gavofyork

Quotes:

“In the future, the method of writing and interpreting new laws will be much more akin to software development than what we would normally consider legal literature

“What blockchain gives us is an extra tool in how to manage governance

Recommended Interview:

Jihan Wu

Jihan Wu is one of the most influential and controversial figures in Bitcoin today. He is the co-founder of Bitmain, which is known for creating ASICs for various cryptocurrencies, especially, Bitcoin. Bitmain also maintains AntPool, a Bitcoin mining pool which owns 13% of the entire network hashrate. He was also very open for his support of Bitcoin Unlimited.

Prior to founding Bitmain, Wu was a financial analyst and private equity fund manager. In 2018 he was ranked number 3 in Fortune’s The Ledger 40 under 40 for transforming business at the leading edge of finance and technology. Wu lives in China and has an economics degree from Peking University.

Bitmain

Wu founded Bitmain in 2013, along with Micree Zhan, to develop the ASIC miners. Before Bitmain, Zhan was running DivaIP, a startup that allowed users to stream television to a computer screen via a set-top box. He met Wu while he was trying to raise money for the startup.

Wu came across Bitcoin and became the first person to translate the Bitcoin whitepaper into Chinese. He then approached Zhan to help create new ASIC chips for mining Bitcoin and that was when the idea of Bitmain came about.

The first ASIC they made was the Antminer S1 which became stronger in proportion to Bitcoin’s “difficulty level.” In May 2016, Antminer S9 was released. S9 was the world’s first consumer-grade bitcoin and most power-efficient miner based on a 16nm process ASIC chip.

Bitmain also owns Antminer, Antpool, and Hashnest. Bitmain is headquartered in Beijing, with offices in Amsterdam, Hong Kong, Tel Aviv, Qingdao, Chengdu, and Shenzhen.

Bitmain has been incredibly profitable over the years. In 2017, the company generated $3-4 billion while in 2018, Bitmain is on track to generate $10 billion. Having said that, the company has garnered a lot of criticism over the years because of their domination over crypto mining which goes against the principle of decentralization.

Along with this, Bitmain did the following as well:

  • May 2016: Making a seed level investment in Wings development. Wings is a platform which aims to bring DAO creation and management to the mainstream by making it as user-friendly as possible with a simple UI interface.
  • May 2017: BitPay and Bitmain agreed on a development agreement to create advanced open source software for the miners, mining pools and full node operators that maintain and secure Blockchain transactions.
  • September 2017: Bitmain acquired $50 million in funding from Sequoia and IDG so that they can create even more innovative chips for artificial intelligence.
  • June 2018: Jihan Wu announced to Bloomberg that Bitmain is going to do an IPO to produce capital to expand its producing hardware.

Bitcoin Unlimited

 

Bitcoin has a limited space of 1MB per block and that has caused immense scalability issues. While Bitcoin Core has gone the Segwit route to issue the scalability issue, the Bitcoin Unlimited side believes that the only way one can scale up is by removing the block size limit. Their idea is to advocate complete freedom and flexibility by not having a set limit. The limit will be whatever the majority of the network feels it will be.

Bitcoin Unlimited detractors say that:

  • Increasing the block size can lead to a hard fork which would split the network.
  • If the miners opt for bigger blocks it will be increasingly difficult for miners with limited resources to mine.
  • Since only a few miners will be able to mine the blocks, it will cause increased centralization.

Wu is a huge supporter of Bitcoin Unlimited.

Handle: https://twitter.com/jihanwu

Quotes:

“It is known that GPU is very unstable and they need significant attention to maintain. So industrial miners will have advantage. ASIC rig is stable and home miners do not have to use working hours to monitor the rig and it is more fair when they compete with industrial miners.”

“BCH community needs to learn a hard lesson. Be friends with other competing coins, learn from them, and make BCH better. Don’t play hatred, don’t wish competing coins ill. Just wish and try to make BCH better.”

Recommended Talk:

Barry Silbert

Barry Silbert is the Founder and CEO of Digital Currency Group (DCG). DCG has been 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.

Lawrence Lenihan, CEO of FirstMark Capital said about Silbert, “His ability to listen, learn and have the conviction to act—I’ve never seen all those done as well.”

Early Life

From an early age, Silbert has shown an entrepreneurial spirit. When he was 13 he made a business out of trading baseball cards. He spent his bar mitzvah money on stocks, and at 17 was the youngest person to pass the Series 7 stockbrokers’ exam. He was an investment banker at Houlihan Lokey and graduated with honors from the Goizueta Business School of Emory University.

Silbert has received several awards throughout his career. He was named Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young and Crain’s and being selected to Fortune’s prestigious “40 Under 40” list. He has a longstanding passion for investing in great entrepreneurs with big ideas and has a knack for disruption.

SecondMarket, Inc.

Silbert found SecondMarket Inc. which is a centralized marketplace and auction platform for illiquid assets. The Company’s auction brings together buyers and sellers of auction-rate securities, bankruptcy claims, collateralized debt obligations, limited partnership interests, private company securities, residential and commercial mortgage-backed securities, restricted securities, and block trades. As a result, it allows rivate companies and investment funds to raise capital more efficiently and provide liquidity to their stakeholders by simplifying complex transaction workflows, streamlining investor onboarding, and verifying that investors are accredited.

In recent years, SecondMarket has received several awards including being honoured in the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland as a Technology Pioneer. They have also received several awards from Forbes, Fast Company, Deloitte and other organizations.

SecondMarket is now the largest platform of its kind and in 2017 they refereed several billion dollars in transactions among thousands of investors. The company last disclosed its profits in 2010 where they found out that they had generated $35 million in revenue.

Recently, SecondMarket extended its platform to issuers such as private community banks and inked partnerships with an angel network and an equity crowdfunding site. About this change Silbert said, “I have a vision of creating a new category of company that’s not public and not private but has the benefits of both.”

Digital Currency Group

 

Silbert is the Founder & CEO of Digital Currency Group(DCG). DCG is aiming to build the foundation of the digital currency and blockchain technology industry by launching, incubating, and investing in promising blockchain companies. They have backed more than 120 companies in 30 countries around the world including Coinbase, Ripple, BitPay, and Circle.

In 2016 DCG partnered with Amazon Web Services to create a laboratory environment allowing companies to experiment with blockchain technologies.

Along with its impressive list of investment portfolio, DCG owns the following as well:

  • Grayscale Investments: The largest asset manager in the industry
  • Genesis Trading: Largest regulated OTC crypto trader
  • CoinDesk: The biggest crypto media company in the space.

Grayscale Investments

In 2013, the DCG established Grayscale Investments, the investment community’s trusted authority on digital currency investing. Grayscale’s main action is to provide market insight and investment exposure to the  developing digital currency asset class.

Their main flagship product is the Bitcoin Investment Trust (GBTC).

The GBTC is a private, open-ended trust that is invested exclusively in bitcoin and derives its value solely from the price of bitcoin. It allows the investors to gain exposure to the price behaviour of bitcoin without going through the hassles of buying, storing, and safekeeping them.

According to their website, “At Grayscale, we believe investors deserve an established, trusted, and accountable partner that can help them navigate digital currency investing. That’s why we are building transparent, familiar investment products that facilitate access to this burgeoning asset class, and provide the springboard to investing in the new digital currency-powered “internet of money”.”

Handle: https://twitter.com/barrysilbert

Quotes:

“(on the US political system) Talk about an industry ripe for disruption. If I had the time or energy, I could see myself trying.”

“Bitcoin has the potential to radically transform our concepts of money, store of value, and the means by which assets are exchanged the world over.”

Recommended Interview:

Zooko Wilcox-O’Hearn

 

Born as Bryce Wilcox but more popularly known as “Zooko” Wilcox, he is the founder and CEO of one of the premier privacy coins in the world, Zcash. Zooko has more than 20 years of experience in open, decentralized systems, cryptography and information security, and startups. He is recognized for his work on DigiCash, Mojo Nation, ZRTP, Tahoe-LAFS, BLAKE2, and SPHINCS. He is also the Founder of Least Authority.

In 2001, he co-created the Zooko’s Triangle concept, which describes three properties considered desirable for names of participants in a network protocol:

  • Human-meaningful
  • Secure
  • Decentralized

Wilcox-O’Hearn’s theory was that no single name can show more than 2 of the 3 properties. This theory has however since been disproved.

ZCash

Zcash is a decentralized peer-to-peer cryptocurrency. It was created as a fork of Bitcoin and quite like bitcoin it also has a hard limit of 21 million coins. However, that’s where the comparisons end. Zcash gives you complete and total privacy through the utilization of Zk-SNARKs. In order to understand Zcash, you must understand Zk-SNARKs. Zk-SNARKS stand for Zero-Knowledge Succinct Non-Interactive Arguments of Knowledge.

As Zooko puts it, “Zcash is another blockchain and cryptographic money which permits private exchanges (and by and large private information) in an open blockchain. This permits organizations, buyers, and new applications to control who gets the chance to see the points of interest of their exchanges, even while utilizing a worldwide, authorization less blockchain.”

How are ZCash transactions different from the normal bitcoin ones? First, let’s look at a pictorial representation of a Zcash transaction:

What does that image tell us? In Zcash, you have a choice to choose between two kinds of transactions:

  • Normal transparent transaction
  • Shielded private transaction

Suppose Alice wants to send 1 Zec to Bob. (Zec = Zcash). She can either send a normal transparent transaction, she can send the tokens to Bob’s transparent address or t-addr. But what if she wanted to make a private transaction? Well, she can simply send the tokens to Bill’s shielded address aka “z-addr.

Least Authority Enterprises

Least Authority was formed in 2011 to create freedom-compatible technologies. The company moved to Berlin in 2016. The team believes that freedom matters in Internet technology. The core idea is for users to take advantage of online services while retaining control over their own data.

According to their website, “We are building an affordable, ethical, usable, and lasting data storage solution. We believe this requires Free and Open Source software, end-to-end cryptography, user-friendly interfaces, and a sustainable economic model.”

The products that they have built so far are:

  • S4: Simple Secure Storage Service (S4) is Least Authority’s verifiably secure off-site backup system for individual use.
  • Gridsync: Gridsync uses easy-to-use cross-platform desktop application that provides a graphical user interface (GUI) for S4 and creates and syncs Magic Folders with S4.
  • Command Line Interface(CLI): It is a command line interface for power users providing low-level tools for manual backups, versioned snapshots, single-file uploads and more.
  • Redundant Array of Independent Clouds (RAIC): RAIC will be a multi-cloud add-on to other Least Authority products.

Handle: https://twitter.com/zooko

Quotes:

“I’d always had the idea that humanity’s best resource is the other people that can help you out and they can cooperate with you and that we’re unable to take advantage of that resource by constraints of distance and language and culture and national borders and things like that.

