The personalities who made their mark in 2023
Hayden Adams (Uniswap)
The creator of one of the most revolutionary projects in decentralised finance (a platform that enables any digital asset to be exchanged on a peer-to-peer basis), Hayden Adams is coming to the end of a particularly busy year that has seen him present a V4 and above all activate his first charges on the interface developed by his commercial structure, Uniswap Labs. Although very well capitalised by venture capital funds, the American start-up is no longer working for free and is in active discussions with leading financial institutions. According to our information, an office could soon open in Paris to help institutionalise it.
Sam Altman (Worldcoin)
The 38-year-old entrepreneur's aura extends beyond crypto, as he revolutionised usage by creating ChatGPT with his start-up OpenAI. The champion of artificial intelligence has also made a big splash with Worldcoin, a project based on a cryptocurrency (WLD) that aims to create a digital identity for all humans at a time when it will be increasingly difficult to distinguish man from machine in the digital space. Hotly contested because of its dystopian vision, it is likely to be at the heart of debates in 2024 and beyond.
Brian Armstrong (Coinbase)
Brian Armstrong is probably the best-known American entrepreneur in the ecosystem. He has made his Coinbase exchange platform one of the preferred gateways for retail and institutional investors. His year was marked by the launch of his Base blockchain (a rollup of Ethereum) and the remarkable comeback of his stock on the Nasdaq (+260% in 2023). Reacting to Binance's conviction in November, he emphasised the winning bet represented by his choice to prioritise compliance with regulation in order to become a company capable of standing the test of time.
Stefan Berger (European Parliament)
This year, the European Union became the first major economic area to adopt regulations on digital assets, and Stefan Berger is no stranger to them. The German MEP is certainly a key figure in MiCA (Markets in Crypto Assets) as he was its rapporteur. This framework provides greater protection for investors (notably through the creation of stringent rules for exchange platforms and stablecoin issuers). The criticism that can be levelled at it is that it strongly favours the traditional financial players that will be entering the sector. A MiCA 2 should see the light of day within 2 years and should focus on decentralised finance.
Rune Christensen (Maker)
Rune Christensen is the co-founder of MakerDAO, one of the oldest and largest decentralised finance lending platforms (DeFi) and the issuer of the stablecoin DAI ($5 billion capitalisation). The Dane shone in 2023 when he presented his "Endgame" plan. Initially highly contested (notably for its vertical governance), his strategy is beginning to bear fruit. He was one of the first to bet on integrating real world financial assets into decentralised finance tools. To date, Maker has acquired $2.5 billion worth of US sovereign bonds, earning him $90 million a year.
Larry Fink (BlackRock)
At the head of the world's largest fund manager ($9.4 trillion), Larry Fink is the man who reignited the bitcoin fire by filing a Bitcoin ETF application with the SEC in June. This was a historic event, as he now considers bitcoin to be a solid alternative to gold as an investment, or to currencies that are losing value with inflation. Larry Fink is also a strong advocate of tokenisation, which he believes has the potential to make the financial system more efficient.
Gary Gensler (SEC)
He is undoubtedly one of the personalities whose influence has set the tempo for the year. The chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), one of America's financial regulators, is fighting hard to bring the emerging digital asset sector within the scope of the regulation of financial securities, which dates back to 1946. It has secured the departure of Binance founder Changpeng Zhao, scored a partial victory against Ripple and will soon have to weigh in on the approval of the first Bitcoin ETF in the US.
Jennifer Johnson (Franklin Templeton)
The digital asset sector is taking over traditional finance and Jennifer Johnson is certainly no stranger to it. As head of the Franklin Templeton fund (founded by her grandfather in 1947), she has pushed the $1330 billion asset manager to the forefront of Wall Street's adoption of cryptos by joining giants like BlackRock and Fidelity in the race to approve the first Bitcoin ETFs. And that's not all: Franklin Templeton manages nodes on the Ethereum, Solana and Stellar networks.
Richard Teng (Binance)
This is the new face of the world's largest exchange platform. Hired in 2023 to manage the Singapore operations, he then went on to manage the entire Middle East and North Africa region. In the space of a few months, he held a series of positions of responsibility, moving from managing Europe to Asia before finally being responsible for all markets. More politically correct than his predecessor Changpeng Zhao, Richard Teng is above all an expert in regulation. He will have the onerous task of bringing Binance into adulthood after a troubled adolescence.
Cathy Wood (Ark Invest)
She was one of those who supported bitcoin and its ecosystem when everything was going wrong. For many months, Cathie Wood bought millions of dollars' worth of Coinbase shares as they continued to plummet. Good thing too, because the exchange's shares turned out to be among the best performers of the year (260% in 2023). Recently, it has again benefited from Solana's return to form. Cathie Wood is also in the running to approve the first Bitcoin ETFs with its alliance with Swiss fund manager 21Shares. An example of conviction and perseverance, even though many investors in her funds took back their holdings in the first half of the year.