Year In Crypto: Top Personalities of 2021

By GetBlock | GetBlock | 25 Dec 2021


CZ, SBF, OpenSea CEO and Axie Infinity co-founder: Key figureheads of 2021 as seen by GetBlock’s editorial team.

The year of 2021 in crypto will be remembered for the regulatory crackdown in China, NFT and ‘Play-to-Earn’ manias, new Bitcoin ATH, Ethereum’s EIP 1559, and so on.

But crypto is all about great minds and passionate souls in it. As such, let’s recall the heroes of 2021 in our second digest.

Changpeng ‘CZ’ Zhao

Suffering from desperate regulatory attacks, Binance remains #1 crypto ecosystem in the world

For Changpeng Zhao, CEO and co-founder of Binance (BNB) cryptocurrencies ecosystem, this year wasn’t all roses. Starting from Q2, 2021, the regulators across the globe went full China: one after another, they started to issue the orders to reiterate that Binance aren’t allowed to deliver the services in this or that country.

While the exact structure of how Binance is incorporated legally remains unknown, Binance was forced to reconsider its strategy of interacting with regulators. The exchange stopped delivering derivatives trading services in some countries (EU, South Africa) or restricted new users registration (in Singapore). Also, it implemented mandatory KYC which surprisingly resulted in only a 3% user base decline.

Despite being under fire, Binance still remains number one in crypto: its CEX is the absolute champion in terms of trading volume while Binance Smart Chain - in spite of severe criticism - remains one of the top smart contracts platforms.

As GetBlock covered previously, local China media outlets estimated Binance’s CEO net worth at eye-watering $90,000,000,000. Even if this number is heavily exaggerated, CZ did well in 2021.

Sam Bankman-Fried

‘Richest Person in Crypto’ (Forbes) is ready to buy SOL at $3

Sam Bankman-Fried, CEO and founder of crypto derivatives exchange FTX, is the only crypto personality included into the inaugural edition of Forbes 30 Under 30 Hall of Fame. A year ago he appeared in this rating among a small cohort of other blockchain entrepreneurs.

In 2021, his FTX exchange secured a jaw-dropping $900 mln in the latest funding round; its valuation rocketed to $18 billion. This is the second-largest fundraising in crypto, surpassed only by NYDIG’s strategic round. Paradigm and Sequoia Capital led this round with more than 60 VCs also backing FTX in its fundraising efforts. For $135 million, FTX has secured the rights to rename the home stadium of NBA team Miami Heat into FTX Arena.

At the same time, last year, Mr. Bankman-Fried (or SBF) made headlines thanks to its support for Solana (SOL), the best performing Ethereum (ETH) killer of 2021.

On January 9th, 2021, he responded to pseudonymous crypto influencer CoinMamba who claimed that SOL is overbought at $3.

In less than 11 months, Solana (SOL) rallied to $255. As such, Mr. Bankman-Fried could benefit from an 80x rally.

Devin Finzer

OpenSea marketplace changed the narrative in NFTs

OpenSea, the world’s largest marketplace for non-fungible tokens on Ethereum (ETH), is a symbol of the ongoing digital collectibles mania. In August 2021, it took only 17 days to amass $1 billion in trading volume while by September it was in charge of 98% of the entire NFT markets.

OpenSea hosts all top-tier collections of NFTs such as six-digit Bored Apes Yacht Club, Crypto Punks, CryptoKitties, and so on. Over the last months, OpenSea released a number of celebrity-endorsed collections such as the Pulp Fiction series by Quentin Tarantino. As we reported, OpenSea’s director is also ranked Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2021.

Mr. Finzer founded OpenSea in 2017 after years of software engineering career at Google and Pinterest.

Trung Nguyen

It was Axie Infinity that introduced the ‘Metaverse’ concept to a broader market. Not Facebook, sorry.

Trung Nguyen, CEO and co-founder of Vietnam-based software development studio Sky Mavis, rarely gives interviews. At the same time, his Axie Infinity game scores $34 million in weekly revenue (more than that of OpenSea!) while its AXS token rallied more than 20,000% in a year.

Sky Mavis’ flagship product Axie Infinity is a ‘Play-to-Earn’ protocol that simulates the life of ‘axies’ (axolotls) and allows its users to trade land plots as NFTs. As such, this game is among the first ‘metaverse’ products that gained mainstream attention.

What OpenSea did for NFTs, Uniswap for DeFis, Axie Infinity does for metaverses. Premium Axie Infinity NFTs are sold for $2,500,000 each.

GetBlock Client

Customers of our APIs are at the forefront of Web3 business and experiments. Today and ever!

Even if your product’s revenue is orders of magnitude lower than that of OpenSea or FTX, you are already our Hero of 2021.

Maybe, you ordered GetBlock’s shared nodes to stress-test your DEX wallet or leased a dedicated node for your hackathon? Or your trading bot is powered by data from our Bitcoin (BTC) API endpoint?

We’re pushing the frontiers of decentralization hand in hand with you.

Stay tuned, next week, we’re going to indicate the top trends of 2021 and share some predictions for 2022.

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