“Privacy is really essential to decentralization. At a certain sort of protocol level, it’s almost the same thing because the reason for de-centralization is censorship resistance, right? And the easiest, and probably the most powerful way to censor people is to threaten them. So if someone is writing or reading books that you disapprove of, you don’t try to intercept shipments of books, you just tell anyone. Anyone who writes or reads or shares, this book is going to jail. Right? So in the same way with modern internet protocols, if our goal is to achieve censorship resistance and let people use the protocol to cooperate with each other in defiance of some third party who wishes to prevent them from cooperating, then probably the number one component at the technical level to provide that is encryption.”

Recommended Interview:

Joseph Lubin

With a net worth of $1-5 billion, Joseph Lubin is one of the richest people in the crypto space. Lubin is one of the co-founders of Ethereum and he is also the founder of Consensys which hires over 900 employees. Before that he was working in the finance space, building trading systems, running a hedge fund and working for Goldman Sachs’ private wealth management division.

Early Career

Before Lubin got into the Blockchain space, he served as the vice president of technology for the private wealth management division of Goldman Sachs. However, two things happened which made Lubin reconsider his approach.

Firstly, the 9/11 terrorist attacks made him re-evaluate the way the world’s organizations are structured. Influenced by Ayn Rand’s works, he started looking into when centralized control goes wrong and when decentralized alternatives may be the right thing to go for.

“Decentralized infrastructures, if they’re executed well, can be more fluid, can be more responsive, can distribute power more broadly, equitably,” he said.

Secondly, the financial collapse of 2008 severely affected him mentally. He started traveling and he first thought about settling down in South America, where he went so far as to place an offer on a piece of land in South America. However, he then went to Jamaica and settled down doing some music management.

However, a year later, something happened here that completely changed Lubin’s life.

Ethereum

Lubin came across the Bitcoin whitepaper and he finally saw the potential for a decentralized system. He then received Vitalik Buterin’s Ethereum white paper on January 1, 2014. This moment was extremely pivotal for him.

In his first ever article on the ConsenSys site, Lubin wrote:

“Since that day in January, I – in conjunction with many gifted thinkers and technologists – have labored obsessively to help bring ethereum, and elements of the decentralized economic and social ecosystem that we are building on it, into existence.”

He spoke with Buterin and Di Lorio and committed to supporting the project. He was rumored to be one of the top buyers in the Ethereum ICO. However, by the time Ethereum mined its genesis block, Lubin had already founded his second company, ConsenSys.

ConsenSys

Lubin founded ConsenSys in early 2015 as a “software foundry to develop decentralised software services and applications that operate on the Ethereum blockchain.” As of right now, they have more than 900 employees and 48 spokes. The office is located in an old industrial building in Bushwick, Brooklyn and was described by The New York Times as “essentially one large room, with all the messy trademarks of a start-up operation, including white boards on the walls and computer parts lying around.”

Lubin was funding ConsenSys with his stash of Bitcoins but he then started to sell some of his Ethers to fund the firm. He holds a majority stake in the company, which provides security audits, token launches and other services to traditional companies. It also helps launch crypto businesses. Consensys’s main focus is on enabling decentralized governance via the development of software tools.

Following are some of the projects that Consensys is working on:

  • BTC Relay: They use the smart contract functionality in Ethereum to allow people to verify Bitcoin transactions from Ethereum’s Blockchain.
  • Ether.camp: An Ethereum blockchain explorer.
  • Blockapps Strato: This is a partnership with Microsoft Azure. The idea is to build industry-specific blockchain applications.
  • TransActive Grid: ConsenSys collaborated with LO3 Energy to allow peer-to-peer electricity sales
  • Ujo Music: Imogen Heap used it to release her single Tiny Human.
  • uPort: An Ethereum blockchain-based identity management system.
  • LOFT project: A collaboration between ConsenSys and John Hancock Insurance
  • DAOWars: A project where human players design autonomous agents to outfight and outwit other agents created by competitors.

Handle: https://twitter.com/ethereumJoseph

Quotes:

“Cryptocurrencies are a narrow slice of the crypto-assets space. There are many cryptocommodities, cryptoderivatives and cryptocollectabiles. The United States is coming to the understanding that you can issue token securities and these are better ways of issuing equities and shares. We are building what we call a decentralised world wide web, where instead of silos systems run by Facebook, Google and Twitter, you have shared infrastructure working much more collaboratively.”

“As we see more internet of things (IoT) usage, more software agents can transact through blockchain with legally-enforceable agreements. There is a project open law, under which you can create these agreements.”

Recommended Interview:

The Winklevoss Twins

If you have watched the move “Social Network” then you must know who Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss aka The Winklevoss Twins are. The movie is about the famous 2004 lawsuit where they sued Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, with the case ending in a $65 Million settlement. In the movie actor Armie Hammer plays both twins. They are also famous for being the first Bitcoin billionaire since they allegedly own 1% of the total Bitcoin supply.

Early Life

Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss were born on August 21, 1981 in Southampton, New York. They are the sons of renowned academic, actuary, and entrepreneur Howard Winklevoss. They had a sister Amanda who unfortunately passed away in 2003 when she was only 23 years old.

Both the twins attended Greenwich Country Day School and the Brunswick High School. In 2000 they both began studying Economics at Harvard where they were also members of the Hasty Pudding Club as well as the Porcellian Club. They did their postgraduate from Oxford University’s Said Business school in 2009. During their time at Oxford, they competed in the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race.

In 2007, the twins competed in the Pan American Games and won a gold and silver medal in the eight boat and men’s coxless four event. The twins also competed at the 2008 Beijing Olympics representing the United States in the men’s coxless pair event. They finished in 6th place. During their time at Harvard, they took part in numerous races and competitions and finished an entire season undefeated. They were part of what came to be known as the “God Squad” at Harvard.

ConnectU and The Facebook Lawsuit

The Winklevoss twins along with fellow Harvard student Divya Narendra created HarvardConnection in December 2002. The idea was to create a social network platform for students to send and receive messages. HarvardConnection was later rebranded as ConnectU and it officially launched in May 2004.

During January 2003, the twins and Divya Narendra took in Sanjay Mavinkurve to work as a computer programmer in the company. Sanjay worked with them till he graduated and secured a job with Google. After him, the twins took in Victor Gao, a good friend of Divya.

However, Gao’s involvement was also short-lived and he got replaced by Mark Zuckerberg. The two parties, i.e. the Winklevosses/Narendra and Zuckerberg entered into a verbal agreement which made Zuckerberg part of the ConnectU project.

The Facebook Lawsuit

In 2004, the Winklevosses and Narendra sued Facebook for breach of contract. According to them, Zuckerberg went back on his oral contract and used the source code of the ConnectU platform which he was developing for the twins and used it to create his own social network.

The case was settled in February 2008 for $65 million. The ConnectU domain address was also acquired and shut down. In 2010, the twins agains accused Facebook of securities fraud because of the incorrect valuation of their stocks that was used during the settlement offer. Of the $65 million, only $25 million was cash while the rest was paid in stocks which was undervalued during the time of payment.

The Court of Appeals ruled against the twins and Narendra and even though they expressed desire to go up to the Supreme Court, they changed their mind later on.

The Twins and Bitcoin

During a vacation in Ibiza in 2012, the twins first came across Bitcoin through a friend. They began buying Bitcoins and studying as much as they can about the Blockchain Technology. With their background in Economics they fully grasped the level of disruption that Bitcoin can bring into the finance world. They began investing in Bitcoin-related companies like Xapo.

In March 2013, the twins made news when they purchased 100,000 Bitcoins. From the $65 million settlement that they got from the Facebook lawsuit, they decided to invest $11 million to get those bitcoins. As a result, in November of 2017, when the price of bitcoins hit $11,300, they became bitcoin billionaires. The value of their bitcoins went up to a staggering 10,000% in just 4 years. At that time, they were the only bitcoin billionaires along with Satoshi Nakamoto.

Gemini

 

Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss announced Gemini in January 2014 and the company went live on October 25th, 2015. Gemini is a fiat-to-crypto exchange platform, meaning that users can buy crypto in exchange for fiat money. The platform is available in 42 states of USA as well as Singapore, Canada, Japan, and the UK. They are headquartered in New York and are fully licensed to offer Bitcoin and Ethereum exchange services to their customers.

Because of their robust security and quality assurances, Gemini is one of the most trusted exchange platforms out there. The fiat deposits are kept in FDIC-insured banks and the majority of the crypto coins are stored in cold storage. In June 2016, Gemini became the first licensed Ether exchange in the world and in May 2018 Gemini announced that they had become the world’s first Zcash exchange. Here are some more interesting facts about Gemini:

  • According to New York Times, Gemini is trusted by Ari Paul, of the hedge fund BlockTower Capital, who deals in virtual currency.
  • As announced by both Bloomberg and Fortune, Gemini was the first exchange to launch bitcoin futures contracts.
  • Fortune Magazine also reported that Cboe uses Gemini “as the basis for the daily settlement for the bitcoin futures”

Handle:

Tyler Winklevoss: https://twitter.com/tylerwinklevoss

Cameron Winklevoss: https://twitter.com/winklevoss

Quotes:

“If you can’t see bitcoin at $320,000, you just lack imagination”

“For me, becoming the best you can be in something that you love, like rowing, is incredibly challenging, and what you learn about yourself, the sense of satisfaction as you get older and move on, you’ll never forget that. It’s huge. “

Recommended Interview:

Da Hongfei

Da Hongffei, the founder, and CEO of NEO and Onchain is easily one of the most noted and well-known figures in the Chinese blockchain industry. He is responsible for the creation of the few China-based blockchain companies. In fact, he is so well-respected in the Chinese government that they apparently contacted him before the September ICO and crypto exchange platform ban.

Education and Early Career

Hongfei studied in the renowned South China University of Technology in the Guangdong Province of China between 1997 and 2001. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Technology and English.

After graduation, he worked at IntPass Consulting, Shanghai from 2005 to 2013. He served as a Board member and as the CEO of the company.

Blockchain Work Before NEO

Around 2011, Hongfei came across Bitcoin and immediately realized how disruptive it can be. Because of his studies in his University, he was able to inculcate a broader worldview and dive deep into Bitcoin’s technology. According to him, Bitcoin presented a new philosophy which could change the world’s perception of the economy.

With Bitcoin interest in China was still in its infancy, Hongfei passionately began campaigning for the development of an active Bitcoin community in China. As the Bitcoin community in China grew, Hongfei became one of the pillars. Hongfei eventually moved on to create NEO, his own blockchain and smart contract platform.

NEO

When you think of “blockchain” and “China”, the first thing that pops into your head is Neo. For a long time, it has been called “China’s Ethereum” and even the “Ethereum Killer.” Having said that, let’s look deeper into the project and see if it is worth all the hype.

Neo, formerly known as Antshares, is a “non-profit community-based blockchain project that utilizes blockchain technology and digital identity to digitize assets, to automate the management of digital assets using smart contracts, and to realize a “smart economy” with a distributed network.”

