A pseudonymous genius known as Satoshi authored the Bitcoin whitepaper in the early 1990s, forever changing the world as we know it. And if you thought the 2010s were crazy, the 2020s are going to be even crazier.
After dropping below $4k in March ’20 to charging past $63k little over a year later and subsequently tumbling amid a bear market, digital gold has remained the industry’s White Whale, captivating, bewildering and exasperating investors alike. The industry has grown much larger than Bitcoin these days. It’s a fast-growing, always-changing ecosystem that encompasses endless altcoins, stunning metaverses, gamified NFTs, and lucrative DeFi protocols. The industry has been declared dead more times than Rasputin, but it keeps going.
Keeping one’s finger on the pulse can be a full-time job with so much going on. The movers and shakers of the industry, those key investors and influencers who almost always seem to be ahead of the curve, are worth monitoring. From now until 2030, the following pioneers will be leading the way in crypto.
1. Charles Read, Web3 Investor
Rarestone Capital co-founder Charles Read has been investing in the web-3 space in a big way, from bootstrapping blockchain gaming ventures like Alien Worlds and FOAD to buying Mike Tyson and DJ Premier exclusive NFTs. 28-year-old Read, who is an avid gamer and crypto-art collector, is working on a podcast about the world of web3, as well as being the subject of an upcoming documentary.
2. Cobie, Trader/Influencer
Cobie (formerly Crypto Cobie) is one of the biggest personalities on Crypto Twitter. A major league bag holder, arch memelord, and insightful analyst/commentator, he also co-hosts the UpOnly podcast series alongside good pal Ledger (Vitalik Buterin was a recent guest). A font of knowledge with a wicked sense of humour, Cobie will amass a million followers this decade (current number: 723k) irrespective of the industry’s performance.
3. Banteg, Yearn Finance OG
One of the few DeFi influencers who hasn’t sold their soul, Banteg has yet to be caught shilling vaporware or promoting dubious ponzis. Known for his ability to decode ETH data and read the tea leaves surrounding the ETH merger, the pseudo-anon made his name with Yearn Finance. As opinionated as he is principled, Banteg is that rare thing: a flickering flame of hope that suggests DeFi hasn’t lost its way.
4. Elena Nadolinski, Iron Fish Founder
Given authorities’ ongoing assault on privacy (see the recent Tornado Cash sanctions), the founder of decentralised privacy platform Iron Fish, will have her work cut out in the years ahead. The Russia-born Elena Nadolinski is committed to countering the hawkish actions of our surveillance-obsessed overlords – and for that we should be grateful. A software developer and engineer by trade, Elena was recently recognised for her talents with a berth on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list.
5. Hasu, Angel Investor
A prolific investor, researcher, writer and podcast host (Uncommon Core), Hasu is one of CT’s most technically-minded accounts: a guy who can wax lyrical about liquid staking, block subsidies, MEV, EIPs and everything in between. Hasu appears destined to be in the thick of things as the 2020s wear on, as he works at research and development outfit Flashbots and works part time for web3 investor Paradigm.
6. Martin Köppelmann, Gnosis CEO
As the founder and figurehead of decentralised prediction market platform Gnosis, the first dApp to go live on Ethereum, Martin Köppelmann wields enormous influence in the cryptosphere. He is also heavily involved in the blockchain-based Universal Basic Income (UBI) project Circles, which aims to evolve into a “living democratic economy.” Köppelmann recently predicted that price-finding for global forex markets, including the Ruble, Yuan, and Rupee, will happen on Ethereum. Whether that forecast comes to pass, Köppelmann’s always worth listening to.
7. Agustin Mendez, Decentraland CTO
Virtual playground Decentraland was one of the prime movers in the metaverse space, and with a patch of real estate selling for $2.4m last year, many investors believe it has the legs to keep on running. As the platform’s Chief Technology Officer, and having worked on the project since 2018, Agustin Mendez will be a major taste-maker as the metaverse matures. The programmer might maintain a low profile on socials, but he could just be our best hope of seeing off Meta/Facebook’s plans for VR domination.
8. Pentoshi, Trader
The market analyst and trader who goes by the pseudonymous moniker Pentoshi must be doing something right: he has amassed nearly 600k followers in just three years, many of whom depend on him for sage portfolio advice. In April of 2021, Pentoshi made headlines for revealing he had sold the Bitcoin top, cementing his position as a cool head in a hot environment.
9. Elizabeth Stark, Lightning Labs CEO
Elizabeth Stark is the big boss at Bitcoin scaling layer Lightning Labs, and with scaling being the complaint most often lobbed at crypto’s dominant digital asset, she has a massive role to play in the future of the currency. Earlier this year, the California-based firm she heads up raised $70m in a funding round led by Valor Equity Partners and Baillie Gifford, as it seeks to turn Bitcoin into a network capable of transacting billions in volume each year. If you’re not already following Stark, what are you even doing?
10. Benyamin Ahmed, NFT Wunderkind
The fact that Benyamin Ahmed became a millionaire in his teens earns him a place on this list. The 12-year-old’s entrepreneurial moxie shone through when he created a range of Minecraft characters then put them up for sale on OpenSea. This venture proved to be a nonstarter, so the student quickly moved on to another: Weird Whales. In Benyamin’s first drop, these nifty NFTs sold like hotcakes, netting him $160k. His expertise in NFTs comes from his teaching at Oxford University.
Do you think these ten figures will set the trend for this decade? Is there a trailblazer who casts a shadow over all of them that we have failed to honor? Let us know what you think in the comments.