In the world of cryptocurrency, fortunes can be made overnight, and the winners of this digital lottery differ from those in previous manias. The shadowy beginnings, at once anarchistic, utopian and libertarian, have drawn an odd lot of pioneers—from antiestablishment cypherpunks and electricity-guzzling “miners” to prescient Silicon Valley financiers and a larger-than-usual assortment of the just plain lucky “hodlers,” the typo-inspired crypto jargon for “buy-and-hold” investors.
Given this universe’s opaqueness and hyper-volatility, we’re presenting our first-ever list of the richest people in cryptocurrency in net-worth estimates in ranges. We based our numbers on estimated holdings of cryptocurrencies (a few provided proof), post-tax profits from trading crypto-assets and stakes in crypto-related businesses, and locked in our estimates using prices on Jan. 19, 2018.
It’s a near certainty that we’ve missed some people and that some of our estimates are wide of the mark. But this was equally true when we launched the first Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans in 1982. At the time, many people said we couldn’t—or shouldn’t—publish. We did so anyway, firm in the belief that we made the world a better place by shining a light on the invisible rich. And we believe this report on crypto wealth accomplishes the same goal, as Forbes Editor Randall Lane explains in his editor’s letter. Fortunes of this magnitude should never be allowed to lurk in the shadows.