Shanghai-based blockchain R&D company “OnChain” is the force behind NEO. OnChain and Neo are both helmed by CEO Da Hongfei and CTO Erik Zhang. Research on Neo started around 2014. In 2016, Onchan was listed in the Top 50 Fintech Company in China by KPMG.

Handle: https://twitter.com/dahongfei

Quotes:

“The best way (for educating the massive population about blockchain) is to find out the killer app that can help everyone, to make your life better, so that’s the best way to educate the general public.”

“The US market is more heavily regulated, all the exchanges here are licensed. In China, it’s different, centralized exchange or exchange venue is prohibited in mainland China, but in other asian countries, for example in Japan it’s also licensed. In South Korea, people are crazy about trading tokens, and they are not regulated right now. It’s complicated.”

Recommended Interview:

Dan Morehead

Up next we have one of the most prolific people in the crypto-space. This man, who has more than 25 years of experience in managing global macro funds, macro trading, and investment advisory services, is the CEO at Pantera Capital. He graduated magnum cum laude from the Princeton University with a B.S. in Civil Engineering and received the Carmichael Prize.

Bankers Trust

Between 1989-1995, Morehead was the Managing Director, of Bankers Trust wherein he managed a global macro fund and derivatives trading units in North America and Japan that achieved a 28.7% pro forma net annualized return. As a Derivatives Trading Manager he also managed equity, interest rate, and mortgage derivatives trading businesses in New York and Tokyo.

Tiger Management

He was the CTO of the Tiger management Corp. and he came up with their innovative risk management methodology and managed its implementation and established many of the policies that enabled the large funds to liquidate.

As a head of Macro Trading, he identified and analysed macro investments for the portfolio and was in charge of macro liquidity position and Wall Street counter-party relationships.

Pantera Capital Management

Pantera Capital is the first U.S. based Bitcoin investment firm. Not only are they the leading blockchain investment firm, they also happen to be the largest institutional owners of cryptocurrencies. They have offices in San Francisco, London, and New York and raised $1.3 billion primarily for a discretionary global macro fund and launched four non-macro funds, raising a total of $120 million.

Handle: https://twitter.com/dan_pantera

Quotes:

“Bitcoin’s essentially going to revolutionize currency, or money.”

“Decades of experiments in cryptocurrencies were attempted. Bitcoin’s the first one to get it right. Bitcoin is the first mover and it has the most developers building on it and the most money invested.”

Recommended Interview:

Jimmy Song

Jimmy Song is a well-known name in the Bitcoin community. He has worked in various Bitcoin projects over the years and is now a venture partner at Blockchain Capital. He owns the popular blockchain blog, Bitcoin Tech Talk and the youtube channel, “Off Chain with Jimmy Song“.

Education and Early Career

Song graduated with a degree in Mathematics from the University of Michigan in 1998. He also studied mathematics at the Technical University of Budapest. Before getting into Bitcoin, Song worked as a software developer for a wide array of companies in different fields including entertainment, healthcare, e-commerce, etc.

Post-Blockchain Career

Monetas

In 2014, Song joined Monetas where he was leading the development of bitcoin integration with open transactions for almost a year. Monetas is a software company focused on bringing the most advanced financial and legal services to all consumers and businesses worldwide.

Armory Technologies

Song moved to Armory Technologies, based in Fulton Maryland, which develops and operates an open source bitcoin wallet management platform for businesses worldwide. Song managed the development of a business friendly Bitcoin wallet.

Paxos

Paxos is an American financial technology company, established in September 2016 and based in New York, with international offices in London and Singapore. Song was the Principal Architect for Paxos creating blockchain solutions for institutional entities.

He then joined Blockchain Capital as a Venture Partner in January 2018.

Handle: https://twitter.com/jimmysong

Quotes:

“Blockchain by itself hasn’t actually excited me all that much. As a technology it’s only mildly more interesting than a database. What’s actually interesting is Bitcoin because Bitcoin is decentralized, that is, doesn’t have a single choke point that can be regulated. I got excited about Bitcoin back in 2011.”

“I imagine in about 20 years, most people will store value in Bitcoin in some fashion whether they know it or not.”

Recommended Interview:

Matthew Spoke

One of the main projects that is trying to bring interoperability into the blockchain space is AION. Matthew Spoke is the Founder of AION and the CEO and co-founder of Nuco, a world-leading enterprise blockchain company. He got his BCom in accounting from the University of Ottawa and Chartered Accountant degree from the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants.

Deloitte

Spoke was founded and was in charge of Deloitte’s blockchain team, Rubix. According to their website, “Deloitte Digital’s Blockchain team bridges the gap between the exponentially innovative nature of blockchain technology and the complexity of existing enterprise system environments. We collaborate closely with our clients through their blockchain journey from ideation to commercialization.”

Nuco

Spoke left Deloitte with two of his colleagues at Deloitte and found Nuco Inc.

Nuco Inc. is the developer of the Nuco enterprise blockchain platform and a founding member and director of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance. It is headquartered in Toronto, Ontario. It is backed by Bessemer Venture Partners. One of Nuco’s advisor happens to be Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin.

AION

Nuco’s team then went on to build AION. AION is a multi-tier system designed to address unsolved questions of scalability, and interoperability in blockchain networks. According to them, “Aion will become the common protocol used for these blockchains, enabling more efficient and decentralized systems to be built. The Aion protocol enables the development of a federated blockchain network, making it possible to seamlessly integrate dissimilar blockchain systems in a multi-tier hub-and-spoke model, similar to the internet.”

Ethereum Enterprise Alliance

From their website, “The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA) is the industry’s first global standards organization to deliver an open, standards-based architecture and specification to accelerate the adoption of Enterprise Ethereum. The EEA’s world-class Enterprise Ethereum Client Specification and forth-coming testing and certification programs will ensure interoperability, multiple vendors of choice, and lower costs for its members – the world’s largest enterprises and most innovative startups.”

Handle: https://twitter.com/mattspoke

Quotes:

“We have a unique opportunity to build a foundation for the future economy. Aion is our contribution to that future, and we need the best and brightest to work alongside us to make it real.”

“I get the feeling that “security token” is just the new “enterprise Blockchain”; a term intended to make the technology less scary to the incumbent market its looking to replace.”

Recommended Talk:

Ben Delo

Ben Delo, the co-founder of Bitcoin Mercantile Exchange aka BitMex, is Britain’s youngest self-made billionaire. BitMex is one of the biggest trading platforms out there with a daily volume of $2,518,497,889 USD or 376,730 BTC.

Delo has earned a lot of praise for his frugal style of living. Him and his wife, Pan Pan Wong, have taken a page out of their role models Warren Buffet and Bill Gates in order to save up on money and give away as much as possible to charity. He only owns three pairs of shoes and eats at McDonald’s using special offer vouchers.

Early Life and Education

As a child, Delo had a hard time fitting in. He was kicked out of 3 schools for “bad behavior”. At the age of 16, he got his act together when he decided that his goals were to be an “internet entrepreneur, millionaire and computer programmer”. He eventually got into Oxford and graduated first in class with a math and computer science degree. His classmates recognized his greatness and voted him “Most Likely To Become A Millionaire.” Funnily enough, they also voted him second on the “Most Likely To End Up In Jail” list.

Post graduation, Delo worked as a software engineer for IBM and then joined JP Morgan to help develop their high-frequency trading systems.

BitMex

BitMex is a Seychelles-registered trading platform founded in 2014. Their speciality is margin trading. Margin is a loan that is extended by the broker and lets you enter larger trades by allowing you to leverage the funds and securities in your account.

BitMex specializes in sophisticated margin trading and offers upto 100X leverage trading and Bitcoin derivatives trading. The company is worth a staggering $3.6 billion

Quotes:

“There was a first generation of people with no experience in finance; their work was full of security holes and false accounting. The 2nd generation were {some prominent public exchanges}. They went down the .com path with lawyers and engineers, but they again didn’t know much about finance. They don’t know how to properly structure a product and their auto-matching engines are a joke. We’re the third generation. Our first goal was to target institutional traders, the “Bloomberg traders.” We had to go down a more retail route, but they appreciate why we’re different.”

“I have had my nose down in a start-up for the past four years. I was doing 18-hour days at one point.”

Brian Armstrong

Quick question.

Back in the California Gold Rush, do you know who made the most money?

Was it the ones who were digging for gold?

No.

It was actually the folks who made all the shovels and jeans who made an absolute killing during the gold rush. In fact, the famous jeans company Levis Strauss became a household name during the gold rush.

If we were to compare eras and think of cryptocurrency as another gold rush, then Coinbase and its CEO Brian Armstrong are definitely the Levis Strauss of this era.

With a net worth of little less than a billion dollars, Armstrong is definitely one of the leading lights in the crypto space.

Early Life and Education

Born in San Jose, California on January 25, 1983, Armstrong showed an early interest in computer technology. He took up Java and CSS at a young age which got him the reputation of a nerd in school. He started working out of a neighbor’s garage, developing websites for small-scale local business while still in school.

During his time as a high school student, Armstrong had a passion for building and running businesses. He confessed later on that he had gone over a lot of business ideas regularly with his friends while in High School. During this time he admitted making a lot of mistakes and gaining immense experience from it which helped him later on with Coinbase.

He began attending Rice University in 2001 and graduated in 2005 with a double major in Computer Science and Economics. After attaining his Bachelor’s degree, he began pursuing his Master’s in Computer Science which finished in 2006. Post college, he decided to travel and spent a year in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Before Coinbase

During his time as a junior at Rice University, he spent 4 months as an Intern Team Lead at IBM in San Jose. Leveraging his considerable expertise of Java, he designed Java-based tools for Network Attached Storage devices. Following the completion of his Bachelor’s, he got a job a job at Deloitte and Touche as an Enterprise Risk Management Consultant.

UniversityTutor

In August 2003, Armstrong, along with John Nelson, co-founded UniversityTutor. UniversityTutor positioned itself as a global marketplace where parents and students can find their ideal, independent tutors. The idea was to empower these tutors to create their own tutoring enterprise and offer services to a host of potential student-clients.

The platform also matched students to their perfect tutors based on a number of parameters like subject area, educational level, location, and others. Armstrong was the CEO from August 2003 all the way to May 2012.

Airbnb

Armstrong started working for hospitality giants Airbnb from May 2011. He worked here for just over one year before he went on to establish Coinbase in June 2012.

Coinbase

In the Christmas of 2010, Armstrong came across Bitcoin. He noted that there weren’t enough Bitcoin trading platforms and realized that for the mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies, such platforms were an absolute necessity. This was when the seeds of Coinbase were first sown.

In July 2011, Armstrong co-founded Coinbase along with Fred Ehrsam. It was thought of as a Bitcoin marketplace for entry-level investors. By 2012, Coinbase was enrolled into the Y Combinator Start-up Incubator Program. Y-Combinator is famous for investing in startups like Dropbox, Weebly, Reddit, and Airbnb.

