In this article we will go over the five most important people in the Bitcoin community. The first name that comes to mind for many is probably Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto, but we are going to skip him. Why? Because we don’t know who he actually is, or if “he” is even a single person. Plus, there are already articles upon articles regarding the enigmatic Nakamoto. Instead, we are going to focus on the people who we actually know and who are actively working on Bitcoin.
First up is Gavin Andresen, the chief scientist at the Bitcoin Foundation and one of the earliest supporters of Bitcoin. Gavin is a computer programming whiz and his work has been one of the keys to success in the rise of Bitcoin. Just how good has Andresen’s work been? When Satoshi decided to hand of the sourceforge code, he gave it to Andresen. Now, Andresen is a key player in directing the efforts of the Bitcoin Foundation which works to protect, standardize, and promote Bitcoin.
The next most important person in the Bitcoin community is arguably Mark Karpeles, the owner of the world’s largest Bitcoin exchange, Mt. Gox. It’s difficult to overestimate the importance of Mt. Gox. Without exchanges like Mt. Gox, Bitcoin would essentially be worthless. Exchanges are important because they allow people to quickly convert Bitcoin into other currencies. This makes Bitcoin a liquid asset, much like any other currency. Mt. Gox essentially sets world prices, and many believe that if Mt. Gox should collapse, the entire Bitcoin currency would collapse. In short, Mt. Gox is the Bitcoin equivalent to the New York Stock Exchange. Mark’s position as the owner of Mt. Gox gives him a tremendous amount of clout in the Bitcoin community
Next up is Hal Finney. Another programming wizard, Hal is responsible for PGP, an early public key cryptology program that greatly aided the development of Bitcoin. Hal was also the first recipient of a Bitcoin transaction and was the first person to discover the “double spending attack” that once threatened Bitcoin. This attack was one of the first and most serious attacks on Bitcoin. Hal has also worked on numerous other security challenges and issues with code. Without Hal, Bitcoin may not have survived through these early challenges. Unfortunately, Hal’s contributions have started to decline as Lou Gehrig’s Disease has left him largely disabled.
Another important Bitcoin community member goes under the online name “ArtForz”. He developed the first GUI Bitcoin mining rig, thus revolutionizing the mining process. At one point in time, ArtForz controlled a lion’s share of computing power dedicated to Bitcoin. While he now controls less than one percent of computing power, his contributions and revolutionary work has not diminished in importance. Further, he has also identified and worked on major bugs.
Nils Schneider is another important power player. The owner of “Bitcoin Watch”, Nils controls powerful information sites, such as bitcoincharts.com. His network of websites are essential for monitoring developments and disseminating information. This puts Nils in position to act as one of the most powerful and widely read voices regarding Bitcoin.
There are plenty of other important figures in the Bitcoin community. Problem is, many of them remain anonymous or are difficult to find information on. For example, the most powerful single organization in the Bitcoin community right now is arguably the BTC Guild. BTC is one of the largest Bitcoin miners in the world and at times has neared 51 percent of mining power. If BTC ever takes 51 percent, it would essentially give them control of Bitcoin, allowing them to double spend and perform other illicit activities. It would be interesting to learn who created and controls the BTC guild, but little information is available.
So while Bitcoin is indeed a decentralized currency, that doesn’t mean there are no power players. While the currency will remain an open source and community driven effort in the years to come, the simple fact is that there are indeed some “firsts among equals” in the Bitcoin community. Knowing these power players may prove vital for people investing in Bitcoin. Their actions and decisions can have profound impacts on Bitcoin as a whole.