Jeff Fawkes is a seasoned investment professional and a crypto analyst. He has a dual degree in Business Administration and Creative Writing and is passionate when it comes to how technology impacts our society.
According to many Bitcoin proponents, crypto is bulletproof thanks to the blockchain. However, the industry’s famous players quite often have the power to influence prices and opinions.
The outsiders may believe fancy Telegram graphs showing Bitcoin‘s decentralization levels and metrics. However, many of that stats supply data from a parallel reality. Because you cannot claim full decentralization when the majority of the industry is maintained by the same three to five companies. The will of the investors, not the cyberpunk spirit, changes the price of coins or destroys companies.
There are at least seven influential people in the crypto space, including investors and educators. They have enough power to substantially change the price of mainstream coins. Let us take a look at the list.
Xiaolai Li is a famous Chinese Bitcoin investor. He is behind projects like EOS, MANNA, PressOne, QTUM, recently hacked VeChain, etc. Many of the blockchain projects you thought were independent gained traction thanks to the venture capital of this man. He is referred to as a Chinese blockchain godfather.
His substantial investments helped projects claiming decentralization or consensus through different protocols. Those include PoW, PoS, DPoS, and others. He is famous for leaking a series of dark secrets in July 2018 during a wiretapped telephone call. Li explains to someone that Binance is a “scam exchange”, which gained popularity thanks to the Chinese official’s selective hunt on exchanges.
He continued to NEO which is a “worthless project”. Li claimed that investors believed in shiny promises and bought into nonsense. The founder of NEO Da Hongfei holds a very little amount of NEO, according to Li.
He also describes a way of performing sophisticated investment fraud. His plan includes using celebrity status to promote scam projects. Newbie investors and the retail public should buy-in the hype. Then, Li “cuts leeks”, because as he says there are a ton of projects with tokens that backed by literally nothing.
Li’s crypto investment company BitFund is one of the biggest VC companies fueling the space.
Barry Silbert is considered a huge investor in Bitcoin, Ethereum Classic and a bunch of other coins. He is the owner of the news website CoinDesk. Barry is the head of Digital Currency Group. And the DCG is a group of companies that constitute a large part of the blockchain space. If you think of it, Barry may “own half the industry”.
He is using CoinDesk to promote Ethereum Classic and expose Buterin‘s mistakes. However, do not think that Barry and Vitalik are in a real war. The more probable scenario is that they just play a game with the audience of incoming traders. The war between ETH, ETC may be orchestrated, as well as the war between BTC and BCH.
Roger Ver is a major investor behind many of the early crypto projects. Despite Bitcoin Core proponents and the so-called “BTC maximalists” call Roger a bad person and the enemy of Bitcoin, he is one of the biggest advocates and also investors of Bitcoin. He is now supporting Bitcoin Cash, Zcash and several other assets.
Roger is a great orator, he can present himself and persuade. But he is usually introvert while on the parties. Instead of getting drunk and dancing with other blockchain business folks, Roger prefers to sit with his notebook and read e-mails. He is one of the very few persons of such size who answer e-mails in 12 hours. Roger can give advice or even a job, help promote crypto products.
He always packs his thoughts with a bunch of unbeatable facts. Uses his public speaking talent to convince people to join the Bitcoin Cash drift. He is one of a few people who can beat “smallblockers” with extraordinary facts in debates, using BCH and different blockchains as the ground of his views. Ver lives in a Japanese apartment and is practicing martial arts.
Erik is CEO of ShapeShift, and he tends to support all of the coins because he is running a service that is depending on the token exchange market. That’s why he supported both ETC and BCH forks.
First, ShapeShift worked as an anonymous means of exchange of one coin for another. After regulatory pressure, Erik Voorhees had introduced KYC procedures. Mainstream press outlets such as The Wall Street Journal published accusations that ShapeShift laundered criminal money.
But Erik Voorhees claimed his service was not as involved as the article says. Voorhees noted that even if a small part of the exchange’s volume belongs to teenage hackers, the majority of the funds are legal. Also, the volume that was laundered is significantly tinier than the volume of funds washed by American mainstream banks. They were laundering much more of the criminal cash over the same period.
Voorhees is a friend of Roger Ver and Barry Silbert. Despite these three may play different roles in the crypto field, they still do the same thing. Specifically, men promote cryptocurrencies, foster competition, adoption and creation of work opportunities for people living in areas with a bad economy.
Andreas is known as the “Bitcoin guru”. He is an author of “Mastering Bitcoin” and “Mastering Ethereum” books, a public speaker and an educator. He spends much of his time promoting Bitcoin and travels around the world to gather large audiences. During the speaking, Andreas explores the good and bad sides of crypto, the impact on society, and tech details. Andreas likes to pack his speech with jokes.