Coinbase raised $100 million at a valuation of $1.6 billion from six firms, including the prestigious Greylock Partners. They had so much faith in the business model that when a share buyback was offered, no one took it, which is a nearly unprecedented situation.

Just a mere month after the investment, Coinbase was on track to generate a mind-boggling $600 million in annual revenue. As the interest in cryptocurrency grew, Coinbase became the most downloaded iPhone app in the U.S. In 2017, Coinbase generated $1 billion in revenue.

Handle: https://twitter.com/brian_armstrong

Quotes:

“Coinbase’s mission is to create an open financial system that everyone has the opportunity to take part in.”

“Building payment rails for people to get in and out of cryptocurrency from their local currency is a massive undertaking, but one we see as critical in order to get to the open financial system”

Recommended Talk

Vlad Zamfir

Vlad Zamfir is a researcher with the Ethereum foundation and is pretty much the poster boy of the Casper Protocol. Zamfir did his Bachelor’s in Mathematics from the University of Guelph in 2012. He is well-known in the blockchain space for his work on cryptoeconomics, proof of stake, and blockchain sharding.

Casper Protocol

Ethereum, quite like Bitcoin, follows the proof of work consensus system, wherein miners compete to find the next block in the blockchain via solving complex cryptographic puzzles using their computational power. The problem is that proof of work is extremely wasteful and results in low throughput. The solution, according to the Ethereum Foundation, lies in proof of stake. In proof of stake, we have validators instead of miners who lock up a considerable part of their Ethereum as stake.

Validators choose the next block by betting on the block that is likely to be the correct one and receive a reward in proportion to their stake. However, proof of stake has a major weakness. A validator can bet on multiple blocks knowing that they have little to nothing to lose. This problem is called the “nothing at stake” problem. In order to counter this, Ethereum is using a version of the proof of stake where malicious validators will be punished by getting their stake slashed. This protocol is also called the “Casper protocol.”

There are two different version of Casper that Ethereum will use:

  • Casper the friendly finality gadget or Casper FFG which is being developed by Vitalik Buterin. In this one, there will be a proof-of-stake protocol overlaying on top of the normal ethash proof of work protocol. So while blocks are still going to be mined via POW, every 50th block is going to be a POS checkpoint where finality is assessed by a network of validators. This is going to ease the transition into proof of stake from proof of work.
  • Casper Correct-by-Construction or Casper CBC which also called Vlad’s Casper because it is being developed by Vlad Zamfir.

Handle: https://twitter.com/VladZamfir

Quotes:

“PoW maximalists should cut their losses and become PoW moderates instead of continuing to spending time spreading FUD about PoS”

“I have a pretty strong preference of politics, signaling and forking over voting as a legitimate coordination mechanism. And these really are mutually exclusive, or at least trade off, because legitimizing the voting system reduces the number of forks that we would expect.

Recommended Interview:

Vlad Tenev and Baiju Bhatt

Vlad Tenev and Baiju Bhatt are the founders of Robinhood, a U.S.-based financial services company. The Stanford math geniuses launched the company in 2013 and 5 years later it rose to a staggering valuation of $5.6 billion. Lately, they have added Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies and are hoping to build Robinhood into a full-blown digital bank.

Early Life

Vlad Tenev is the son of two World Bank staffers. Growing up be always valued large institutions as opposed to entrepreneurship. He got his Bachelor’s in Mathematics from the Stanford University and was doing his math Ph.D. in UCLA before dropping out.

Baiju Prafulkumar Bhatt was born of immigrant parents. His parents moved to the United States when his father was accepted to a Ph.D. program in theoretical physics at the University of Huntsville Alabama. Bhatt grew up in Poquoson, VA and went to school at Stanford where he got his Bachelor’s in Physics and Masters in Physics.

Robinhood

Tenev and Bhatt became best friends and co-founded two companies in New York together before starting Robinhood in California. Robinhood is a commission-free stock trading app available to anyone with a smartphone. Tenev and Bhatt realized that high-frequency traders and electronic trading firms pay effectively nothing to execute trades. This inspired Tenev and Bhatt to bring existing technology to the retail brokerage market with Robinhood, a commission-free stock brokerage. The Robinhood app has executed more than $2 billion in trades completely free of charge. They make money by the interest on cash in customers’ accounts and by lending people money to buy stocks on margin. The company is valued at $5.6 billion and both Tenev and Bhatt became billionaires and has more than a million customers.

Handle: 

Vlad Tenev: https://twitter.com/vladtenev

Baiju Bhatt: https://twitter.com/bprafulkumar

Quotes:

Tenev: “Financial services is blending in with information technology. The next-generation financial companies getting started right now are all to some extent software companies”

Bhatt: “I have always had strong willpower. Over the years, I’ve overcome challenges when I’ve set my mind to them, which has proven especially relevant as I’ve created Robinhood and grown as a leader. A personal but very important example comes from my childhood. As a kid, I had always struggled with being overweight. When I was a sophomore in high school, I decided I wanted to change that once and for all. That spring, I started exercising every single day, and by the time I started junior year, I had lost nearly 70 pounds. I looked and felt like a completely different person.”

Recommended Interview:

Olaoluwa Osuntokun

Olaoluwa “Laolu” Osuntokun is the CTO of the Lightning Labs and one of the principal creators of the Lightning Network.

Early Life

Olaoluwa received his B.S and M.S in Computer Science from UCSB. His focus was on applied cryptography and specifically encrypted search. He spent three consecutive summers as a Software Engineering Intern at Google.

Lightning Network

The lightning network, conceptualized by Joseph Poon and Tadge Dryja, has been long touted as the solution to all of Bitcoin’s scalability issues, and Litecoin has been one of the many projects that are working on it. So what is the lightning network? Let’s give you a brief overview first.

Two people, let’s say, Alice and Charlie, open a state channel between them and exchange as many coins as they want between them OFF THE BLOCKCHAIN. When they are done making the transfers, the final state of the transaction is put on the main blockchain.

Before we start, let’s understand what state channels mean. A state channel is a two-way communication channel between participants which enables them to conduct interactions, which would normally occur on the blockchain, off the blockchain.

Ok, now let’s go into the details.

The lightning network is based on HTLCs aka Hashed Timelock Contracts. Let’s see how it works. Imagine Alice wants to send some bitcoins to Charlie, and they both have Bob in common.

  • Alice opens a channel with Bob and Bob opens a channel with Charlie.
  • Alice declares that she wants to pay Charlie 0.01 BTC.
  • Charlie declares a random string S and generates its hash H and hands it to Alice.
  • Alice sends Bob the hash H and they open a multi-sig channel between them. The conditions of the channel are:
    a) Bob gets the 0.1 BTC if and only if he can show Alice the string S from which the H is derived.
    b) There is an nLocktime of 2 days wherein, if Bob cannot produce the string then Alice gets a refund of 0.01 BTC.
  • Bob then shows the hash H to Charlie, proving that he has interacted with Alice and they proceed to open a multi-sig channel between them with the following conditions:
    a) Charlie gets 0.01 BTC if and only he shows Bob the String S from which the hash H has been derived.
    b) There is an nLocktime of 1 day (less than the locktime of the Bob-Alice channel) wherein if Charlie can’t produce the string then Bob gets a refund of 0.01 BTC.
  • If Charlie produces the string S then Bob sends him the 0.01 BTC.
  • Similarly, Bob shows Alice the string S and gets the 0.01 BTC from her.

While most lightning developers have been focused on solving bitcoin’s more commonly known protocol-level problems, Osuntokun is actually thinking about launching a production application on top of the network. He is envisioning a way to create a video app that could potentially revolutionize the traditional digital advertising model. He believes that it is quite possible with the tools that are available in the present day.

Handle: https://twitter.com/roasbeef

Quotes:

“Constructions such as HTLC-DASH really show the added utility things like Lightning add to bitcoin. I think we’ll see the community continue to explore the new applications and use cases that Lightning unlocks for bitcoin.”

“On what I can find with respect to the methodology used to generate these metrics, […] the model itself is flawed, and produces flawed metrics. When one takes into account how Lightning Network works, this is akin to saying ’the probability of room that fits ten people may fit 50 people is 0 [percent].”

Recommended Interview:

Song Chi-Hyung

Song Chi-Hyung is the founder and CEO of Upbit, which in 3 short months became the largest crypto exchange in South Korea. Upbit recieved funding from internet giants Kakao Corp. through its holding company Dunamu. They partnered up with Bittrex to trade total 120 tokens from 214 markets. Upbit eventually went to have a daily trading volume of $4.7 billion hitting a high of $11 billion on a single day. Song’s personal net worth skyrocketed to $500 million, making him one of the richest men in the crypto space.

Education

Song is a graduate of the extremely prestigious Seoul National University wherein he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in computer science and economics. He was planning to do his MBA in the late 1990’s however he dropped out and landed his first tech job at an IT firm.

Dunamu

Back in 2012, Song founded Dunamu, in Seoul Korea, which means two trees. It started as the developer of News Mate, a mobile application that provides soft copies of newspapers and magazines published in Korea. Its media list includes newspapers and magazines such as Chosun Ilbo, Hankyoreh Newspaper, OhmyNews, Dong-A Ilbo, Byuaen News, Korea Times, Money Today, Pressian, Economic Daily, Korea Economic SBS, and other publications.

However, it quickly shifted its focus to fintech and attracted a $187,000 investment from Kakao’s holding company, K Cube Ventures and then, later on, got a $3.8 million directly from the firm 2 years later. This partnership between Dunamu and Kakao created KakaoStock, a mobile stock trading app which now has more than 300,000 users and leverages Kakao’s instant messaging base of 50 million.

Upbit

Upbit was launched by Kakao and its ultimate aim is to allow trading of 111 different cryptocurrencies from 167 different markets. Upbit already had a lot of hype behind it because Kakao Corp is a big deal in South Korea. Kakao has an app called Kakao Talk which is the most popular messaging app in South Korea. On top of that, they also own Daum, which is the second most popular search engine in Korea, just behind Naver in terms of overall value.

Upbit’s functionality and UI are similar to Kakao Stock where users will be able to interact with the platform via a mobile device. As of writing, Upbit had a 24 hour trading volume of $131,780,154 USD.

Handle: – 

Quotes:

“There is high interest in cryptocurrencies and blockchain in Korea. And now is a pivotal opportunity for Korea to become the global mecca of blockchain-based technologies. Through this investment, we hope to become a foothold for youths who are interested in blockchain technologies to establish and run their own startups.”

Recommended Interview: –

Justin Sun

At the age of 26, Justin Sun was hand picked by Alibaba CEO and billionaire, Jack Ma himself to study at the Jack Ma Hupan University for entrepreneurs which has an acceptance rate lower than Princeton. That alone should shed a light on the genius of the man. Sun is the CEO of PEIWO, the largest voice live streaming app in China, and has more than 10 million users. He is also the Chief Representative and Advisor at Ripple Labs. Lastly, he founded the company that he is most known for, TRON. He is a Forbes 30 under 30.

