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17 Most Influential Asian Americans in Blockchain and Cryptocurrency

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A VC told me recently that it’s hard for them focus on anything else except for blockchain and crypto companies. Given the excitement around blockchain, digital currencies, bitcoin, and ICOs, I thought it would be interesting to recognize the Asian Americans that are the most influential to the future of blockchain and cryptocurrency.

This is a pretty wild list, including individuals launching their own tokens, to a journalist, to a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, all the way to investors that are making a mark in the space. Read on to learn about innovative and revolutionary token projects as well as how each person is playing an important part in the development of the blockchain and cryptocurrency field.

Ben Yu

Ben is the co-founder and CEO of Stream, which is building the economic infrastructure to enable a new generation of decentralized streaming applications for content creators. Stream seeks to compete directly with the centralized payment model of YouTube and Twitch by paying creators in cryptocurrency.

Previously, Ben was the co-founder of Sprayable, which develops products that you spray on your skin to get a daily dose of energy or to help you get a more refreshing night’s sleep. Ben is a Harvard dropout who participated in the inaugural class of Thiel Fellows.

Bill Shihara

Bill is the co-founder and CEO of Bittrex, one of the world’s largest crypto trading platforms and exchanges. Bittrex prides itself in being market neutral, having listed and supported hundreds of different cryptocurrencies on its platform. As Bittrex was developed by security professionals, it uses an elastic multi-stage wallet strategy that keeps 80% to 90% of all funds offline. Trading fees are 0.25% and withdrawals are completely free and subject only to the transaction fee specified in the blockchain of the particular cryptocurrency.

Before he co-founded Bittrex, Bill’s first crypto-based business was GiftcardBTC. The site had a simple premise – sell giftcards/phone cards for BTC and take a percentage off the top. When they decided to allow Litecoin on their platform that’s when they realized that there was no programmable way to go from LTC to BTC – that was how Bittrex was born. Before all of that, he was a security engineering manager at Amazon and manager of security threat analysis and security engineering at BlackBerry. He drove the anti-malware and security automation strategy for the BlackBerry ecosystem to protect customers from threats before they happened. Prior to working at BlackBerry, Bill spent 11 years at Microsoft working on the Windows Operating System and the Trustworthy Security team. He is currently an advisor to General Crypto, a cryptocurrency hedge fund, as well as StormX. Bill graduated with an engineering degree from the University of Southern California.

Bobby-Cho

Bobby is the head cryptocurrency trader at Cumberland Mining, which is one of the largest Bitcoin and Ethereum institutional liquidity providers and market makers. Investors contact them to buy or sell $1 Million+ blocks of Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies.

Previously, Bobby was a director at itBit, a Bitcoin exchange. Before that he was a Vice President of SecondMarket, a marketplace for illiquid assets or securities. So, in some ways, Bobby has always gravitated towards illiquid/difficult-to-trade products. He is currently a mentor at Plug and Play accelerator. Bobby graduated with a degree in business administration from Villanova University.

Catheryne Nicholson

Catheryne is the co-founder and CEO of BlockCypher, which developed a cloud-optimized blockchain technology layer, enabling developers and large enterprises to build, monitor and secure blockchain applications. Instead of spending three to six months building out infrastructure before developers can do basic things, if you use an API like BlockCypher, you can get out the gate in just a couple of hours. In the same manner that Amazon Web Services (AWS) has a wide array of services for developers, BlockCypher has an array of web services, APIs, web hooks, web sockets, which a developer can use. Deloitte is one of BlockCypher’s key partners as they pursue their enterprise ambitions. Catheryne says she would like to see more women involved in Bitcoin and blockchain technology as enablers for change.

