Today, bitcoin has a number of identies. From being touted as a digital currency for “criminals” and money for “nerds”, to a power-consuming system, the most popular and world’s largest cryptocurrency has gradually entered the mainstream business and financial world.
Whiles some restaurants and other local businesses are accepting BTC as means of payments, other companies and startups are building the backbone for mainstream adoption of the cryptocurrency.
Behind the price hype, the mainstream adoption stories, and the high power consumption claims, there are people that keep the space on its toes. With either their riches or influence in the crypto market, these people drive, in part, what happens to bitcoin.
What they talk about becomes news, and what they post on social media gets passed around the crypto world as a gospel of sorts.
Today, we chronicle 5 of the richest and most influential people in bitcoin, and the other cryptocurrency and blockchain projects they have come to love and endorse.
The Winklevoss Twins
Image Source: Forbes.com
Popularity: Bitcoin Investment and Crypto Startup Community
The Forbes’ Richest People in Cryptocurrency list puts the 36 years old twins at number four, with a net worth of between $900 million to $1.1 billion. Though the Forbes list focused on their investments in other spheres of the crypto world, the two brothers, nevertheless, are highly involved in bitcoin – both in investment and influence.
Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss bought BTC in 2012, a time when only a handful of people were involved in the cryptocurrency. Their $11 million investment during that time was reported to constitute one percent of the total bitcoins in circulation. Today, that’s a huge sum, reported to be worth about $1.3 billion. They have also been heavily involved in the community, and recently applied for a Bitcoin Exchange Traded Fund (ETF), which was rejected by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Other projects by Winklevoss Twins:
Founders of Winklevoss Capital and the cryptocurrency exchange Gemini. The brothers found Winklevoss Capital in 2012. The New York-based firm invests in different asset classes and has had huge investments in digital assets and blockchain startups, including ChangeCoin, Earn.com, Tezos, and many others. They also founded the digital asset exchange Gemini, which allows anyone to buy, sell, and store digital assets.
Image Source: U.Today
Popularity: Investment and Cryptocurrency Startup Community.
Tony Gallippi is one of the earliest investors in bitcoin. Today, it is reported that Gallippi is among the largest holders of the cryptocurrency. Rough estimates put his holdings at $20 million, though he has not unveiled the precise amount he possesses.
His involvement in the community has been tremendous, speaking at tech conferences about the price of the cryptocurrency and its investment, as well as being invited by the U.S. Senate in November 2013 to speak about financial markets and bitcoin. Aside from his investment and involvement in bitcoin, Gallippi is a major player in the cryptosphere.
Other Projects by Gallippi:
Tony Gallippi is the co-founder of Bitpay, a crypto processing platform established in 2011. Today, Bitpay is the most widely used crypto payment processor in the world, handling over 20,000 merchants across 38 countries. Apart from helping bring BTC to the mainstream business world, Gallippi has also extensively participated in the community.
Image source: huffingtonpost.com
Popularity: Developer Community
After successfully launching bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto entrusted the Bitcoin Code to Gavin, who is touted as the man behind bitcoin’s success today. Though many initially believed Gavin was Satoshi Nakamoto, the developer has denied all claims, but made it clear that he had closely communicated with the pseudonymous developer until 2010. Gavin received about $200,000 a year in BTC as payment for his contribution to the Bitcoin Foundation. Adding that to his undisclosed BTC ownership means that Satoshi’s successor is a bitcoin millionaire, rumoured to be holding approximately $2 million in the cryptocurrency.
Other engagements of Gavin Andresen
Although Andresen left his position as bitcoin’s lead developer in 2014 to join the Bitcoin Foundation as a Chief Scientist, he is lately critical of Bitcoin Core, asserting that the developers don’t “listen to the public”. While his support is now inclined towards Bitcoin Classic, Andresen’s voice in the space is still strong, and he has some BTC to his name as well. Gavin has also worked with MIT’s Digital Currency Initiative and has spoken in blockchain and crpyto conferences around the world.
Image Source: www.bloomberg.com
Popularity: Bitcoin and crypto investment community.
When it comes to the love for bitcoin, Roger Ver is one of the first and most notable. He invested heavily in the cryptocurrency and championed it to rival fiat currencies, earning him the name “Bitcoin Jesus”. From his first investment in BitInstant, his close friend Charlie Shrem’s company, to this day, Roger Ver has unflinchingly backed BTC, invested in startups in this space, and advocating the use of the world’s largest cryptocurrency.
Though Ver was already a millionaire before investing in cryptocurrencies, his crypto wealth is reported to be somewhere between $50 and $52 million.
Other Engagements by the Bitcoin Jesus
Roger Ver’s engagement in the cryptocurrency and blockchain space is enormous. He is the owner and CEO of Bitcoin.com, he is among the five founders of the Bitcoin Foundation, was a proponent of a larger block size for the Bitcoin Network, championed the development of Bitcoin XT as a hard fork mechanism towards block size increment, and has endorsed many projects. Among some of the projects that he has endorsed, invested in or serves as an advisor include Azbit Crypto Exchange, MoneyToken, Kraken, LocalBitcoins, Bitpay, Bitstamp, Blockchain.Info, XinFin, and many other companies.
Image Source: Bitcoinist.com
Popularity: Education, Advocacy, Development, and Adoption
Andreas Antonopoulos might not be a filthy rich bitcoin holder or investor in startups, but if you’re in this space, then you probably know the name. From books, university lectures, and student meetups, to conferences and government boards, Andreas is one of the best-known advocates of the cryptocurrency, digital currencies, and the blockchain, and his influence in the space is well established.
Andreas served on the Bitcoin Foundation’s anti-poverty committee and later resigned in 2014 over agreements of lack of transparency among the team. He has also written a book on BTC titled Mastering Bitcoin (First and Second Editions).
Other activities by Andreas Antonopoulos.
Antonopoulos joined Blockchain.info as a CSO, and then after moved to an advisory position. He has also advised governments on how bitcoin should be regulated, talked about its revolutionary impact in conferences, and written some books beyond the cryptocurrency, including The Internet of Money (Volumes 1 and 2) and the yet to be launched Mastering Ethereum.
Bonus Influencer and the Only Bitcoin Billionaire:
Image Source: news.bitzamp.com
As far as the world knows, there are no bitcoin billionaires. But since Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of the cryptocurrency is rumored to have about between 980,00 and 1 million BTC, this pseudonymous creator could be the only BTC-billionaire in the world.
Though Satoshi Nakamoto left Bitcoin’s development to Gavin Andreessen and disappeared, the world has not stopped thinking about and searching for the creator of the cryptocurrency. Guesses have been made, digital footprints have been analyzed, stylometrics has been employed, and theories imagined, of who bitcoin’s creator is, but to no avail. Even though the search is still on and ‘he’ or ‘she’ or ‘they’ have yet to be identified, Satoshi Nakamoto is still popular and influential in the community and rich in the cryptocurrency as well.
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