Education

Along with the Jack Ma University, Sun has a Bachelor’s degree in Arts from Peking University where he was on the Dean’s List for 3 years and was the President of Association of Western Study. He then went on to get his Master’s in Arts from the University of Pennsylvania.

PEIWO

PEIWO is the largest voice live streaming app in China and enjoys tremendous popularity among Chinese teenagers. They have attracted institutions such as IDG Capital Partners, China Equity and they have also attracted several Chairmen and CEOs of several China listed companies. PEIWO is located in China’s high-tech hub Zhongguancun.

Ripple Labs

Sun joined Ripple Labs as the first employee at Greater China area and served as the Ripple Labs’ Chief Representative in Greater China, Special Representative, and Advisor since 2014.

Ripple Labs was named on the 50 Smartest Companies by MIT Technology Review and is backed by well known investors like Google Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, Lightspeed Venture Partners and IDG Capital Partners.

According to Wikipedia, Ripple is a real-time gross settlement system (RTGS), currency exchange and remittance network created by Ripple Labs Inc., a US based technology company.

The main aim of Ripple is to connect banks, payment providers, digital asset exchanges, and corporates through RippleNet with negligible transaction fees. The payments are done via the native token XRP. Let’s look at some of the most exciting features of Ripple:

  • Ripple is extremely fast and scalable. Payment settlement on Ripple takes place within 4 seconds, with transaction speed of 1500 tsp
  • They already have >100 customers with >75 clients in various stages of deployment across three main primary use cases: cross-border payments (xCurrent), minimizing liquidity costs (xRapid), and to send payments across various networks (xVia)

Tron Foundation

 

The TRON foundation was founded in 2017 and is dedicated to building the infrastructure for a truly decentralized Internet. They aim to provide scalable, high-availability, and high-throughput support that serves as the foundation for all decentralized applications in the TRON ecosystem. They are also trying to improve compatibility with Ethereum smart contracts by using innovative, pluggable smart contract platform.

There is a high interest in TRON and it gained the financial backing and seals of approval from some of the biggest business names in China. Notable investors include Tang Binsen, the founder of Clash of Kings; Dai Wei, the founder and CEO of OFO bike, one of the largest sharing economy companies in China; Chaoyong Wang, founder of China Equity Group, one of the largest investment groups in China with market value of over $2 billion (bn); Yin Mingshan, LiFan group founder and one of the largest motor manufacturers in China; Yang Linke, the founder of BTCC.com.

Sun is leveraging his humongous Peiwo user-base to boost TRON’s utility. Peiwo will become the first TRON-compatible entertainment app and the first live show software in the world to support a ‘smart contract protocol’ of virtual currency, allowing those 10 million registered users to benefit from the additional functions of virtual currency.

Handle: https://twitter.com/justinsuntron

Quotes:

“We are very confident that TRON will reach a target of one million wallets registered within a year. The first million registered users will be rewarded with considerable TRX tokens by registering on the TRON platform.”

“#TRON intends to be the largest decentralized Internet ecosystem in the world. With the mission of making the Internet decentralized once again, we are dedicated to making decentralized Internet services available for everyone in the world.”

Recommended Interview:

Pavel Durov

The “Mark Zuckerberg of Russia” definitely belongs on this list. He is the founder of Facebook Clone VKontakre, which was allegedly taken away from him by Russian cronies. In 2014 he founded the popular messaging platform Telegram. Telegram raised a, then world record, $1.7 billion in their ICO. Durov and his brother Nikolai Durov have left Russia in a self-imposed exile and are currently natives of Saint Kitts and Nevis. He is also known for his various eccentricities, chief among them his sense of fashion. He only wears black like the character Neo from The Matrix.

Early Life and Education

Durov was born in Russia on October 10, 1984, in St. Petersburg. His grandfather Semyon Petrovich Tulyakov fought for Russia in the World War 2 having served the 85th Infantry Regiment. He took part in the battle at  Leningrad front on Krasnoborsky Gatchinsky and other directions. For his bravery, he was awarded the Order of the Red Star, the Order of the Patriotic War II degree, and the Order of the Great Patriotic War level I (on the 40th Victory Day).

Durov’s father Valery Semenovich Durov is a Doctor of Philological Sciences, the author of many scientific papers, and since 1992 he has been head of the department of classical philology of philological faculty of St. Petersburg State University.

His brother Nikolai with whom he was always very close,  is a mathematician, candidate of physical and mathematical sciences, winner of multiple Russian and international competitions in mathematics and informatics, twice the absolute world champion in programming among students, and was the technical director of “VKontakte” from its founding until mid-2013

Pavel Durov learned how to code in school, and he used to always play pranks on fellow students. He went to an Italian elementary school and after returning to Russia in 2001 attended the Academy Gymnasium in St. Petersburg. He graduated in 2006 from the Philology Department with a first class degree.

VKontakte

After leaving university, the Durov brothers started VKontakte(VK) a social media platform inspired by Facebook. It became incredibly popular and grew to over 350 million users. The company grew to a $3 billion valuation. Pavel himself made a lot of money as his net worth shot to $260 million. VK offices were based in the fifth and sixth floors of Singer House, an iconic building in central Saint Petersburg.

However, things were rushing towards a particularly nasty divorce.

VK came under the spotlight when it was discovered that it was used as a hub by supporters of outspoken political activist, Alexei Navalny, who was deemed anti-government. The government started demanding that VK remove Navalny’s pages after a particularly controversial parliamentary election.

In a clear message of defiance, Durov responded by sharing a photo of a dog in a hoodie. The government reacted by sending armed men to his apartment late at night. They stayed there for about an hour.

After sustained pressure, Durov finally had to sell his stocks to Ivan Tavrin, the owner of the major Russian internet company Mail.ru.

Post this, Durov left Russia and obtained Kitts and Nevis citizenship through donating $250,000 to the country’s Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation, and secured US$300 million in cash within Swiss banks. This laid the foundation of his next company, Telegram.

Telegram

Telegram is a cloud-based instant messaging and voice over IP service developed by Telegram Messenger LLP, a privately held company registered in London, United Kingdom. Telegram client apps are available for Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Windows NT, macOS, and Linux. Users can send messages and exchange photos, videos, stickers, audio and files of any type.

Telegram has become the app of choice for ICOs to interact with their community.

Durov was reportedly spending $1 million (£700,000) of his money every month to keep Telegram running since it has no means of generating revenue. He conducted an ICO over two rounds, $850 million each and overall $1.7 billion to fund the app.

Handle: https://twitter.com/durov

Quotes:

“For 7 days Russia has been trying to ban Telegram on its territory – with no luck so far. We were able to survive under the most aggressive attempt of internet censorship in Russian history with almost 18 million IP addresses blocked.”

“You cannot make it safe against criminals and open for governments. It’s either secure or not secure. If such a measure is implemented, most of our correspondence, our business secrets, our private data would be put at risk. Because if there’s a back door, not only a government official could use it, but theoretically criminals including terrorists [could too].”

Recommended Interview:

Brendan Eich

Brendan Eich is an American programmer and creator of the JavaScript programming language. He co-founded Mozilla and served as the Mozilla Corporation’s chief technical officer and then CEO. He then went out to find Brave Software which is powered by the Basic Attention Tokens (BAT).

JavaScript

Let us ask you a question, what is the most important programming language for one to learn, especially in this modern era? While you can make a case for the classics like C++. Java etc., we believe that JavaScript definitely needs to be up for consideration as well.

Think about this, before Javascript came along, websites used to be extremely static. JavaScript brought along the era of more user-friendly and dynamic websites. When you keep this in context and realize how much business is done online, you can see why you can make such a strong case for Javascript.

Brendan Eich is the man who created JavaScript. You can imagine the immense debt that the world owes him.

Mozilla Firefox

Mozilla Firefox is a free and open-source web browser which has been developed by Mozilla Foundation and its subsidiary, Mozilla Corporation. Firefox client is available for Windows, macOS, Linux, and BSD. It uses the Gecko layout engine to render web pages. Firefox started becoming really important around 2009 when usage rate reached a peak of 32% and it temporarily became the world’s most popular browser. However, competition from Google Chrome decreased the usage rate.

As of March 2018, Firefox has 11.6% usage making it the second most popular such web browser which eventually fell down to 5.44% (becoming the 4th most popular browser overall). As of December 2014, Mozilla revealed that they had half a billion Firefox users around the world.

BAT – Brave Browser

BAT is short for Basic Attention Token; it is a digital advertising token which is built on the Ethereum blockchain. The purpose of the BAT token is to create an ad exchange marketplace which will connect the advertisers, publishers, and users in a decentralized manner. The purpose of BAT is to monetize user attention and remove all the other needless expenditure related to ad networks.

This is what the BAT token does:

  • Serves as a unit of exchange by cutting out the middlemen
  • Rewards users, publishers, and advertisers.
  • Users get paid for giving attention to ads.
  • Publishers get a portion of the ad revenue as is the norm.
  • Advertisers get better ROI for their content.

BAT created Brave, an in-house native browser which is integrated with the Bat system. BAT tokens are the native currency that will be used by the system. The upside potential of these tokens is tremendous in every sense of the word. The browser blocks ads and website trackers.

Handle: https://twitter.com/durov

Quotes:

“For 7 days Russia has been trying to ban Telegram on its territory – with no luck so far. We were able to survive under the most aggressive attempt of internet censorship in Russian history with almost 18 million IP addresses blocked.”

“You cannot make it safe against criminals and open for governments. It’s either secure or not secure. If such a measure is implemented, most of our correspondence, our business secrets, our private data would be put at risk. Because if there’s a back door, not only a government official could use it, but theoretically criminals including terrorists [could too].”

Recommended Talk:

Julian Zawistowski

Julian Zawistowski is a Polish programmer and noted blockchain figure who is based in Warsaw . He is the Founder and CEO of The Golem Factory. Golem went live on April 11, 2018. Julian earned a Masters in International Politics and Economics in 2004 from the Warsaw School of Economics.

Pre-Blockchain Career

After college, Julian started working as an Assistant to the National Bank of Poland and of Unit at the Polish Ministry of Economy and Labour. Julian then became the Vice President at the IBS- Institute for Structural Research in 2006 and six years later was promoted to the Chairman of the Foundation Council of the same organization. Before Golem, he founded Claimstorm and imapp.

Golem

Golem describes itself as an “Airbnb for computers”. It is essentially a peer-to-peer network which is aiming to be the world’s first decentralized supercomputer. By tapping into the Golem network you can essentially “rent out” some of the CPU power in the network and use it for your own projects.

By being part of the Golem network, you can use the computational power of your computer with someone who is in a third world country for their projects. They raised $8.6 million back in 2014.

Handle: https://twitter.com/julianzawist

Quotes:

“This is typical for software development in general, and blockchain in particular, we underestimate the complexity of what we want to do.”

“We have a real problem with climate change and anthropogenic greenhouse gases emissions. We have not yet built an incentives system which would be widely accepted thus we fail to coordinate our actions globally to reduce emissions.”