Catheryne is an engineer, entrepreneur, mother and former U.S. Naval Officer who has designed and built large scale software platforms in education, CRM, energy and emissions management, as well as tactical air mission planning for organizations like C3, Siebel Systems, and Northrop-Grumman. Before BlockCypher, Catheryne was the co-founder and CEO of MommaZoo, which enabled parents and teachers to build school-parent communities to increase parent engagement in classes. Catheryne graduated with a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy, an MBA from City University, and a master’s degree in environmental engineering from Stanford University.

Charlie-Lee

Charlie is the creator of Litecoin, which is a peer-to-peer cryptocurrency that enables instant, near-zero cost payments to anyone in the world. It was among the earliest forks of the Bitcoin Core client when it launched in October 2011 and is considered the silver to Bitcoin’s gold. Litecoin was the first to alter Bitcoin and the most significant difference is that it takes 2.5 minutes for Litecoin to generate a block, or transaction, in comparison to Bitcoin’s 10 minutes. Due to its ease and speed of transacting, Litecoin is currently among the most accepted and valuable cryptocurrencies around the world.

Previously, he was the director of engineering at Coinbase. Before that he was a engineer at Google working on YouTube Mobile, Chrome OS, and Google Play Games. He graduated with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Eric-Tang

Eric is the co-founder and CTO of Livepeer, which aims to deliver a protocol and platform for decentralized live video broadcasting over the internet. Livepeer provides an open platform that gives broadcasters, developers, and users the easy ability to get their content and message out to the world.

Previously, Eric was the co-founder and CTO at Wildcard, a native publishing platform and browser for the mobile web. Before that he was the lead developer for Hyperpublic, an open database and API of people, places, and things tied to a specific location. Eric graduated with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University.

Jen-Hsun Huang

Jen-Hsun is the co-founder and CEO of Nvidia, a Fortune 500 company that designs graphics processing units (GPUs) for the gaming, cryptocurrency, and professional markets. Cryptocurrency miners were born alongside bitcoin in 2009 and soon figured out that the type of math required to mine the digital coins was made faster by introducing graphics cards initially used to improve video game graphics. Therefore, users of digital currencies have been buying up thousands of graphics cards from Nvidia to use in computers that process transactions and create more cryptocurrencies. Predicting the market for graphics cards in cryptocurrency would grow “quite large,” Huang said the sales were “not likely to go away anytime soon. There will be more currencies to come–they will come from different nations. We have the ability to rock and roll with this market as it goes.”

Jen-Hsun was born in Taipei, Taiwan. In 1973, he was 9-years-old and living in Thailand. Worried about the political situation there, his parents decided to send him to live with relatives in the U.S. For reasons he says he still doesn’t understand, the relatives enrolled the brothers in a 300-student Baptist school in tiny Oneida, Kentucky where he was required every day to clean the toilets. He and his brother were the first foreigners ever to attend the school. Nonetheless, he looks on those days as a valuable experience saying, “Now I don’t get scared often. I don’t worry about going places I haven’t gone before and I can tolerate a lot of discomfort.” In the mid-1970s, Jen-Hsun reunited with his parents in Oregon, where he picked up an interest in computers during high school. Huang’s competitive spirit also began to show as he became a nationally ranked ping-pong champ. He studied electrical engineering at Oregon State and then earned his master’s degree at Stanford. Jen-Hsu was hired as a chip designer, first at powerhouse AMD and then at LSI Logic. He went on to found Nvidia on his 30th birthday. Jen-Hsun was recently named Fortune’s Businessperson of the Year for 2017.

Joseph Poon

Joseph is the co-creator of Plasma, which is a scaling solution for Ethereum that allows for the processing of billions of data points per second by creating an ecosystem of interconnected blockchains and integrating privacy-focused cryptographic systems. Scaling became an issue when there was so much traffic from ICO funding that, for the first time, Ethereum users experienced network congestion. Joseph is also the co-creator of the Lightning Network, which set the roadmap for the technology widely touted as Bitcoin’s best shot for overcoming its scaling limitations.

