The first incarnation of Fortune’s under 40 list ran from 1999-2003 and ranked the new titans of the dot-com boom purely based on their wealth. Post-2008 financial crash, the list has been reinvented to take the pulse of figures’ wider achievements, power, and influence on the global stage.
This year, Ethereum (ETH) co-founder Vitalik Buterin, 24, has sealed a spot on the list for the third year running, ranked 22nd and hailed as a “skinny visionary,” whose “experiment” has become the second-most valuable crypto invention after Bitcoin (BTC).
The characterization builds on something of a trend, with Buterin last year styled as a “twiggy, Russia-born software developer” as he ranked 10th, and his 2016 list debut at 31st place painting a precocious portrait of his childhood love for Microsoft Excel.
This year, Fortune draws attention to the “lucky break” represented by the Security and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) recent decision not to regulate ether as a security, and also notes that Buterin has recently allegedly declined to work for tech giant Google and remain native to the crypto sphere.
Brian Armstrong, 34, the CEO of major U.S. crypto exchange and wallet service Coinbase, has made the list for the second time, ranked 20th. Last year, he scored 10th place after Coinbase was valued at $1.6 billion in fall 2017, becoming the first so-called “unicorn” of the blockchain industry. This year, Fortune nods towards the “tantalizing financial licenses” that could unleash Coinbase’s influence yet further.
Russian developer Pavel Durov, 33, has been ranked 25th, appearing on the list for the first time. Durov founded popular social networking site VKontakte, as well as the the encrypted chat app Telegram, which has drawn 200 million users. This March, Telegram concluded two $850 million Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) to launch a native token, bringing its total ICO earnings to $1.7 billion.
In 24th place are Vlad Tenev, 31, and Baiji Bhatt, 33, “Stanford math whizzes” and co-CEOs of the brokerage app Robinhood, which has has been offering a zero-fee crypto trading platform in selected U.S. states since February. The project, which recently raised $363 million in funding to expand crypto trading support U.S.-wide, has a $5.6 billion valuation that catapulted it to becoming the second most valuable American fintech startup.
Fortune’s crypto industry representatives have thus more than doubled their presence over the last year.