Recommended Interview:

Dominik Schiener

Dominik “Dom” Schiener is an entrepreneur and co-founder of IOTA (Distributed Ledger Technology). He is based in Südtirol, Italy. He came from a small village in South Tyrol which has just 800 inhabitants. From an early age, he was extremely into computers and the internet. At 14, he began to hack into computer games and sold these modifications and achieved a fairly adequate income for my age and effort. With the money that he earned here, he built an advertising platform. At the beginning of 2012, when he was around 16 years old, he learned more about Bitcoin through a friend and finally focused on it at full time.

Pre IOTA

Through the advertising platform, he had a partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS) which gave him $15,000 in credits. He used this money to run his own GPU mining which ended up to be quite profitable and enabled him to create his first startup named Bithaus GmbH, in Zug, Switzerland. This was supposed to be a Fiat Exchange, ie an online exchange for the exchange of euros and dollars in cryptocurrency, however, the company failed and he switched to  “research” (eg Identity, voting, new governance models, DCO’s on the blockchain) and CargoChain (trade finance on the blockchain).

Along with that, he also completed several projects including a Decentralized Wikipedia, an Ethereum -based voting platform, and created a simple prototype of identity on the Bitcoin blockchain.

IOTA

The IOTA foundation was formed in 2015 as a not-for-profit project by Schiener along with David Sønstebø, Sergey Ivancheglo, and Dr. Serguei Popov in Germany. The IOTA Initial Coin Offering in late 2015 managed to collect 1,337 Bitcoins – about $400,000 USD – a very good figure for the time when ICO wasn’t a common event, selling all 1 billion IOTA tokens, driven by IOTA’s feeless transaction model.

IOTA is a token for the crypto world as well as a platform developed by IOTA foundation for Internet of Things. It offers a solution for machine-to-machine communication or trading without the involvement of the third party. This makes IOTA, unlike any other cryptocurrencies.

It allows instant micropayments without incurring a fee. IOTA platform allows a payment of 1 IOTA coin equalling to about 0.001 cents in dollar terms, meaning it can ensure the fulfillment of the smallest tasks in the unified network like sticking on a tag, turning off the tap in the bathroom etc.

And thanks to these features, IOTA can be integrated into the Internet of Things by performing transactions between any machines with internet or points. IOTA addresses the main inherent issues of Internet of Things i.e. security and scalability by use of crypto-solutions but offers a digital currency that is not really based on the blockchain. IOTA’s token currency is known as MIOTA specifically created for a machine-to-machine economy, interactions and payments.

Handle: https://twitter.com/DomSchiener

Quotes:

“The best way to plan in this space is just to set your top priorities and really focus on those. Then the other stuff is less important.”

“You have to constantly adapt and change things because all of your assumptions are constantly being proved wrong. You just really have to be very agile and just move forward. We don’t make 12-month plans.”

Recommended Interview:

Olaf Carlson-Wee

Carlson-Wee is an extremely well-known figure in the crypto space. He wrote a college thesis on Bitcoin and put most of his life savings into crypto. He was the third employee in Coinbase before he left it to find Polychain Capital, where he now serves as the chief investment officer. The crypto fund counts famous Silicon Valley investment funds as its clients, and it recently crossed $1 billion in assets under management.

Carlson-Wee has been living completely on bitcoin as much as he feasibly can for years. He predicted that the digital currency was going to expand, and made the switch in 2012 to get first comer’s advantage.

Early Life and Education

Olaf was born and raised in the state of Minnesota, where he grew up near the border of Fargo, North Dakota. After he completed his high school, he attended the Vassar College wherein he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology. In a 2017 interview by Forbes, he revealed that he first heard about bitcoin in 2011 and decided to write his sociology thesis on the cryptocurrency. At that time, not a lot of academic research was done on Bitcoin and cryptocurrency.

Coinbase

Olaf emailed his Bitcoin thesis to Coinbase which eventually earned him a job. He was Coinbase’s third hire and he worked as the head of risk and product manager from 2013 to 2016. By requesting that he got paid exclusively in Bitcoin, he became one of the first people earn and spend exclusively via Bitcoin.

During his time at Coinbase, he helped the company regulate their customer service responses and generated a test on bitcoin for new applicants. He hired eight applicants during his time there. He also decreased CoinBase’s fraud rate by 75% through cleverly executed AI algorithms.

Polychain

In the month of July, 2016, Olaf set off to start his own Hedge fund to manage Blockchain -based Cryptocurrency technologies. The fund has received more than $200 million from Andreessen Horowitz , Abstract Ventures, Alexander Pack, Pantera Capital , and Union Square Ventures.

Handle: https://twitter.com/polychaincap

Quotes:

“When decentralized blockchain protocols start displacing the centralized web services that dominate the current Internet, we’ll start to see real internet-based sovereignty. The future Internet will be decentralized.”

“We are seeing more managed money and, to an extent, institutional money entering the space. Anecdotally speaking, I know of many people who are working at hedge funds or other investment managers who are trading cryptocurrency personally, the question is, when do people start doing it with their firms and funds?”

Recommended Interview:

Elizabeth Rossiello

Elizabeth Rossiello co-founded BitPesa in 2014 and serves as its Chief Executive Officer. BitPesa serves as a means of cross-border payment system for merchants in Africa and Asia. She speaks four languages: English, German, Italian, and French.

Education

Elizabeth did her schooling from Hunter College High School . She then received her BA in Political science from State University of New York College at Buffalo. She also holds Master’s degree in International Finance from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs .

Before BitPesa

She started her career as an Analyst at Credit Suisse in Zurich and a Robert Bosch Fellow in Frankfurt. However, it was only when she moved to East Africa that she found her calling. She became an expert in East African financial product development and establishing best practices in risk, governance and IT for local banks. She has worked in Kenya as a Microfinance Analyst and Investment Associate since 2009.

BitPesa

BitPesa is a digital foreign exchange and payment platform for frontier markets. BitPesa was founded in November 2013 with headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya and offices and staff in Lagos, London, Luxembourg and Dakar. They launched their beta site at the end of May 2014 with a service that enabled users to send money to any mobile money wallet in Kenya. By the time 2014 came to a close, folks in Kenya could buy bitcoins on the platform. By May 2015, BitPesa launched in Tanzania, enabling its customers to send Tanzanian Shillings to three mobile networks in the country.

The adoption kept on increasing and eventually companies started using it to do deals everywhere from Ghana to Japan. As of right now, Elizabeth is focussed only on expansion. In February, BitPesa acquired European money transfer service TransferZero, a Spanish fin-tech startup that is helping BitPesa to grow its global footprint.

Handle: https://twitter.com/e_rossiello

Quotes:

“So how do you make a payment to your supplier? The way most of these people made payments was, they would carry cash on an airplane. One friend would be representative to go to Guangzhou, China with a bag full of cash. The other way would be to send a wire to an unknown fixer or partner in China ahead of your trip. That would take a few weeks, and when you get off the plane, you hope that guy has sent the wire to your hotel. The hotel gives you cash again, in U.S. dollars, and then they have the hotel FX broker come with his backpack to the hotel and change the cash into RMB. Those are just some of the tamer ways people used to move money around.”

“To make a bank or financial institution or product work in a region where there’s very little infrastructure, you have to invest in technology,”

Recommended Interview:

Nader al-Naji

Nader Al-Naji is an Entrepreneur and Software Engineer and is based in Hoboken, New Jersey . He is the Founder of Basis which is developing a stable cryptocurrency with an algorithmic central bank. Along with that, he also has a blog named Nadertheory where he discusses various crypto and non-crypto related topics.

Early Life and Education

Nader hails from Alexandria, Virginia and he graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in 2010. He then went on to attend Princeton University and was the member of the  varsity rowing team and placed in the top two in two entrepreneurship competitions.

During his senior year of college i.e. 2012, Nader began mining Bitcoin, taking advantage of the free electricity which was present in the campus. From this tiny dorm room mining operation, he was able to accumulate 22 Bitcoins.

He graduated summa cum laude in 2013, a year early, with a Bachelors in Computer Science and a minor in Applied and Computational Mathematics.

Before Basis

Nader started his career as an Intern for D.E. Shaw and became an Associate shortly after graduating. Taken from his Linkedin Page, Nader says about his time in D.E. Shaw, “Worked on short-term forecasts and low-latency infrastructure. Forecasting involved using numpy and SciPy, among other tools, to identify stand-alone signals that are good predictors of 20-minute equity returns. I created several signals, which together improved the accuracy of our forecasting framework by 5% (a very large increase given the maturity and profitability of the existing model). Work on infrastructure involved writing garbage-free Java code to support data required by the signals developed. I also experimented with trading in (and getting data from) dark pools.”

He then went on to join Google in October 2014 where he first worked on ads but was later moved to core search

Basis

It was around 2016 that Nader regained interest in Bitcoin when he noticed that the value of the market was rising again. However, he noticed one weakness in the crypto space. Even though cryptocurrencies offered numerous benefits like privacy, security, low cost, and international reach, people hardly used crypto to buy anything. In fact, most transactions were speculative in nature, with traders simply betting on ups and downs, with almost no use as a medium of exchange.

He reasoned that the biggest culprit of this was price volatility. As far as he was concerned, price volatility is the main blocker to the mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies as a medium of exchange. For example, in the current market, the price of Bitcoin fluctuates so wildly that it is very hard to price things in it. In fact, to make matters worse, it is impossible to have unhedged credit and debt markets if the underlying currency is volatile. As a result, it is also hard to pay an employee’s salary in Bitcoin. Suppose Alice’s salary is fixed at 1 BTC, if the market crashes then she is going to lose out on a lot of money.

To address these issues, in July 2017, he started working on Basecoin which later became Basis, a stable coin cryptocurrency project. Basis offers all the benefits of traditional cryptocurrencies such as privacy, anonymity, and full decentralization, but with a monetary policy built into the blockchain that keeps the price of each token pegged to a stable asset (USD in the short run, basket of goods in the long run).

Basis aims to become the world’s first “algorithmic central bank,” running a rules-based monetary policy and achieving a price stability mandate – all while operating without the need for human discretion. Basis raised $133 million from institutional funds such as Bain Capital, Google Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, Polychain Capital, Stanley Druckenmiller, Pantera Capital etc.

Handle: https://twitter.com/nadertheory

Quotes:

“As an investor, I care a lot more about long-term returns than I do about making a quick buck. Sure, you can get rich chasing the ups and downs of so-called “shitcoins” (yes, that’s a technical term). But it’s a dangerous game, and at the end of the day if you make money, all of your returns will likely come from either instigating or participating in pump-and-dump schemes, and that’s not something I’m OK with morally. Even a lot of the people who chase so-called “blue-chip” coins, like Ethereum and Bitcoin, don’t even know why they’re doing it. Yes, they think the price is going to go up– but they don’t have a good explanation as to why they think that.”

