It seems like everyone, overnight, has magically developed an opinion on cryptocurrency. It may be well-informed thanks to hours of copious research and comparing growth rates of various currencies while running complex simulations to understand market volatility. But it’s also just as likely that their interest was sparked by a piece of spam email telling them it’s a way to get rich quick. It’s hard to know who you should really trust.
You may want to dip your toe into cryptocurrency investing (or even jump into the deep end) – but who should you trust? While mining for bitcoin has been around for 10 years, mainstream coverage and analysis on the topic is still in its infancy. To understand who current cryptocurrency enthusiasts trust, we spoke to over 500 people to get a sense of whose words are worth their weight in coin.
The Voices of Blockchain
If it’s not MSNBC’s Jim Cramer of Mad Money that blockchain-based currency investors are turning to for advice, who wields the most influence in this investment sphere? Combining social media reach with the opinions of over 500 blockchain enthusiasts, it was John McAfee who was seen as the most influential voice in this domain.
McAfee, known by many as the eccentric man behind their computer’s antivirus software, is all-in with blockchain. He preaches against the “mainstream media – controlled by the existing power structure” and frequently extols the virtues of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies via Twitter.
The two other individuals in the top three, Vitalik Buterin and Charlie Lee, have one major accomplishment in common: Both played a key role in creating a popular cryptocurrency. Buterin, the creator of Ethereum, recently made Fortune’s “40 Under 40” thanks to his crypto creation, which is just shy of a $22 billion market valuation. Lee, an ex-Google employee, hit it out of the park with Litecoin, his second attempt at launching a cryptocurrency. He currently works on this project full-time.
The Common (Crypto)Currency
If you cast these influencers’ social media followings aside, focusing exclusively on their trust factor, McAfee still got top billing. This could be due to the fact he has “pledged his undying allegiance to bitcoin, promising to hold the currency for a minimum of 18 months in hopes of a 100% return on his initial investment – at minimum. That type of commitment projects a very high level of confidence, which may help other players in this sphere feel more comfortable trusting his advice.
However, it wasn’t Ethereum creator Buterin or LiteCoin mastermind Lee that blockchain enthusiasts looked to as their second-most trusted advisor – it was Justin Wu. As the co-founder and organizer of BlockchainNW, Seattle’s first blockchain conference, Wu also help to launch Blocknauts, a token growth advisory company. The “hackapreneur” can be found trotting the globe, from Hong Kong to Amsterdam to San Francisco and beyond, participating in or speaking at many prestigious cryptocurrency conferences.
Sharing on Social
With over a million combined followers across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube, it was McAfee who was once again the most-followed influencer. However, almost 85 percent of his followers came from one social network – Twitter. It is there that he openly shares his personal successes – such as the purchase of a $400,000 car and yacht – as a way to help remind people why they follow him: his winning investments. Cryptocurrency creators Buterin and Lee took the second- and third-place slots.
Marc Andreessen, a seed investor in Facebook and owner of the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, was the next-highest on the list. However, visitors heading to his Twitter profile to gauge his feeling on cryptomarket fluctuations may be disappointed: Andreessen doesn’t spend much time sharing his high-value purchases or investment tips on Twitter. Instead, he shares books he’s been reading with his followers.
It doesn’t matter if you are a Gen-Xer or a millennial: Those who are into blockchain followed John McAfee, period. Given his follower count of over one million, this shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. Second and third place, however, were occupied by entirely different pundits between the two generations.
Gen X respondents looked to Buterin and Cameron Winklevoss, a bitcoin billionaire. You may know him as one of the twin brothers who famously received a settlement from Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg after disputing who really came up with the idea for the social network. Meanwhile, it was hackapreneur Justin Wu and LiteCoin founder Charlie Lee who garnered millennials’ social media attention.
There was a significant lack of representation of women in these rankings. However, female respondents followed Christine Lu, who has been involved in cross-border business dealings between China and the United States for over 20 years more than anyone else, including the famed McAfee.
Whether our respondents were red-state Republicans or blue-state Democrats, political affiliation was no match for the infectious popularity of John McAfee. He swept first place among both parties, though respondents reported differing opinions aside from that. Justin Wu, the only other influencer who made it into both camps’ top fives, was the Democrats’ fourth most followed influencer. Republicans had him in third place.
What was perhaps more telling were the individuals who only appeared on one, but not both, of these lists. Charlie Lee made the top five among Republicans interested in cryptocurrency, but not Democrats. By the same token, Vitalik Buterin, Cameron Winklevoss, and Bobby Lee all earned a top five spot among Democrats, but didn’t make the Republican list at all. As is the case with many policy issues, these enthusiasts were on two different sides of the bitcoin when it came to trusted influencers.
When it comes to influencing the decisions of blockchain investors, its John McAfee’s world – we just live in it. While age, gender, and political opinion did dictate the influencer rankings following McAfee’s nearly universal first-place spot, many names continued to come up as being worthwhile follows to ride the wave of cryptocurrency investing.
People seemed to seek out not only those who have a strong financial background, but those who understand the technology to the point that they’ve created their own currencies – much like Charlie Lee and Vitalik Buterin. Their grasp on the market, informed by a deep understanding of the framework upon which it is built, makes them influential in many more ways than one. If you’re excited about blockchain technology or eager to invest in a new cryptocurrency then check out clovr.com to store a new coin in your digital wallet!
We compiled a list of nearly 80 blockchain influencers with various backgrounds relating to the space. We then surveyed 500 self-proclaimed blockchain enthusiasts about the influencers they follow for blockchain-related insights, updates, and predictions. To qualify as a blockchain enthusiast, participants must have formerly or currently invested in blockchain tech, or cryptocurrencies, as well as actively follow(ed) influencers for news and tips. The main limitation of this project is that we were not able to include every blockchain influencer, or pundit, in the initial survey – only common names found across multiple reputable sources were used.
To determine the most influential people in blockchain, we created a meta-ranking using total social media followings from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube as well as rankings from the survey data of the 500 blockchain enthusiasts. We scraped the number of followers for each influencer on August 9, 2018.
Of the total 500 respondents, 26 percent were female and 74 percent male. Participants ranged in age from 18 to 73 with an average age of 32 and a standard deviation of 7.5. Furthermore, 42 percent of respondents were Republican and 56 reported as Democrats – all other political parties were excluded due to insufficient sample sizes.
Fair Use Statement
Did our findings help you find the right blockchain mind to follow for predictions and updates? We encourage you to share the results of our study with your audience to help them step up their blockchain game. Simply provide a link back to this page to show our project in its entirety and so our contributors receive credit for their hard work.