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Top personalities to look out for in 2023



Crypto in 2022 was filled with dramas – a lot of it was not expected, but it came. After the several collapses in H1, the unbelievable downfall of FTX increased the level of uncertainties in the industry.

Although, behind these fallen organizations are personalities that have been tagged as malicious players in the industry, Messari has compiled a list of individuals who should affect the trajectory of the crypto market in 2023.

Centralized Lords – Changpeng Zhao & Brian Armstrong

Although not called Centralized Lords by the report, Changpeng Zhao, CEO of Binance, and Brian Armstrong, CEO of Coinbase, are the leaders of the two largest centralized crypto exchanges in the industry today. They both sit at positions one and two regarding the volume of trade and crypto assets under custody in centralized exchanges.

According to the report, CZ came under more scrutiny, especially during the collapse of FTX. Part of the reason is because of the steps Binance took, which included trying to buy out FTX and then leaving the deal to crumble. Although CZ, in several online forums, explained the decision behind the exit, there are criticisms against the CEO of the largest exchange.

For the Coinbase CEO, Messari said there had been personal scrutiny and attack on him too, because of his “no politics at work” attitude and certain US regulators who don’t want their weaknesses thrown out in public. Armstrong proves to be a major force to reckon with as the industry drives into 2023.

The pointer for Messari is that no matter how many advantages decentralized finance and its tools like self-custody wallets seem, “we will probably always have centralized financial services that offer account-based services for investors and users looking to access crypto without the hassle of shepherding their own private keys.” And guess what? Binance and Coinbase are at the helm of affairs related to custodial tools.

Rep. Patrick McHenry 

Looking at the crypto landscape, the US and its political influence sip into the digital asset movement. Apart from the fact that the US has one of the most crypto owners at about 13% of the population (or 46 million), it is the only industrialized country in the top 10 of Chainalysis’ 2022 Global Crypto Adoption.

Rep. Patrick McHenry, a representative of North Carolina’s 10th congressional district since 2005, is a pro-crypto politician. According to the report, the Republican promoted a proposal “for token disclosures and sponsored a bill that would codify its approach to regulation” by SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce; and co-sponsored a bill for regulating and integrating stablecoins into the US financial system. 

In total, he has sponsored three crypto bills – Keep Innovation in America Act, Eliminate Barriers to Innovation Act, and Clarity for Digital Tokens Act. A politician who has been vocal about crypto and was made the Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee on December 7, 2022, is someone to watch out for in 2023, especially as the elections are coming, Messari said.

Sheila Warren

Another individual mentioned in the list is Sheila Warren. She is the chief executive officer of the Crypto Council for Innovation, an international connection of several individuals and organizations interested in interpreting the usefulness of crypto globally. Part of its responsibility is to educate policymakers, regulators, and people around the globe about crypto.

According to Messari, while the Blockchain Association, which has Kristin Smith and Katie Haun of a16z, has been a powerhouse for advancing the cause for crypto, the association has had some challenges, including the exit of Coinbase and Binance.US.,  as well as team imbalance brought by the formation of Haun Ventures after Katie Haun left a16z.

In addition to the report, the CCI led by Sheila Warren has more influential industry players compared to BA that’s known for its membership numbers. Being a former World Economic Forum executive, Messari believes that Sheila Warren will be another global force to reckon with, especially in terms of creating the perfect regulation to drive innovation in crypto.

Citizen Journalists: From Molly White to Autism Capital 

At a time when blockchain and crypto seem to be one of the most sought-after solutions to the world’s global financial problems is the rise of the voice of a young critic – Molly White. She gained the fourth spot for the persons to watch out for in 2023 by Messari.

Molly White is an American software engineer, Wikipedia editor, crypto skeptic, and founder of Web3 Is Going Just Great, a website where she shares up-to-date information on the dark sides of crypto.

According to Messari, White’s website “tracks the daily dumpster fires that have plagued crypto this year, and there might not be a more savage reality checker on crypto.” This simple and direct information shared by White can be a source of insight to understand the problems of crypto, which lead to proffering real-life solutions that will be useful instead of “blind solutions and products,” Messari added.

Autism Capital, which developed into another investigative crypto critic site, didn’t qualify for this spot because of its shady connection with the collapsed FTX. Messari acknowledged that while Moley White and Autism Capital “outperformed the legacy media by a country mile in reporting on important stories within the crypto sphere this year,” the latter is not fit for a chance on the list.

Anatoly Yakovenko 

The name Anatoly Yakovenko is linked with a project that has been termed one of the killers of Ethereum. Solana is undoubtedly one of the fastest blockchains created and has attracted several such as StepN, Y00TS, DeGods, Solanart, Magic Eden and OpenSea. Anatoly Yakovenko is the creator and co-founder of Solana.

