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5 Key Players of Crypto in 2021

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2021 has been quite the year for Bitcoin & cryptocurrencies in general. Although the markets are seeing a bit of a correction, the year (to date) saw the price of Bitcoin and other assets soar to undiscovered heights and break all-time highs with frightening rapidity.

While the current staggering successes of the markets can be attributed to many different catalysts, there are certain central players whose influence can’t be denied.

#5. Vitalik Buterin

Kicking off the list is one of the most legendary and near-mythical names in cryptocurrency.

The co-founder of Ethereum, the second-largest cryptocurrency in existence, his influence has particularly grown with the rising popularity of Etherum and other ERC-20 projects.

Vitalik Buterin should be a household name to anyone even slightly curious about blockchain. Unlike other crypto players in this list, Vitalik's main influence is more technical than financial as he leads the movement of the blockchain-based coin from the PoW (Proof of Work) consensus algorithm to PoS (Proof of Stake) method, a move sure to increase the coin's energy efficiency by up to 99%!

More recently, Vitalik has been behind some major headlines of “meme coins”, most notably Shiba Token ($SHIB) and Akita Token ($AKITA). After being gifted large quantities of the coins, Buterin unloaded up to $80m worth of the coins to various charities and humanitarian efforts. A substantial amount went to India to help them battle the COVID-19 scourge and also to sanitize the Ethereum ecosystem.

#4. Barry Silbert

The former CEO of Grayscale Investments has turned from being regarded as a crazy investor to one of the most prescient players in the technology sector.

One of the first institutions to ever get into cryptocurrency, Grayscale has been one of the largest institutional buyers of the so-called digital gold and has made it repeatedly clear they have zero intentions of selling until BTC hits at least $100k.

Although a beloved cryptocurrency influencer, Barry got into quite a bit of a scuffle against Dogecoin enthusiasts when he announced he shorted the beloved meme coin.

Regardless, with Grayscale's massive treasure chest of 654,885 Bitcoin, a whooping forty-six (46%) of all Bitcoin held by publicly traded companies, Barry Silbert's influence is certainly not one to be looked at cheaply.

#3. Changpeng Zhao (CZ)

Owner and CEO of the largest cryptocurrency exchange in history, CZ's influence doubles as the most public influencer of the centralized coin Binance ($BNB) and its ecosystem (BEP).

Unlike other decentralized tokens, BNB offers lightning-fast transactions with extremely low fees.

This, in addition to CZ's sole ownership of Binance, makes him a very important player in the cryptocurrency industry.  

#2. Micheal Saylor 

If you're just glancing through the list of institutions loading up on Bitcoin, there is a 90% chance of seeing Microstrategy mentioned at least once every time. Such is Micheal Saylor's belief in Bitcoin.

A somewhat late believer in the cause, to say the CEO of Microstrategy supports cryptocurrency is a bit of an understatement. With statements like "Bitcoin is the apex property of the human race" and with the acquisition of about 91,326 bitcoins, Saylor's unrelenting optimism about Bitcoin is undoubtedly one of the major factors currently fueling the bull market.

With his very public announcements of his acquisition of Bitcoin during every dip and correction the coin has faced, Saylor has unwittingly become, to some, the Guardian angel of Bitcoin.

#1. Elon Musk

Investing hero to some, obnoxious villain to others, one thing either camp cannot take from him is his significant influence in the cryptocurrency sector... and both sides are still probably not completely sure whether or not Elon is a friend or foe to cryptocurrency.

Although initially hailed by all and sundry for his involvement in the space, especially when he announced Tesla's 1.5 billion dollars acquisition of Bitcoin back in February, the hype from many seasoned investors turned to doubt when the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX began the relentless shilling of his beloved meme coin Dogecoin, a coin that tripled over 25 times this year and has been dominating the headlines.

The love-doubt relationship with Elon finally turned sour with his recent comment on Bitcoin and how it negatively impacts the earth with its so-called unhealthy energy consumption and his announcement that Tesla would no longer accept Bitcoin as payment for its product, although he had not sold and of the company’s initial holdings yet.

Such is Elon's influence that the markets reacted immediately, plunging as much as 14% to his announcement and only stabilized a bit after his announcement that Tesla still held Bitcoin. Although Bitcoin has declined subsequently further since then, losing as much as 51% from its all-time high due to reasons that have nothing to do with Elon, many cryptocurrency enthusiasts and investors still resent what they call his “pessimistic approaches” to the sector and many would no doubt love to get rid of his influence.

For now, however, Elon Musk remains the king of cryptocurrency influencers, a title even his most committed detractors cannot deny.

June 2, 2021