The 2017 year was dedicated to the explosive growing popularity of the cryptocurrency market and the rapid development of blockchain technology. We decided to recall key players of the past year; those who have made the most significant contribution to the development of this industry.
Satoshi Nakamoto, the founder of Bitcoin and creator of unique Bitcoin client, heads the list of the most influential people who have made the greatest contributions to the crypto industry over 2017. Under recent evaluation of Quartz, nowadays Satoshi Nakamoto may have from 980,000 to 1 million bitcoins. In December, bitcoin's anonymous creator would have had $19.4 billion or have been the 44th richest person in the world. If bitcoin does become a global currency, Satoshi Nakamoto probably would be the wealthiest man in the world. But who is hiding under the pseudonym of Satoshi Nakamoto is still not known.
What we do know is that White Paper "Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System" was published under the pseudonym of Satoshi Nakamoto on October 31, 2008. This White Paper described the fully decentralized system of electronic cash, which did not require any third party. The profile on the website of the P2P Foundation says that Satoshi Nakamoto is a 42-year-old citizen of Japan, and provides the link to bitcoin.org. At the end of 2010, Satoshi announced that he was leaving to deal with "more important things." Since then there was no activity on behalf of Satoshi Nakamoto. This is all information that could be considered reliable; the rest is speculation and guesswork. The most popular versions of who is actually behind the name of Satoshi Nakamoto are the following:
Nick Szabo – a scientist in the field of computer science, cryptography, and law, as well as a researcher of smart contracts and cryptocurrency.
Charlie Lee – the creator of Litecoin.
Neal King, Vladimir Oksman, and Charles Bry – the authors of the patent application, called "Updating and distributing encryption keys."
Michael Klare – a graduate of cryptography in College of Dublin.
Hal Finney – a cryptography specialist.
Dorian Nakamoto – a citizen of the United States (California) of Japanese origin.
Craig Wright – an Australian businessman.
Elon Musk – a famous billionaire, head of Tesla and Space X, and a member of the Board at SolarCity—joined the list too.
All of them, except Craig Wright, deny their belonging to the first cryptocurrency. Perhaps, it is an excellent piece of news for the crypto market because Nakamoto holds 5% of all bitcoins. So, Nakamoto, if desired, could significantly affect the bitcoin rate and crypto market.
Nick Szabo is a famous cryptography specialist and a researcher in theoretical computer science. It was he who first introduced the concept of "smart contract " in 1996, which allows sharing assets without resorting to third parties. In 1998, Szabo designed a mechanism for a decentralized digital currency and called it "bit gold." It is not surprising that many participants of crypto market consider him Satoshi Nakamoto.
Last November, Szabo and a researcher Elaine Ou introduced a working method of sending Bitcoin transactions over radio signals. This method was introduced at the Scaling Bitcoin Conference in San Francisco as a way to protect the network from potential attacks of firewalls, network gateways, or other ways to control decentralized networks that can be used by states or telecommunications companies.
Charlie Lee is the second most popular candidate for the title of "true" Satoshi Nakamoto. In 2011, he developed one of the first altcoins, Litecoin, which appeared as a result of fork in the Bitcoin network. People are speculating that Litecoin may be "the silver to bitcoin's gold." In 2013, Lee took up the position of technical director at Coinbase, a major cryptocurrency platform. But in 2017, he decided to leave the company to focus on Litecoin promotion.
Over the year, the cryptocurrency rate grew up by more than ten times, and today stands at $255. In December, Charlie Lee announced that he had sold all his Litecoins so that nobody could accuse him of affecting the price fluctuations. He stressed that he was not going to leave the project and would continue to devote all his time to this work.
Vitalik Buterin is the co-founder of one of the largest cryptocurrency projects, Ethereum, and its native cryptocurrency, namely ether. In 2013, Buterin published cryptocurrency White Paper built on the blockchain, where users can use smart contracts that provide them with many unique opportunities.
From the beginning of the year, the ether rate increased 57 times, and Buterin joined the rating of the American Forbes "30 under 30." Bloomberg included Buterin in the list of the 50 most influential people in 2017, and the Russian Forbes included him in the list of the 100 most influential Russians of the century.
Last year, Buterin became one of the few entrepreneurs who met with President Putin during the St. Petersburg Economic Forum. The details of the conversation are not revealed, but after this meeting, Russian authorities made U-turn on blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, calling blockchain an interesting technology worthy of attention. Moreover, it became known that Ethereum was going to launch a joint project with Vnesheconombank (VEB); Sberbank joined an international project Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA), which already involves more than 200 companies, and became the first Russian Bank at EEA.
Tony Weiss—a bitcoin trader and investor and Ex-Vice President at JPMorgan Chase—is well known in crypto community. Weiss has been considered one of the first blockchain evangelists promoting technology to the masses since 2013. He has a successful blog, a podcast, the Youtube Channel, and more than 80,000 followers on Twitter. CoinTelegraph often publishes his comments and materials. Additionally, in 2014, Weiss became the Head of Research at BraveNewCoin.
