In the past few years, the crypto industry has expanded dramatically, with many branches sprouting from this ever-growing wisdom tree. Although the industry has matured, the crypto market is still young and an ideal playground for any entrepreneurship mindset.
Fortunately, women have taken the opportunity to leap into the crypto gold rush, and their efforts are already bearing fruit with notable contributions and successes in the crypto industry.
Crypto trending toward more women’s inclusion
Crypto has many sectors, but its core functionality comes from the fusion of tech and finance. Both sectors have been typically male-dominated, but more women are getting into the crypto industry as investors, founders or part of the workforce.
A 2022 diversity study by Forex Suggest examined the board members of the 30 biggest crypto companies.
Although there has been some success, such as Chainalysis, with almost 50% representation of women among its board members, much work needs to be done. Many companies struggle to have more than 20% female representation or even one woman in board or senior positions.
Crypto has been accused of having a “bro” culture, but it seems to be maturing in another direction. The growth of female representation in the crypto scene was apparent at crypto gatherings throughout 2023. Victoria Gago, co-CEO of the European Blockchain Convention (ECB), confirmed to Cointelegraph that female attendees and speakers have grown steadily. While it was challenging to find female representatives in the crypto scene years ago, women represented 30% of the speakers at the latest ECB.
Furthermore, Generation Z and Generation Y (millennial) females who are new to investing are willing to put their money in crypto before anything else.
Most influential woman in crypto in 2023
As 2023 ends, it’s time to recognize some of the most hard-working and influential women in crypto, all of whom have added value to the entire crypto ecosystem. They’ll be listed in no specific order, and Cointelegraph congratulates and thanks them for their efforts.
Cathie Wood: Trader of the year
Cathie Wood’s playground seems to be the financial sector. She worked for several hedge funds as a portfolio manager before founding ARK Investment Management in 2014. As of January 2023, the United States-based investment firm manages over $6 billion in investor assets.
As ARK’s CEO and chief investment officer, Wood has been a prominent person in the recent bear market. Even in the depths of crypto winter, Wood made strategic and successful purchases.
A significant part of this success was her bet on Coinbase. Wood bought Coinbase stock despite an open lawsuit from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) concerning its staking-as-a-service program. She purchased almost three million shares in the first and second quarters of 2023 at an average price of $59 per share. ARK also purchased Coinbase shares after the price plummeted nearly 20% overnight after the SEC accusations became public. In the fourth quarter of 2023, as the Coinbase share price surged, ARK began a sell-off of its exposure, following the trader’s textbook strategy of buying the dip and selling the rip.
It seems that Wood had a good instinct for forecasting the crypto market. She also gambled on the possible fall of Binance in the U.S. market, which would benefit her investment in Coinbase, as she highlighted in an interview with Bloomberg in June:
“We have Binance under increasing regulatory scrutiny for more criminal activities, fraud being one of them; therefore, we have the competition for Coinbase disappearing, so that’s a good thing longer term for Coinbase.”
Just a few months later, former Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao pleaded guilty to charges levied against him by the U.S. Department of Justice and was forced to resign as CEO in a plea deal with U.S. authorities. Since November, ARK has been taking profits from its Coinbase trade as Wood’s flagship Ark Innovation ETF enjoyed a 30% rally.
Wood may be considered one of the best high-level traders of the year. The ARK CEO recently showed her interest in the latest hot trend within crypto traders, the convergence between crypto and AI.
The convergence between Bitcoin - and AI could transform the way companies organize, causing a collapse in costs and an explosion in productivity. I was blown away by the possibilities these brilliant entrepreneurs are creating. Look for this podcast on Thursday! https://t.co/kPW92CuhFQ— Cathie Wood (@CathieDWood) September 2, 2023
She’s also busy pushing for ARK’s own spot Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) to be approved. Wood is also a Bitcoin (BTC) bull, suggesting BTC will hit $1.48 million per coin by 2030.
Tiffany Fong: The crypto whistleblower
Tiffany Fong, a content creator who shuns the term influencer, was sucked into crypto when a relative gave her Bitcoin as a Christmas gift in 2011. She became known to the crypto community due to the leaked information provided to her regarding Celsius and FTX.