The Solana team has proven to be resilient over time, with great support for its community and an increase in engagement which was displayed at its event, Breakpoint 2022. However, there have been some strange times linked with the project, including the exit of y00ts DeGods, and its connection with FTX, which has millions of dollars in the firm.

Messari said that despite these opposing standpoints linked with Solana, the project’s smartphone that’s geared to be released soon, is best for the time on its Web3 journey. The question remains, will Soalan survive with the leadership of Anatoly as it did in the last bear market?

Barry Silbert & The Winklevii 

The next spot to look out for in 2023, according to Messari, are the leaders behind DCG and Gemini. Barry Silbert is the founder and CEO of Digital Currency Group, which was launched in 2013

The Winkleviis, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, are the other persons of high stake in 2023. They are the founders of Gemini, a regulated cryptocurrency exchange, wallet, and custodian that allow users to trade crypto assets such as bitcoin and ether.

The trio has had success and relationship until late last year when Genesis Capital, founded by Barry, was said to have held $900 million worth of crypto belonging to customers on the Gemini platform. These customers signed up for a service offered by Genesis Capital through Gemini, where interest will be given for cryptocurrencies deposited in the platform. Up till January 3, 2023, the monies have not been returned to Gemini and back to the owners.

As of 3 January 3, 2023, Cameron Winklevoss wrote an open letter asking Barry to pay the money he owns on or before 8 January 2023. How this will pan out is still unclear, especially citing the recent downward outcomes from FTX and other crypto collapses.

Stani Kulechov 

In a very negative market, as we’ve seen at the close of 2022, the Aave team has shown strength with two of its projects – Aave protocol and Lens protocol. The success of the two is one of the reasons Messari affirms that Stani Kulechov, the founder of Aave, will be part of the face to watch out for in the crypto space come 2023.

Aave is a lending protocol that has been outperformed by only Uniswap and MakerDAO in terms of DeFi market capitalisation and TVL, respectively, in 2022. It’s known for starting flash loans in 2022. Flash loans are limitless loans issued without collateral. However, it’s controlled by a smart contract that cancels the loan in situations where the borrower cannot pay back.

Lens protocol is another project that seeks to transform how social networks function. The decentralized social graph protocol is creating a new wave of identity structure for users where they decide how to interact with several platforms and how the same platforms use their data.

A team with the presence of Rebecca Rettig, Messari insists that Stani stands a chance to be one of the highlights of the crypto world in 2023.

Alexey Pertsev & Tornado Cash Devs 

Decentralized Finance borne on the development of blockchain and crypto is known to provide a high degree of privacy as well as anonymity, depending on how developers prefer to design any system that uses it. Tornado Cash, an open source, a non-custodial, decentralized platform built on the Ethereum Virtual Machine, is one of such developments that has gained huge attention in the crypto industry.

While it stands as a product that shows the value of decentralized systems, Tornado Cash has been blacklisted for the illegal activities rolled through it, including the alleged laundering of over $7 billion by the Lazarus Group through the protocol.

Alexey Pertsev, one of the co-founders of Tornado Cash, was arrested last August by the Dutch security because of a suspicion linking him to the transfer of illegal funds via his creation. Although there has not been any formal charge stated against him, the founder and CEO of PepperSec has not been released.

For Messari, Alexey Pertsev is another pointer on what the future of Web3 will be like in 2023 as privacy, anonymity and open source become a concern for regulators. “It is unclear whether Dutch prosecutors plan to argue that the mere act of writing Tornado Cash code to process private transactions will be punished,” Messari added

DAO Members 

A business or an organization has an identity because people can be associated with the entity. At any time, if there are concerns surrounding the operations of the entity, there are individuals called to stand for the organization.

In Web3, the creation of different kinds of organizations with faceless identities is becoming common. DAOs, Decentralized Autonomous Organisations, in basic terms, are entities created by individuals who are supposedly meant to take decisions from no “central point” of reference. However, these decisions are meant to be for the good of the organization.

Messari’s report shares that DAOs will be the next face of attention in the coming year. It added that while they have been involved in the interaction with other DAOs in the industry, the structure of how DAOs should function is still unclear.

To make things better, the report states that the rules of the game around DAOs must be made clear as soon as possible citing the involvement of regulators who want to sanitize how DAOs operate. The expectation is that from 2023, how DAOs are executed needs to be checked.

IRS Agent Smith 

The last personality to watch out for in 2023 according to Messari is the IRS. Not to take this as a single organization, the Agent Smith represents every tax focused body around the world that would want to have a share of the profit crypto users gain from their transactions.

Messari noted that from the US to Europe and other parts of the world, there will be more stringent measures taken by authorities to take over crypto assets or tax its activities. And one reason is that despite the bear market effect on the market, there are still profits gotten by traders and other players in the industry.

Read also;

Messari Report: Top 10 Cryptocurrency Trends in 2022

List of top blockchain and crypto events in 2023

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