Andreas is well known for avoiding bribes. When it comes to a war between coins, Andreas usually takes a neutral position and allows the things flow. He can give a detailed technical analysis of what has happened. But Andreas deliberately avoids going into politics or preferences.
Many tried seducing him to promote shitcoins in exchange for large sums ranging from $25,000 to $250,000. However, it is very hard to bribe Andreas to put his name on a bad project or assist in a crime.
Andreas is a prominent writer with a huge fanbase. He has a collection of nerdy perks. Gathered over 2 million dollars in Bitcoin donations. His connections across the globe can scare the crap out of any high-level accountant working for Yakuza. Joe Rogan invited Andreas to join his Podcast and discuss cryptocurrencies’ biggest flaws and benefits. So eventually, when you need balanced information without coin shilling and such, watch Antonopoulos YouTube channel.
Adam Back is a professional financial cryptographer, Bitcoin Core developer and CEO of Blockstream. He is mentioned in the original Bitcoin Whitepaper written by the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto. Back is known as the inventor of cryptographic protocol HashCash, a modern proof of work scheme that is used in Bitcoin and several other brilliant software pieces.
Interestingly, he is one of the leading Bitcoin developers and the CEO of Blockstream. A controversial company that gained trust across space but not among people who keep pointing on a conflict of interests. Several Blockstream developers are working as Bitcoin developers. The solutions needed for Bitcoin’s development somehow became Blockstream-dependant. According to researchers, Back had a leading role in receiving investments for Blockstream, ASINQ, and eclair, including money from Bitfinex. In his Twitter, Adam actively supported USDT and Bitfinex. He compares them to mainstream banks and uses BFX to promote his products. This works for years. Presumably, because major bitcoin holders don’t care where the price rise comes from until it keeps happening.
Wladimir J. van der Laan
He is the Bitcoin’s GitHub maintainer who can appoint other maintainers. He has over 5000 commits in the code, which makes him one of the most attentive developers. The mysterious man didn’t visit any major blockchain conferences. He lives somewhere in the Netherlands and is joining meet-ups and conferences via voice calls.
Some people say that he has the ultimate control over the network’s code. Without his permission, developers cannot add new code to the main repository. Wladimir is a character with the power to appoint the developers with commit access keys. There are typically five virtual thrones.
Friedrich Nietzsche’s Will to Power and Leadership Theories
We have to admit that strong characters are still playing key roles. In the history of Bitcoin and altcoin development, decentralization didn’t even start. Without key persons, the most ‘decentralized’ blockchains will go into oblivion.
Nietzsche is the “unofficial”, dark philosopher, pagan and trickster. He appears to be a classic immoral life-hacker, pointing on the role of strong will in the life of persons and nations.
According to Nietzsche, it’s bad to agree on everything. Progress is possible thanks to big people, their will and fight for changes. He claims that it is not the empires, but separate spirits changed the world’s history. Nietzsche wrote that without passion, talent and wisdom, everything is inevitably boring and collapsing.
When we say that Bitcoin has huge hash power, the whole idea is opposition to fiat money and leadership. A set of improvements held by blockchain provide incentives to continue the war for the remittance market. But the ideas need people who can spread them, investors and coders. So the industry is highly dependable on that kind of people, not on the “hash power” or the “blockchain”.
It’s the people who stand behind research, promotion, and installation of the mining software, rigs, and farms. Look at TON blockchain, it can handle millions of transactions per second thanks to Dr. Nikolai Durov. Monero depends on Ricardo Spagni and Moneromoo, and Cardano looks abandoned without Charles Hoskinson. Many coins depend on people who do the next code release or coordinating development. So Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash are highly dependable too. Computers are getting faster and the old crypto protocols must be rewritten.
The Leadership is Taken By Strong Industry Players
People believe in automated dApps, DAOs, ICOs, DEXes and “stablecoins”, while most of those projects lie. Young investors read price predictions and stare at weird graphs made by people who do not know what they teach about. But when we look closer at almost any DEX or a trading channel, we see a high influence of humans and their errors. Most of the exchange hacks happened thanks to human errors of a different kind.
This is a big problem for the future. People desire to achieve privacy over convenience, this is a clear demand. Waiting for some kind of a “decentralized community” to appear by itself? This means you don’t understand human psychology. Yes, democracy delusion is the same as decentralization one. Without direct, substantial leadership efforts, the industry will not have traction, financial incentives, and development.