Ten of the youthful business leaders featured in this year’s Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list work in blockchain and cryptocurrency, highlighting increasing acceptance of the industry from the mainstream media.
Despite its name, the list actually highlights 600 young people across various categories — with the crypto alumni including seven individuals in the finance category, one in venture capital, one in energy, and one in manufacturing.
The finance category features the founder of the $1.2 billion crypto derivatives exchange FTX, and quantitative trading firm Alameda Research, Sam Bankman-Fried. Since launching last year, FTX has made waves by offering innovative products including prediction markets for elections, Bitcoin’s hash rate and for futures contracts for oil, driving $30 million in profits for the exchange this year.
Brain Tubergen, co-founder of U.S.-based initial token offering and exchange platform CoinList, also made the grade. Since launching in 2017, CoinList has facilitated more than $800 million in fundraising for many crypto projects backed by the heavyweights of the sector, including A16z, Sequoia Capital and Bain Capital Ventures.
Almost a third of the crypto leaders featured are women, which signals a shrinking, though still significant gender gap in an industry notorious for low female participation. Forbes celebrates Bitcoin's first female core protocol engineer Amiti Uttarwar, alongside the founder of crypto lending platform BlockFi, Flori Marquez, and the founding partner of Volt Capital, Soona Amhaz — who features in the venture capital category.
Including Amhaz, three of the list’s crypto alumni represent venture capital firms, the 21-year-old Paradigm Capital investment partner, Charlie Noyes, and Pantera Capital co-founder and co-chief information officer of Augur, Joseph Krug.
Layer1 Technologies co-founder Alexander Liegl is the list’s sole representative of the crypto mining sector, with Liegl’s company having outlined an ambitious plan to bring 30% of global hashing power to the United States over the longer term. Liegl is in the energy category.
The CEO of Bitcoin payments firm Zap, Jack Mallers, also features in the finance category.
For its last entry, Forbes includes all three co-founders of blockchain-powered supply chain data platform Authenticiti — Andrew Yang, Jeong Woo Park, and Athanasios Karachotzitis, under the manufacturing category.
Crypto’s strong showing in the finance category is likely down to the fact the judges have ties to the industry: they include Mike Novogratz, the Galaxy Digital founder and Bitcoin bull along with Cathie Wood, founder of Ark Investment Management, which runs a digital assets fund.
Forbes has highlighted the achievements of the young crypto leaders in the past, with its 2017 30 under 30 Asia list featuring Tron founder Justin Sun, and its 2018 list including Melonport and Agora Trade’s Reto Trinkler.
The following year saw the number of crypto entrepreneurs celebrated by Forbes increase, with Bitwise CEO Hunter Horsley, Bail Bloc’s JB Rubinovitz, Lightning Labs’ Olaoluwa Osuntokun and Nader Al-Naji of the now-defunct Basis Protocol all included in the list.