Blockchain is everywhere. The previous sentence is no evangelist propaganda since technological trends have an inherently all-encompassing effect. Blockchain, the most prominent type of distributed ledger, has become increasingly popular cutting across multiple industries: both established and emergent ones. It has gone from being a novel platform for bitcoins to being present in medicine, law, education and the list continues. These days, it is even powering supply chains and smartphones. One of the significant contributing factors to this is the growing list of successful people who have taken it upon themselves to invest, support and, evangelize Blockchain. We take a look at five of the well-known celebrity entrepreneurs who are in the middle of the blockchain mania.
No list of blockchain investors is ever complete without the inclusion of Mark Cuban, best known as the owner of the Dallas Mavericks. He made his fortune in the middle of the dot-com bust by selling Brodcast.com to Yahoo in 1999 for a staggering $5.7 billion.
This famed American investor has changed his stance rather frequently on Blockchain. He has backed a team of developers who developed mercury protocol, a way for people to engage in secure communication without being subject to the extensive data-mining. The USP of the whole protocol is that it offers non-intrusive monetization opportunities to advertisers and a forensically-unrecoverable way of deleting messages sent across the platform.
He has recently backed a new venture capital fund for cryptocurrency-related investments called ‘1confirmation’ and participated in Unikrn’s ICO or Initial Coin Offering to the tune of $25 million which he claims to be different from all ICOs before with the promise of improved security, ease of access and safety. Cuban has also assured that fans would be able to buy tickets to Dallas Mavericks’ 2018-19 through Bitcoin and Ethereum which would be the first of its kind in the American sports arena.
Ashton Kutcher has dipped his toes into quite a number of things ranging from acting to human rights, all the way through investment in both technology companies and Blockchain-based firms. He co-founded A-Grade Investments, an investment fund that financed BitPay which is a payment service provider for merchants that have Bitcoin-friendly businesses.
Kutcher, speaking at the Tech-Crunch disrupt conference, said that he supported blockchain serving as the basis of decentralization of security. He further commented, “we could civically anonymously monitor each other to preserve the security and safety online without having to worry about Big Brother: an instrument of mass good.” Kutcher invests in BitBay, a cryptocurrency exchange. Also, his company Sound Ventures invests in an eSports betting platform Unikrn along with Mark Cuban, the first name on our list. In recent public memory, he donated $4 million in Ripple to Ellen Degeneres’ wildlife fund publicly on ‘The Ellen Degeneres Show’ alongside his investment partner Guy Oseary expressing it was their collective duty to the planet.
Steve Wozniak or Woz as he is fondly called is one of the most well-known investors. The legendary technologist who co-founded Apple along with Steve Jobs and Ronald Wayne is latest in the line of acclaimed entrepreneurs to invest in Blockchain Startups. He compared Blockchain as the next IT revolution in the making while hailing its ability to affect, change and disrupt industries remarkably.
Woz is primarily interested in Ethereum because of its ability to act both as a platform and as a token. He is a co-founder of EQUI Global, a VC fund focusing on blockchain technology by building on one. Furthermore, it aspires to change the narrative of the traditional industry by enabling personal investments, in addition to allowing investors to trade on external crypto exchanges via their EquiTokens. The infrastructure is based on the Ethereum (ETH) blockchain, a platform widely used by decentralized applications (DApps) developers. Commenting on Bitcoin, Woz said that it is pure digital gold. Moreover, I buy into that. All others tend to give up some of the aspects of Bitcoin. For instance, being decentralized without any central control. That is the first one they have to give up to try to have a business model.”
Sir Richard Branson is an English business mogul, investor, author, and philanthropist, best known as the founder of the Virgin Group. It currently controls more than 400 companies spanning a breathtaking variety of sectors ranging from automobiles all the way through to technology. He is also the founder of the Extreme Tech Challenge, the world’s most considerable startup challenge. Branson who has also been a continual proponent of blockchain technology, starting with its implications for the world of finance.
Branson recently invested the company “Blockchain”, a Bitcoin wallet aiming to shift power into the hands of end-users and in the process taking away from Centralized banks; thereby reducing the chance of banks becoming too big to fail. Moreover, he was the man behind an elite blockchain-specific gathering on Necker Island that happened recently. A quasi-summit for cryptocurrency and blockchain’s future where leaders, entrepreneurs, and investors come together to gather and discuss the future of the industry.
The Winklevoss twins, Cameron Winklevoss and Tyler Winklevoss, also known by the humorous epithet of Winklevi are American rowers and Internet entrepreneurs, and big shots in the world of blockchain. They are perhaps best known for founding HarvardConnect, which was later rebranded ConnectU and subsequently suing Mark Zuckerburg, for allegedly stealing their idea to establish Facebook, and received $65 million in compensation.
As Venture capitalists, they invested $1.5 million in BitsInstant a now-defunct bitcoin exchange startup based in New York which aimed to be available to amateurs and professional traders alike, which was shut down due to money laundering associated with the online black market SilkRoad. Most recently, they came back once again in the public eye for becoming the world’s first bitcoin billionaires after the cryptocurrencies’ price surged to $11,500 with the twins claiming they, at one point, owned 1% of all bitcoin.
They created ‘Winkdex’, a financial index which tracks the price of Bitcoin and Ethereum based on data from seven different exchanges, weighed by the daily volume of trading. After Winkdex they went on to found Gemini, a digital currency exchange which acts both as a platform and custodian. On the role of Gemini, the twins have compared the platform to the USA which provides a safe, trustworthy regulatory environment which allows businesses to thrive which is in contrast to the founding intent of Blockchain which was decentralization and distribution of control.
June 2016 saw Gemini becoming the first licensed Ether exchange and later in May 2018 it became the world’s first licensed Zcash exchange allowing users to trade cryptocurrency alongside fiat currency in an open market. They recently won a patent for a cryptographic key cold storage method involving air-gapped servers, geographically isolated vaults, plastic cards and, possibly, clay tablets as well.
The Verdict – Blockchain Is The Future
These are just a handful of the many, many people who’ve jumped in onto the Blockchain Train with names like Jamie Foxx, Bill Gates, Mike Tyson, Kanye West, and even Vladimir Putin who has announced funding for Blockchain research and announced the development of a Russian Cryptocurrency. Countries like Estonia which are at the cutting edge of BLockchain technology have made significant inroads in digitizing their nation’s infrastructure setting an example for other states to follow. It is only a matter of time until blockchain becomes so pervasive that it becomes part and parcel of our lives and fades into the background. Till then it’s set to disrupt and change every industry, field or technology it comes in contact with.