“It’s also possible that nobody else will have the combination of motivation, vision, and expertise necessary to actually make and market the first actually legitimate price-stable coin. If you believe this is the case, then the best path forward might be to either just do it ourselves, or start trying to seed fund people to do it while also trying to get big-name VCs to go in with us. Honestly, I love this stuff so much that I wouldn’t be averse to just leading the effort to start one of these coins myself.”

“Useful as a store of value. This property means that a coin is useful as something you can keep your savings locked up in. In that sense, it’s the “gold 2.0″ use-case, and even though I think it will be a driver of the long-term value of one or a few coins, I don’t really take this property very seriously when considering whether or not to invest in a coin. Why? Because I’m not really interested in speculating on or investing in gold 1.0 (i.e. normal gold). Yes, some people make a lot of money doing that, but at the end of the day I don’t want to spend my life being a judge in a Keynsian beauty contest .”

Recommended Interview:

Will Warren and Amir Bandeali

Will Warren and Amir Bandeali are the co-founders of 0x Project. Will Warren did applied physics at Los Alamos Nat Lab and mechanical engineering at UC San Diego. Amir Bandeali, on the other hand, was previously a fixed-income trader at DRW. He studied finance at the University of Illinois.

Before 0x

Will Warren was the part of the investment club at UC San Diego and became interested in Bitcoin around 2011. He thought it was an interesting piece of technology but didn’t saw only limited use-cases, chief among them being in the Silk Road. His wife (then girlfriend) also got interested in Bitcoin. In fact, her interest was so high, that once Coinbase got legitimized, she left her job at New York and joined them. During this moment, Will’s interest in crypto grew significantly as well.

However, it was when Ethereum was released that he realized that it was the most important invention since the Internet. He was pursuing further academics during that time and he immediately dropped out to work in the crypto space.

Amir Bandeali has a background in trading. He was a trader for about five years first at a company called Chopper Trading in Chicago and then later at DRW. He came across Bitcoin in 2014 and got interested in the technical aspects. In 2016, he came across Ethereum and was inspired to do something in the space.

Will and Amir met each other through a common friend. Will at that time was working on a derivatives projects. He realized that the volatility of the cryptos was a major problem and something needed to be done in order to work around it. He felt that a derivatives would provide the ability to hedge against this volatility.

When Amir joined Will, they realized that tokenized derivatives are not very useful if there’s nowhere to exchange them. That was when they realized the importance of a decentralized exchange and started working on, what would eventually become the 0x Project.

0x Project

 

According to the 0x whitepaper, 0x is “an open protocol for decentralized exchange on the Ethereum blockchain.” To put it simply, anyone anywhere can operate a decentralized exchange, using Ethereum smart contracts, using the 0x protocol. According to 0x, there will be thousands upon thousands of Ethereum tokens in the future and there will be a great need to trustlessly and efficiently exchange them.

That is exactly what they are aiming to do. They were able to raise $24 million in one day.

Handle:

Will Warren: https://twitter.com/willwarren89

Amir Bandeali: https://twitter.com/abandeali1

Quotes:

Will: “Inventory risk. Market makers don’t want to hold onto volatile tokens in order to add liquidity. IMO we need more non-ICO tokens on DEXs”

Will: “Ethereum smart contracts should be designed as modular building blocks that can be assembled or reconfigured. At 0x, we view our system of smart contracts as a pipeline that that is broken into segments which can extended or replaced.”

Amir: “I think one of the challenges with these more theoretical approaches to solving front running is that a lot of them are not going to give the user experience that we want. You know, there are going to require security deposits, long lockups, long withdrawal periods. And this really reduces the ability for other decentralized applications to login to the system. And then the second point I wanted to make is that, I think front running is actually one of the larger problems in the blockchain space in general. I think people view it in the context of decentralized exchange a lot because decentralized exchange is one of the first use cases in production of smart contract based blockchains.”

Recommended Interview:

Teeka Tiwari

Teeka Tiwari is the co-editor at Palm Beach Research Group LLC. He is in charge of the famous Palm Beach Letter and small-cap and cryptocurrency advisory, Palm Beach Confidential. He also serves as an editor for Jump Point Trader and Mega Trends Investing at the firm. At the age of 18, he was the youngest employee at Lehman Brothers, later on, he went on to become the youngest Vice President in the history of Shearson Lehman. He has made appearances at FOX News Channel, CNBC, ABC’s Nightline, etc.

Early Life and Career

Tiwari grew up in the foster care system in the United Kingdom. When he came to the United States, at age 16, he just had $150 in his pocket. 2 years later he became the youngest employee at Lehman Brothers. Two years later, he did one better by becoming the youngest vice president in the history of Shearson Lehman.

During the 1998 Asian Crisis, he made quite some money by going short, however, in his own words, he got greedy and ended up losing everything in 3 weeks. He had to file for personal bankruptcy.

2 years after losing everything, Tiwari built his wealth from the markets and went on to launch a successful hedge fund. After his painful experiences, he made risk management his No. 1 priority. Now that he has retired, his mission is to “help teach individual investors how to grow their money safely.”

Palm Beach Confidential

The Palm Beach Confidential targets individuals who wish to invest in smaller companies and crypto assets that are likely to generate higher returns. It is a US-based publishing company that offers financial advisory related to income-based investments, asset protection, and smart speculation. Because of his work at Palm Beach Confidential, Teeka Tiwari is widely considered as one of the premier cryptoanalysts in the world. He uses a strategy called “asymmetric investing,” which, if implemented properly, can help turn small investments into big gains.

Handle: https://twitter.com/FatYield

Quotes:

“Now, one big trend we’re going to see really soon is the separation of cryptocurrencies into two kinds of coins. We’ll see “security tokens” and “utility tokens.” Security tokens are similar to stocks… but they don’t always give you ownership of the way a typical stock like Apple or Walmart will. You might be buying into an income stream, a profit share, or a royalty.

Since there’s a future expectation of gain, they are considered “securities. These tokens will be tradable just like stocks, and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will provide oversight of them. You’ll be able to buy security tokens on regular exchanges soon. Utility tokens are different. They’re used to buy services on a specific blockchain platform. For instance, ether is the utility token used to buy computational power on the Ethereum network.”

“For two months, I’ve been telling my subscribers to prepare for what I call the “Second Boom.” In the First Boom, we saw a massive surge of buying from individuals. In the Second Boom, we’ll see a massive surge of buying from institutions.”

Recommended Interview:

Brandon Chez

Not much is known about Brandon Chez. What we do know is that he is 31 years old and owns the CoinMarketCap.com website which tracks the prices for more than a thousand cryptocurrencies. CoinMarketCap has since become the homepage for many crypto investors. However, on top of this, Chez has gotten infamy because of the sheer influence in the crypto market. On January 7th, 2018, he single-handedly wiped out $100 billion of total cryptoasset market value by delisting all the South Korean exchanges from the website.

CoinMarketCap

 

CoinMarketCap provides various data about several listed coins, such as their price, available supply, trade volume over last 24 hours or market capitalization. The statistics are updated every 5 minutes. Market capitalization is calculated by multiplying the price by total supply. Prices are calculated by averaging the prices at the major exchanges weighted by volume. Coins with stale datapoints (more than 6 hours old) are shown at the bottom of the list with question marks and are de-listed after 7 days.

For a coin to be added on CoinMarketCap must meet the following criteria:

  • It must be a cryptocurrency
  • It must be traded on a public exchange that is older than 30 days and with an API available.
  • It must have a public URL that displays the total supply (total coins mined so far).

Handle: – 

Quotes: 

“(on the market crash) I think the market was already on a downturn at that point so the timing was quite unfortunate.”

Recommended Interview: –

Erik Voorhees

Erik Tristan Voorhees is an American startup founder and the co-founder of the bitcoin company Coinapult, worked as Director of Marketing at BitInstant. He was also the founder and partial owner of the bitcoin gambling website Satoshi Dice, which was ultimately sold in July 2013 to an undisclosed buyer. Under the alias of Beorn Gonthier, he found the instant bitcoin and altcoin exchange ShapeShift.io. He served as a Member of Cryptocurrency Advisory Board at MGT Capital Investments, Inc. since June 14, 2016, until May 2018.

Early Life and Education

Voorhees is originally from Colorado and then later moved to Dubai, Panama, New York City and New Hampshire, becoming a participant in the Free State Project. He attended Vail Mountain School and graduated in 2007 from the University of Puget Sound with a Bachelor’s in Business Leadership and Political Economics.

Voorhees believes the current monetary system has serious systemic problems with counterparty risk, that the Federal Reserve System is “fraudulent” and advocates “the separation of money and state.” He keeps his assets and finances in bitcoin and is an outspoken opponent of taxation though he does file regularly with the IRS as an American citizen.

In September 2012, when presidential candidate Mitt Romney was threatened with blackmail unless he paid an anonymous group $1 million in bitcoin, BitInstant’s Erik Voorhees offered to purchase the bitcoin for him without a fee

Pacabell Ltd.

Voorhees found Pacabell in July 2010. According to their LinkedIn page, Pacabell provides the very best business VoIP solutions, allowing your organization to evolve its hard-wire phone system into a vividly-clear, cost-saving, highly-flexible internet phone system. The best way to understand this new technology is to experience an HD VoIP phone for yourself, in person. Please get in touch and we’ll set up an appointment right away.

BitInstant

Voorhees joined BitInstant as their Head of Marketing. BitInstant was founded in 2011 by Gareth Nelson and Charlie Shrem. The company allowed its customers to purchase the bitcoins via more than 700,000 stores, including Walmart, Walgreens, and Duane Reade.

Coinapult

Voorhees co-founded Coinapult in 2012. Coinapult is one of the leading Bitcoin companies, providing liquidity and secure wallet services for both businesses and consumers. The Coinapult team has been building Bitcoin technology since 2011, providing a secure and easy way to use the Bitcoin platform for everyone – from the newcomer to the seasoned bitcoin veteran.

In 2015, Coinapult integrated with the licensed financial institution, Crypto Capital, in order to bring seamless, bitcoin-friendly banking to our users and business partners. Security is the top priority at Coinapult. Our website is SSL-secured, all wallets are multisignature, and we offer two-factor authentication to all users. Coinapult is headquartered in Panama City, Panama.

SatoshiDice

SatoshiDice is a gambling website which uses the digital currency bitcoin. In 2012, SatoshiDice was the leading bitcoin gambling site in terms of the amount wagered. He was fined by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for an unregistered stock offering related to SatoshiDice. Voorhees conducted a share buyback in addition to paying over $50,000 in penalties.

On 18 July 2013, Erik Voorhees announced that SatoshiDice had been sold for 126,315 BTC, or US$12.4 million at the time of the announcement.

ShapeShift

 

ShapeShift is a company that offers global trading of a variety of digital assets via web and mobile platforms. Erik Voorhees found ShapeShift in 2013 under the alias of Beorn Gonthier. He kept his identity anonymous until revealing his true involvement with the company, as part of a seed funding announcement, in March 2015.

