Cryptocurrencies threaten to upend the financial paradigm we’ve known since birth, and for many entrepreneurs, investors, and believers, the likes of Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and other digital currencies have become gateways to vast swathes of wealth and influence.
It’s perhaps not surprising, then, that new generations of young, tech-savvy investors and dreamers have taken to heart the potential of blockchain technology – and at times have made both significant academic and financial developments that have overshadowed the achievements of more seasoned or older figures.
A familiar name to anyone who’s ever heard of – or invested in – the digital currency platform called Ethereum, Vitalik Buterin – a Russian-Canadian programmer and writer – is the face behind the co-creation of a financial platform that is often heralded as a potential successor to Bitcoin.
Buterin first learned about Bitcoin from his father in 2012, and one year later proceeded to outline the white paper that first detailed the workings of the Ethereum platform. Today, at the tender age of 24, Buterin is estimated to be worth more than $120 million USD based on his Ether holdings alone.
Buterin is also a philanthropist, and has made large donations to both the SENS Research Foundation and the Machine Intelligence Research Institute.
Erik Finman isn’t your typical 18-year old. Having made a deal with his parents that he needn’t have to go to college should be be a millionaire upon his 18th birthday, Finman can now avoid hitting the books and studying for exams thanks to several well-placed investments in Bitcoin.
Finman reportedly owns some 403 Bitcoins, which at the time of writing makes the young investor worth some $4 million USD. Finman began investing bitcoin in 2011 at the age of 2012, where he purchased Bitcoin with a $1,000 USD gift from his grandmother and a tip from his brother.
Today, Finman has used some $100,00 USD to found Botangle – an online education company that would allow frustrated students to find applicable teachers over video chat. In his spare time, Finman also enjoys keeping abreast of cryptocurrency news.
Marco Streng had his first exposure to cryptocurrencies in 2011, where the young entrepreneur leveraged his laptop’s CPU to mine Bitcoin. Fascinated by the theoretical and mathematical aspects behind digital currencies, Streng has since worked in the cryptocurrency ecosystem and today is most recognisable for the fact that he heads up Genesis Mining.
Founded in 2013, Genesis Mining allows users from around the world to mine both Litecoin, a popular digital currency, and other Scrypt-based cryptocurrencies without having to build or use mining rigs of their own.
While no reliable estimates of Streng’s net worth exists, the entrepreneur is reported to own some £10m GBP in computing and mining equipment.
Jeremy Gardner’s big Bitcoin moment first game in 2013, where a friend first offered the young cryptocurrency mogul Bitcoin in exchange for cash following the closure of the online black market known as The Silk Road.
After buying in, Gardner promptly sold his Bitcoin back for cash – and realised at that point that that cryptocurrencies provided an instant way to exchange value (and make money) with thousands of traders all around the world. Gardner’s decision to buy altcoins outside of Bitcoin further cemented his interest in blockchain technology.
Gardner now heads up the Blockchain Education Network, which operates cryptocurrency clubs at universities found in countries around the globe. Gardner is also behind Augur – a blockchain-based market forecasting tool that raised $5.3 million USD in 2015.
Elisha Owusu Akyaw.
16-year-old Elisha Owusu Akyaw is the chief executive officer of Token Media; a company he set up in 2017 to assist blockchain projects reach their target audiences.
The entrepreneur first got his start at 12, where after receiving a mobile device he proceeded to create websites and commercial blogs – a foray that eventually led him to blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.
According to reports, Elisha – through Token Media – to date has helped raise some $40 million USD in cryptocurrency token sales through its marketing services. Today, Elisha aims to organise blockchain events to discuss the impact of cryptocurrency and the future regulation of digital currencies throughout Africa.