According to the Weiss' research that was published in last September and is based on the exponential growth of bitcoin users, by the end of 2018, bitcoin price has the potential to surpass the $100,000 mark. Previously, Weiss stated that, by the end of 2017, bitcoin would cross the $15,000 mark, which we did observe on December 17. Weiss openly criticizes the modern mechanisms of raising funds through the ICO, as 90% of ICO projects are "just hype."
Roger Ver is mostly known as one of the first bitcoin millionaires, a.k.a. Bitcoin Jesus, which is not surprising since Ver began investing in bitcoin as early as in 2011. It is worth noting that Ver is a very extraordinary man even by the standards of crypto world. In 1999, after a year of study, he dropped out of De Anza College in favor of conducting personal business. In 2005, he was sentenced to ten months in prison for selling firecrackers (illegal in the United States) on eBay. In 2006, Roger moved to Japan and renounced American citizenship. In 2012, he became one of the founders of a non-profit organization, Bitcoin Foundation, that aims to “standardize, protect, and promote the use of Bitcoin cryptographic money for the benefit of users worldwide.” Nowadays Ver is in charge of cryptocurrency wallets service, Bitcoin.com.
Over the past year, the name of Roger Ver repeatedly appeared in the media due to the introduction of a new cryptocurrency, Bitcoin Cash, which he supports so much now. According to his opinion, Bitcoin Cash is a "true bitcoin" that supports the values of Satoshi Nakamoto.
Alexander Ivanov is the founder and CEO of Waves, a decentralized platform for crowdfunding. Ivanov is sure that blockchain technology will accelerate the progress of the digital economy, with cryptocurrencies offering an unprecedented level of freedom for users.
In April 2016, Ivanov established the blockchain platform, Waves, to issue and trade digital assets. Waves includes not only the platform for running crowdfunding campaigns but also its own decentralized exchange and the service of mobile applications. The ICO held in June 2016 collected more than $16 million. The market capitalization of the company amounted to $600 million as of last December. According to Ivanov, the year of 2018 will focus on mass blockchain adoption. In this regard, Waves launches the fund Basics to collect investments for infrastructure and further development of various blockchain projects.
Elina Sidorenko, a Professor at MGIMO, is the head of the interdepartmental working group for the assessment of cryptocurrency turnover risks of the State Duma of the Russian Federation. Sidorenko says that her primary mission is to warn citizens against the risks of investing in the cryptocurrency market and ICO because the world is not yet ready for the crypto economy.
Last December, Elina Sidorenko was awarded as "chief cryptocurrency expert of 2017" at Russian Crypto Awards for her contribution to the development of the crypto industry in Russia. Since the spring of 2017, it is she who has been a leading lawmaker preparing a bill that will define the legal status of the cryptocurrencies and market participants, as well as the basic principles of the crypto market. The bill is to be drafted next summer. It is also planned to create an analytical center and non-government exchange platforms to work with cryptocurrencies. According to Sidorenko, at this stage, the Russian crypto community should develop self-regulation mechanism that will make market operations conducted honestly, transparently, and under Russian jurisdiction.
Gavin Wood is the co-founder and former CTO at Ethereum, who transformed the initial Ethereum White Paper written by Buterin into an actually running program. Now Wood heads the company Parity Technologies, which develops software for blockchain networks. He is also the co-founder of a startup Polkadot, which develops the protocol that will allow improving network scalability for a greater compatibility of private and public blockchains.
The 2017 year proved to be difficult for Wood. At the beginning of the year, the company successfully released the Parity 1.5, an updated Ethereum network client. But after a good start, in the middle of the year, Parity Technologies faced severe difficulties.
Last July, the wallets were hacked. The hackers found the bug in the contract with multisignature, which allowed them to steal 153,000 ethers (about $32 million at the time). Parity released an updated version of the smart contract to solve this problem. Nevertheless, another critical bug, which resides in the library that manages the logic of wallets, was detected in November. As a result of а programmer's mistake, around $152 million was frozen in Parity users' accounts.
According to Wood, all users' digital assets stored on the platform are completely safe, but t is not yet possible to pull them from the network. It is worth noting that among the frozen assets was $98 million raised by the Polkadot startup through an ICO.
Herman Klimenko is the director and owner of Internet company LiveInternet, founder and owner of a news aggregator based on social media data from MediaMetrics, and, since January 2016, advisor to the President of the Russian Federation on the development of the Internet.
Last August, Klimenko reported about the need to create the Russian Association of Blockchain and Cryptocurrency (RACIB) (it was eventually established in September). Now RACIB is actively working on blockchain and cryptocurrency popularization. In December, RACIB submitted a proposal to amend the law "About the development of small and medium entrepreneurship in the Russian Federation." The proposal suggests introducing the bill that would legalize ICO holding as means of attracting investment for startups, and small- and medium-sized businesses. Besides, in December, it became known that RACIB was planning to open a regional office in Sevastopol, which will become the research crypto platform.