According to Wikipedia, “In March 2015, ShapeShift received a US$525,000 seed-stage investment by Roger Ver and Barry Silbert. Additional funding totaling US$1.6 million had been provided by September 2015, from investors in a second funding round including Digital Currency Group, Bitfinex, Bitcoin Capital and Mardal Investments. In March 2017, ShapeShift has raised $10.4 mln in a series A round led by European venture capital firm Earlybird.”

ShapeShift released initially on the iOS platform in June 2015 allowing their users to swap only 25 cryptocurrencies. However, by September 2015, they had over 40 cryptos available and providing 940 trading pairs.

Handle: https://twitter.com/erikvoorhees

Quotes: 

“We’ve entered a time now where some fiats are far less stable than Bitcoin. Turkish lira plummeting ~20% in one day.”

“Bitcoin is absolutely the Wild West of finance, and thank goodness. It represents a whole legion of adventurers and entrepreneurs, of risk takers, inventors, and problem solvers. It is the frontier. Huge amounts of wealth will be created and destroyed as this new landscape is mapped out.”

“Bitcoin is two things which share a name. One, it’s a payment system, and two, it’s a currency. You use the Bitcoin payment system to send bitcoins as currency from one account holder to another. The transfer is instantaneous, carries no fee, works anywhere in the world, and is private.”

Recommended Interview: 

Michael Novogratz

Michael Novogratz, founder and chief executive officer of Galaxy Digital Capital Management. He has immense faith in Bitcoin and has gone all in on it. In 2013, Novogratz put $7 million of his own money in Bitcoin when it was selling at around $100 a coin. That has now ballooned upto $500 million.

Early Life and Education

Novogratz grew up in Alexandria, Virginia. He is the son of West Point football lineman and 1958 Knute Rockne Award (best lineman) winner Robert, Sr. He attended Fort Hunt High School. He is a 1987 graduate of Princeton University, where he was a member of the wrestling team. He was a Virginia state runner-up in high school wrestling. After college, he served in the U.S. Army National Guard.

Fortress Investments

In March 2002, Novogratz joined Fortress Investments. He joined Wesley Edens, Robert Kauffman, Randal Nardone and Peter Briger, Jr. as they were taking the company public through its February 9, 2007, initial public offering.

The company sold 8% of their shares to the public during the IPO for $600 million. He served as Co-Chief Information Officer of Macro Funds at Fortress Investment Group LLC before becoming the principal and director of Fortress Credit Corporation in 2006.

Galaxy Investment Partners

According to their website, “We invest in people as much as the companies they create. We partner with smart founders who deliver on their ambitions. We look for breakthrough ideas—applications that change century-old industries. And we continuously hunt for innovative companies who accelerate the inevitable growth of the blockchain economy. Galaxy Capital Partners is a global investment management company focused solely on digital assets. One of the first investment firms of its kind, GCP follows a dual-strategy between a hedge fund and venture capital firm, generating outsized returns within the crypto market.”

Handle: https://twitter.com/novogratz

Quotes: 

“The decentralized revolution, which Bitcoin has remained the poster child of, is a response to the breakdown of trust

“On the other hand, when I step back I’m like wait a minute, the whole market cap of all the cryptos is $300 billion dollars. That’s nothing. The NASDAQ at its high in the 1999 bubble was $6 trillion.”

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Anthony Di Iorio

Anthony Di Iorio is one of the co-founders of Ethereum and one of the earliest and influential members of the crypto space. He was active in Toronto’s early blockchain community and in an effort to meet other similiar minded folks, he started the Toronto Bitcoin Meetup group. In the first meeting he met Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin.

Since then he has moved on and found Decentral, an “innovation hub’ in Toronto focused on blockchain projects and he created the popular cryptocurrency wallet Jaxx as well. Recently he purchased the three-story penthouse for $21 million at the St. Regis Residences Toronto, the former Trump International Hotel & Tower in the downtown business district.

Since 2012, Di Iorio has hosted over 100 technology event as well as spoken and keynoted events all over the world. Notable events he has organized include the first Canadian Bitcoin Expo in 2014 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and DEC_TECH events at MaRS Discovery District. In 2015, Anthony became a lecturer for the University of Nicosia’s Master’s program in Digital Currency and advisor at MaRS Fintech Cluster. He is involved in Deloitte’s Exponentials.xyz initiative, is a member of the Bitcoin Speakers Bureau for the Bitcoin Foundation, as well as a member of the Satoshi Roundtable, an annual retreat for the top 50 thought leaders in blockchain technology.

Early Life and Education

Di Iorio did his schooling from Brebeuf College School and then later attended Ryerson University, in Toronto, Ontario, where he studied Marketing and graduated in 1998. After school, he joined his family’s Patio-door business and was also running a geothermal drilling firm. However, after the 2008 financial crisis, he became increasingly worried about the real estate industry. Since then, he started studying Economics to find out how money works and why such crashes happen.

Blockchain Interest and Ethereum

Di Iorio got immensely interested in Bitcoin from the very beginning and wanted to involve himself in it as much as he possibly could. He launched the first in-browser Bitcoin wallet, KryptoKit. In a 2012 Bitcoin Meetup which he hosted, he met Vitalik Buterin and got involved with Ethereum.

He funded Ethereum’s coding and hired their legal counsel from the few hundred thousand that he earned from his prior enterprises. He claims to be blockchain agnostic and has invested in a variety of blockchain projects such as Qtum, Vechain, and Zcash.

Decentral

Founded by Di Iorio in 2014, Decentral describes themselves as an “innovation hub focused on disruptive and decentralized technologies”. Decentral is headquartered in Toronto and focusses on software development. They offered Toronto’s first ever two-way Bitcoin ATM.

They also bring together enthusiasts in blockchain and fintech, cryptocurrencies and decentralized technologies and have hosted over 100 events, becoming a source of networking and information through meetups. They have also partnered with MaRS Discovery District to host larger events including the DEC_TECH series on broader decentralized technologies.

Jaxx

Di Iorio founded Jaxx in 2016.

Jaxx is a multi-token blockchain wallet that provides a unified experience across 9 platforms and devices, including Windows, Apple and Linux desktops, Apple and Android mobile devices and tablets, as well as Google Chrome and Firefox extensions. Jaxx enables crypto-to-crypto buying and selling with frictionless in-wallet conversion. Users are always in control of their keys and we neither hold nor have access to customer funds. Design and user experience driven, and built with simplicity in mind. Their mission is to become the interface to the blockchain world.

Handle: https://twitter.com/diiorioanthony

Quotes: 

“Now I go into a bank, and they’re like, ‘Oh my God, you started Ethereum,’ whereas before they’d say, ‘We can’t give you a bank account.’ Now they come to me.”

“To recognize the potential of this technology is going to be bigger than the Internet. Nothing’s going to stop it. The cat’s out of the bag.”

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Piper Moretti

 

Piper Moretti is the CEO of The Crypto Realty Group, a Los Angeles-based firm specializing in conducting real estate transactions with cryptocurrency and the only realtor in California who has completed 5 bitcoin transactions to date. She is also an advisor in several companies such as the Los Angeles Blockchain Lab, CROP.io, and a member of the Los Angeles chapter of the International Blockchain Real Estate Association.

She is extremely into volunteer work as well. She drives for Meals on Wheels and does volunteering work for various other causes such as animals and women’s rights. Moretti has a. Bachelor’s in Fine Arts from the University of Oklahoma.

With the Crypto Realty Group, you can buy properties locally or internationally with cryptocurrencies.

Handle: https://twitter.com/PiperMoretti

Quotes: 

“Seriously educate yourself on the crypto market. Like I said earlier, I know several agents who brand themselves as “crypto agents” not knowing a thing about it. I know it may be a cool trend right now, but if you end up getting a serious client, you need to be able to have real conversations.

“Have the right people on your side. Going into business for the first time can be scary and expensive. I’ve had “partners” in the past who talked a great game but didn’t want to do the actual work involved to carry it through. Sometimes it’s better to lay the foundation the way you envision THEN invite the players in, that way you’re spending 100% of your energy on your dream rather than having to split that trying motivate the unmotivated.”

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Valery Vavilov

Valery Vavilov is the CEO and founder of The Bitfury Group – the world’s leading full-service blockchain company. Vavilov’s entrepreneurial experience and passion for Blockchain technology led him to found the company in 2011 when blockchain technology was just beginning to capture the world’s attention and imagination.

Early Life and Education

He grew up in Latvia and felt the full brunt of the repercussions from the Soviet Union collapse. He saw his own parents lose all their money. This experience would make a deep impression on him. He received his MS from Riga’s Transport & Telecommunication University in Latvia. Vavilov has spent most of his career in Eastern Europe. He was a Technology Advisor for uzdevumi.lv, Co-Founder and CEO of 212.ua, and Business and Technology Advisor for ex.ua, advideo.ua, and allroll.biz. Prior to founding Bitfury, Vavilov spent more than 15 years in a variety of technical and leadership positions.

After going through his childhood struggles, he was inspired by blockchain technology. He believed that the blockchain technology and cryptocurrency had the potential to improve the lives of people all over the world.

Bitfury

In 2011, Vavilov found Bitfury and acts as its CEO. The Bitfury Group is the largest full-service blockchain technology company in the world. They aim to develop and deliver cutting-edge software and hardware solutions necessary for businesses, governments, organizations, and individuals to securely move assets across the blockchain.

Vavilov first focused first on the hardware solutions that would ensure security and trust in the Bitcoin Blockchain, leading Bitfury to develop five generations of cutting-edge mining chips and state-of-the-art data center designs.

Under his uncompromising leadership and vision, the company has expanded its focus to provide custom-designed software, consulting solutions, and advanced hardware, all while maintaining its position as one of the major public Bitcoin Blockchain security and transaction providers.

They are a 400-person company based in Amsterdam and have positioned themselves as the ultimate pick-and-shovel operation to the blockchain gold rush. Besides being a Bitcoin mining leader, it also makes and sells hardware, including processor chips and a product called Blockbox, a mobile bitcoin mining machine. Bitfury is on track to bring in $400 million in revenues in 2018.

Handle: https://twitter.com/valeryvavilov

Quotes: 

“It is not too late for an individual, business or even country to begin mining. The industry is still growing as more and more people use Bitcoin. And the future looks as promising as the present, as miners will move away from block rewards and into transaction fees, which will encourage even more to begin Bitcoin mining. We offer our cutting edge 16-nanometer chip and our enterprise-grade BlockBox, which allows you to almost immediately plug into the Bitcoin Blockchain and begin mining.”

“Our discussions with Ukraine started in late 2016. Given the success we have found with land titling and now broader e-governance in our partnership with the Republic of Georgia, we are happy to expand to another government serving more than 45 mln people. Our goal is to bring the entire country’s e-governance system to Blockchain, including existing e-services and government services that still need to be digitized.”

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