Joseph is currently an advisor and a principal author of OmiseGo, which is a proof-of-stake blockchain, and a decentralized ethereum-based exchange that will use OmiseGo to let crypto investors trade almost any currency, both fiat and crypto, with each other directly rather than through third-party companies. He grew up in Fremont, CA.

Laura Shin

Laura is one of the leading cryptocurrency journalists. She is currently a Forbes senior editor managing crypto and blockchain technology coverage (Bitcoin, Ethereum, ICOs, token sales, etc.) and the co-lead reporter of the Forbes Fintech 50 list. She also produces ‘Unchained’ the blockchain industry’s most-downloaded podcast.

Previously, Laura was a features editor at CBS Interactive’s Smart Planet, a global business innovation publication. Before that she was a senior editor at LearnVest. Laura graduated with a bachelor’s degree in modern thought and literature from Stanford University and holds a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University.

Linda-Xie

Linda is the co-founder and managing director of Scalar Capital, which is a cryptocurrency hedge fund. She has blogged frequently about cryptocurrencies and topics like Beginner’s guide series on cryptoassets, Women in crypto, and How to join the digital currency industry. She is also an advisor to the 0x project.

Previously, Linda was a product manager at Coinbase on the internal tools team. While she was there she also worked with regulators and law enforcement on compliance for digital assets. Prior to Coinbase, she was a portfolio risk analyst at AIG. Linda graduated with a degree in economics from the University of California, San Diego.

Matt Huang

Matt is a partner at Sequoia Capital, one of the most successful VC funds of all time. Despite the risks and the fears of a bitcoin bubble, Sequoia and Matt are leaping in. Matt has led their crypto investments in two blockchain startups — Orchid Labs and Filecoin — and two distinctive cryptocurrency hedge funds, MetaStable and Polychain Capital.

Matt is the former co-founder and CEO of Hotspots, a social media analytics and Y Combinator backed company that was acquired by Twitter. He spent time in Twitter’s ad and revenue analytics team before joining Sequoia Capital. He’s also an angel investor in Instacart, Teespring, Plangrid, Benchling, and Amplitude. He graduated with a degree in mathematics from MIT.

Matthew Liu

Matthew is the co-founder and CEO of Origin, which is a protocol for the sharing economy to bypass intermediaries. Their goal is to decentralize the sharing economy, allowing entrepreneurs to easily build their own decentralized version of Airbnb, Uber, and Craigslist.

Previously, Matthew was the co-founder of PriceSlash, which helped consumers lower their monthly bills by negotiating with service providers. Before that he was a Vice President of product management at Bonobos and Qwicki. He was also a product manager at YouTube and at Google. Matthew graduated with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University and a master’s degree in management science and engineering from Stanford University.

Michael Karnjanaprakorn

Michael is the founder of Turing, a cryptofund that incubates and invests in blockchain companies, projects, and tokens. Turing has invested in Filecoin, 0x, Kyber, Livepeer, OpenToken, among many others. Michael is an advisor for Blockfolio, Fragments, Carbon, and Set.

Michael is also the founder and currently the executive chairman of Skillshare, which is an online learning community with nearly 4 million members. Their mission is to provide universal access to learning and opportunities. Prior to Skillshare, Michael led the product team at Hot Potato, which was acquired by Facebook. He also developed products and services as an early employee at Behance, which was acquired by Adobe. Before getting into technology, he lived in New Orleans, post Katrina, and volunteered at a charter school called Idea Village that helped rebuild the area. He is the first World Series of Poker contestant to donate his entire winnings to charity. He is also a TED Fellow and recognized as one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business. Michael was born in Virginia, but grew up in Seoul, Korea where his father was stationed in the U.S. Army. He moved back to the U.S. when he was 10. Michael graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree from VCU Brandcenter.

Paul Chou

Paul is the co-founder and CEO of LedgerX, the first federally regulated exchange and clearing house to list and clear fully-collateralized, physically-settled Bitcoin swaps and options for the institutional market. LedgerX is registered with the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) as a swap execution facility (SEF) and derivatives clearing organization (DCO).

