Bitcoin.com is presents the top ten most influential people in Bitcoin history to date.
Also read: Top 10 Biggest Bitcoin Villains to Date
Top 10 Most Influential People in Bitcoin
While many people still associate the word “Bitcoin” with cyber crime and the black market, its underlying technology has been decades in the making, forged and maintained by some of the most brilliant minds the world has ever seen.
The following list was compiled by our team at Bitcoin.com and is our consensus opinion on the people who have had the most impact on the Bitcoin space to date. Besides spreading information on the benefits of Bitcoin and strengthening its infrastructure, extra weight was given to those who have had direct involvement in the maintenance, development, and creation of the Bitcoin ecosystem as a whole.
10. Pieter Wuille
Pieter Wuille discovered Bitcoin in November 2010 and joined the Bitcoin Core development team in May 2011. He is now only behind fellow Core developer, Wladimir van der Laan, with over 650 commits on Github to the Bitcoin code. He was responsible for Bitcoin Improvement Proposals (BIP) 30, 32, 42, and 62, and is the primary author of libsecp256k1, a library for efficient elliptic curve cryptography for use in Bitcoin.
Wuille worked as a Site Reliability Engineer at Google before joining Blockstream, an organization established to fast-track development in open assets and smart contracts related to Bitcoin. Growing up in Belgium, he received his Ph.D. in Computer Science at the University of Leuven, where he focused on programming language design.
9. Barry Silbert
Barry Silbert has been one of the most active angel investors in Bitcoin to date. He is the Founder of Digital Currency Group, a company that focuses on developing Bitcoin infrastructure by investing, starting, and growing companies in the Bitcoin space. He has injected funds into over 40 Bitcoin-related startups through via his Bitcoin Opportunity Corp., with investments in such companies as BitGo, BitPay, BitPagos, BitPesa, Chain, Circle, Coinbase, Gyft, Kraken, Ripple, TradeBlock, Unocoin, Keza, and Bitwala.
Excited to announce our investment in South Africa-based Custos which uses bitcoin bounties to combat digital piracy https://t.co/3bCqBQCHPA
— Barry Silbert (@barrysilbert) April 8, 2016
Silbert is also responsible for launching the Bitcoin Investment Trust, whose shares under the ticker GBTC are the first publicly quoted securities solely invested in and deriving value from the price of bitcoin. BIT gives investors the chance to benefit from bitcoin price movement through a traditional investment vehicle, without the challenges of buying, storing, and safekeeping bitcoins.
8. Roger Ver
Roger Ver was the first person in the world to start investing in Bitcoin startups, helping fund the seed rounds for the entire first generation of Bitcoin businesses, almost solely by himself. Also known in the community as “Bitcoin Jesus,” Ver believes that Bitcoin technology is the perfect fit for voluntaryism, the idea that all human interactions should be by mutual consent, or not at all.
In 2011, his company, Memorydealers, became the first mainstream company to start accepting bitcoin as payment. He also launched Bitcoinstore.com, the first website in the world that accepted bitcoin as payment and. Later, Ver created Bitcoinbountyhunter.com, which rewards people for helping catch cyber criminals in the Bitcoin space. He has been a vocal critic of online Bitcoin community censorship on reddit, offering his own censorship-free alternative to discuss cryptocurrency related topics.
Recently, Ver issued a $100,000 USD challenge to presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. If he agrees to debate Iraq veteran and anti-war activist Adam Kokesh, Ver will split $100,000 USD between Sanders and Kokesh, donating $50,000 USD each to a charity of their choice.
7. Patrick Byrne
Often referred to as “Bitcoin Messiah” and the “Scourge of Wall Street” in the press, Patrick Byrne is the CEO of e-retailer giant Overstock.com and has always been an unconventional figure in the corporate world. His company was the first major retailer to accept bitcoin as payment long before Microsoft and Dell, and Byrne has been an active proponent of the cryptocurrency since. He is a firm believer that Wall Street will be forced to accept Bitcoin technology faster than most people think.
“If you’re working in this world of Bitcoin and Wall Street, there’s going to be a lot of haters. But there’s such incentives for somebody to defect and join us,” he told the crowd at the 2015 blockchain conference in San Diego. “And I think you’re going to see that happen in 2016 en masse. And once it starts happening, it’s going to happen quickly.”
The CEO is also responsible for launching T0, a company that aims to revolutionize the financial industry with blockchain technology, “making transactions more equitable, transparent and accessible to all market participants.” Just recently, however, Byrne announced that he will be taking a leave of absence due to a medical condition, causing many experts to wonder if this will slow the adoption of blockchain technology.
6. Andreas Antonopoulos
Andreas M. Antonopoulos is a technologist, entrepreneur and an engaging public speaker, who makes Bitcoin easier to understand for the average Joe. He has been a prolific proponent of cryptocurrencies in general, speaking in front of large crowds at numerous technology and security conference around the globe.