Previously, Paul was the co-founder of Y Combinator backed Opez, a platform that helped professionals in the service industry keep in touch with their clients on a long-term basis. Prior to Opez, Paul was a trader on the Quantitative Cash Trading desk within the Securities Division of Goldman Sachs, where he was responsible for the development, trading and risk management of algorithmic equity trading strategies for U.S. and Japanese markets. Paul is also a member of the CFTC’s Technology Advisory Committee, which advises on the impact and implications of technological innovations on financial services and the futures markets, including the appropriate legislative and regulatory response to increasing use of technology in the markets. Paul graduated with degrees in computer science and mathematics from MIT.

Paul Veradittakit

Paul is a partner at Pantera Capital, which is a venture capital and hedge fund focused exclusively on tokens and projects related to blockchain technology, digital currency, and crypto assets. Paul has led Pantera Capital’s investments in Polychain Capital, 0x, OmiseGo, Basecoin, Filament, Chain, Kyber, Coins.ph, FunFair, Korbit, Filament, ShapeShift, Veem, Origin, Stream, OpenToken and many others. He is a mentor at Boost VC, Golden Gate Ventures, The House Fund, and Alchemist Accelerator. He is also an advisor to the Blockchain Education Network, ICON Foundation, Orchid Labs, Origin, Cofound.it, and Enigma.

Previously, Paul worked at Strive Capital as an associate focusing on investments in the mobile space. Before that, he was at Hatch Consulting and LECG. Prior to that, he performed business development and marketing for Urban Spoils, an early stage startup in the daily deal aggregation space. Paul graduated with degrees in psychology and political science from the University of California, Berkeley.

Richard Ma

Richard is the co-founder and CEO of Quantstamp, a Y Combinator backed company that aims to bring transparency and security to smart contract blockchain projects. Quantstamp is launching the world’s first decentralized automated security auditing platform for smart contracts. Designed to detect security vulnerabilities such as the Parity wallet hack, Quantstamp is a specialized token-based verification and bounty platform.

Previously, Richard was involved in algorithmic and high frequency trading as a trading fund manager, senior quantitative strategist, portfolio manager, and quant derivatives trader with Bitcoin HFT Fund, Tower Research Capital, Palladion Capital, and Archelon Group. Richard graduated with a degree in electrical computer engineering from Cornell University.

Simon Yu

Simon is the co-founder and CEO of StormX, a blockchain-based platform utilizing smart contracts on Ethereum to manage gamified micro-tasks between buyers and sellers through rewards. StormX has strategic collaborations with Alchemist Ventures, QTUM, Changelly, Zencash, Kyber Network, Bancor, and Jaxx to expand the platform’s global presence and enhance the utility of STORM tokens.

Previously, Simon was the co-founder and CEO of CakeCodes, which had an app that allowed users to earn Bitcoins and Ethereum by testing games and apps. This allowed users who didn’t want to mine or buy digital currency an alternative way to acquire it. They have one million+ downloads, 50,000+ reviews in the Google Play store, and active users in over 180+ countries. This was the predecessor to StormX. When Simon was 19, his parents’ small business started to fail, so he was forced to drop out of college and worked full-time as a senior credit risk analyst at KeyBank to save money for college tuition. During the evenings and weekends, he utilized his mother’s recipe and began delivering Korean tacos to college students. The company that came from that, Bomba Fusion, became Seattle’s first Korean Mexican food truck. Simon graduated with a degree in business administration from the University of Washington.

Thank you to my collaborator Paul Veradittakit and my amazing editor Virginia Lin for helping make this possible.

About the Author: Bob Wu is currently the CEO and co-founder of Teleport, one of the first companies built on Uber’s API. He is also a Venture Partner with Social Starts, a seed stage venture capital firm. 





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