In one of his speeches, he explained:
For the ‘other 6 billion’ who don’t enjoy international, control-free banking as we do, Bitcoin represents an opportunity to become part of a global economy which up till now did not exist. For those users, Bitcoin is more than just a curiosity, it might be a doorway to connect to the world.
Antonopoulos is also the author of “Mastering Bitcoin,” a technical guide to understanding Bitcoin, and has been a popular guest on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. He also advises numerous startups, and even appeared before the Canadian Senate to help them evaluate the best regulatory approach.
He is largely known to use the phrase “The Internet of Money” as early as 2013, to describe Bitcoin. Antonopoulos has launched several community open-source projects and is a widely published author of Bitcoin-related articles as well as a permanent host on the Let’s Talk Bitcoin podcast.
5. Adam Back
Adam Back is a pioneer in cryptography and has worked on e-cash protocols since 1995. His inventions include hashcash proof-of-work and decentralized mining functions used in Bitcoin. Hashcash has also been used in a number of other protocols, such as combating blog spam. Back also worked as a developer at Zero-Knowledge Systems on its Freedom network, which was a precursor to Tor.
He has been an active member of the Bitcoin community, frequently commenting on issues such as scalability, privacy, and mining technology. Today, Back is the CCO at Spondoolies Tech Ltd. and the president of Blockstream. In February 2016, Blockstream closed a $55 million USD series A funding round to advance its vision and technology, including its working sidechain prototype, Liquid.
4. Gavin Andresen
Gavin Andresen is one of the most prominent and vocal members of the Bitcoin community who has collaborated directly with Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto in developing its source code. He has access to the alert key that allows him to broadcast messages about critical network problems to all Bitcoin clients. Satoshi Nakamoto handed over control of the source code repository and the alert key to Andresen before disappearing from public view.
“Bitcoin is designed to bring us back to a decentralized currency of the people,” explained Andresen, in a 2011 Forbes article. “This is like better gold than gold.”
Andresen stepped aside as lead developer of Bitcoin in April 2014 to focus on broader issues as Chief Scientist of the Bitcoin Foundation, an organization that standardizes and promotes the use of Bitcoin across the globe. Recently, however, Andresen has been critical of Bitcoin Core, saying that the developers are “not listening to the public.” As a result, Andresen has shifted his support to Bitcoin Classic, an alternative Bitcoin protocol that would increase the block size limit from 1 to 2MB.
3. Hal Finney
Hal Finney was not only renowned cryptographic activist, but also a Bitcoin pioneer. In 2004, Finney created the first reusable proof-of-work system before Bitcoin. In 2009, he took part in the first ever Bitcoin transaction, receiving bitcoin sent by Satoshi Nakamoto. In addition to being a regular poster on the cypherpunks listserv, he also ran a successful contest to break the export-grade encryption used by Netscape.
Finney worked as a developer for the PGP corporation until his retirement in 2011. He continued to program until his death in 2014, however, working on experimental software called bcflick, which uses Trusted Computing to improve Bitcoin wallet security. He was cryopreserved based on a previous agreement with the Alcor Life Extension Foundation.
2. Nick Szabo
Nick Szabo is a computer scientist, legal scholar and cryptographer known for his research in digital contracts and digital currency. He designed a mechanism for a decentralized digital currency called “bit gold” in 1998. But while this pioneering digital currency did not gain much support at the time, it did help bring about the advent of Bitcoin some ten years later. He is also credited with coining the term “smart contracts.”
Although he has repeatedly denied it, many have speculated that Szabo is Satoshi Nakamoto himself. “I’m afraid you got it wrong doxing me as Satoshi, but I’m used to it,” he told one financial author who claimed that Szabo “is only one person in the whole world that has the sheer breadth but also the specificity of knowledge” to be Bitcoin’s creator.
Unlike Satoshi, however, Szabo has appeared in public such as in 2015 at Devcon1 in London. At the event, Szabo discussed where he thinks Bitcoin technology is headed, explaining how cryptography “and in particular Ethereum” can help solve some of the world’s biggest problems today.
1. Satoshi Nakamoto
While there has been much speculation on the real identity behind Bitcoin’s creator, the pseudonym has been used to mask the real identity behind Satoshi Nakamoto. This person could be a man, woman or even a group of people. We will probably never know the truth.
What’s more important, however, is that this technology cannot be un-invented. Thus, even if you believe that Satoshi was a secret CIA program to bring about a global currency for the new world order, it cannot be denied that Bitcoin opened the floodgates for decentralized, P2P money (among other applications) that is not controlled by the government or central banks.
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.
Therefore, Satoshi Nakamoto undoubtedly takes the number one spot for the most influential people in Bitcoin, regardless of who he, she or they might really be.
(Honorable Mentions: Elizabeth Rossiello, Balaji Srinivasan, Ross Ulbricht, Vitalik Buterin, Max Keiser, Brian Forde, Erik Voorhees)
Do you agree with this list? What other influential people would you add? Let us know in the comments section below!
Images courtesy of twitter, businessinsider, linkedin, digitalistmag.com
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