While the Celsius storm was ongoing, convicted crypto criminal and former FTX CEO Sam “SBF” Bankman-Fried contacted her. After several messages, Fong conducted a telephone interview with a non-journalistic purpose, which she later made public. Within several controversial comments, SBF would admit to Fong that he made secret donations to the U.S. Republican party, and journalists would freak out as they are all “super liberal.”
According to Fong, SBF wanted to use her to clarify that he did not pay the $250 million cash for his bail. To her disbelief, Fong unwittingly became an influential source in one of the most significant crypto industry cases of 2023.
look ma, i’m on the front page of the New York Times stating, “I don’t know why I’m here.” pic.twitter.com/FycnfzhdeQ— Tiffany Fong (@TiffanyFong_) October 22, 2023
In 2023, she extensively covered SBF’s trial for a new series on her YouTube channel. There may be future surprises, too, as she claims to have many unpublished saved documents of interactions with SBF, including audio recordings.
Hester Piece: The Gary Gensler antagonist
The SEC has defined 2023 in crypto, and under its previous Chair, Jay Clayton, the SEC lit a fuse under the crypto industry in 2020 by launching its case against Ripple for allegedly conducting a $1.3 billion securities fraud via sales of XRP (XRP) to retail investors. Gary Gensler took over as chair of the SEC in 2021 with a more aggressive approach. The SEC upped the ante in 2023 when it filed lawsuits against Kraken and Coinbase for operating as unregistered securities exchanges.
Members of the U.S. Congress and relevant crypto industry actors openly criticized Gensler’s actions. U.S. lawmakers filed the SEC Stabilization Act, which asked for Gensler to be fired. Other proposals even tried to cut his salary to $1.
Gensler’s so-called “regulation through enforcement” has many detractors, even inside the SEC itself. Hester Pierce, a lawyer and a commissioner in the SEC, has been vocal about her disagreement with the organization’s chief, declaring Gensler’s approach to spot Bitcoin ETF applications is inconsistent.
Speaking to Cointelegraph at the Permissionless II conference in Austin, Texas, on Sept. 11, Peirce said she wouldn’t have expected the SEC to be “this far behind” in finding a solution for a regulatory framework on cryptocurrencies.
Other countries have created clear guidelines and may be attracting potential crypto companies from the United States. Pierce believes it’s not too late and has asked crypto firms not to give up on the United States. The key to a reconciliation between regulators and the crypto industry may be working together instead of against each other.
The SEC is a regulatory agency with an enforcement division, not an enforcement agency. Why are we leading with enforcement in crypto?— Hester Peirce (@HesterPeirce) May 3, 2022
Many crypto advocates would love to see her as the substitute for Gensler. For now, the crypto community thanks her for her brave stance against Gensler’s approach to the U.S. crypto industry.
Sandy Kaul: Bringing institutional investors to crypto
Sandy Kaul is head of digital asset and industry advisory services at Franklin Templeton, an investment fund manager with around $1.4 trillion in assets under management. Her relationship with crypto goes back to when she discovered the potential of Ethereum’s smart contracts in 2016.
Kaul has advocated for investment funds to allocate a certain percentage to Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. Franklin Templeton filed for a spot Bitcoin ETF in September 2023. Along with other applicants, it’s in the race to be the first spot Bitcoin ETF to be approved by the SEC.
Kaul is pushing for BTC to be adopted as a store of value. She is of the opinion that companies should allocate a certain percentage of their treasuries to Bitcoin. In an interview with Bitcoin educator Natalie Brunell, she even called for every nation to have Bitcoin in its treasuries.
Franklin Templeton’s approach toward crypto may be influenced by Kaul’s sound understanding of the sector’s potential.
Elizabeth Stark: The light after the tunnel
Elizabeth Stark is the co-founder and CEO of Lightning Labs, the company behind the Lightning Network (LN) layer-2 scaling solution for Bitcoin.
Stark is managing one of the most important projects to make BTC optimal to be used as a currency for daily transactions and fulfilling Satoshi Nakamoto’s vision of using Bitcoin as peer-to-peer digital cash. In order for a store of value asset like Bitcoin to also serve as a currency, the Bitcoin network required a layer-2 scaling solution like the Lightning Network.
Over the past two years, Stark’s team has helped the Lightning Network grow over 1,200% in terms of routed transactions.
Developers have implemented a proposed enforcement layer for the LN that allows any later channel state to replace any earlier channels. This upgrade simplifies channel management by allowing users to revise outdated channel states without broadcasting the entire history on the blockchain. The update may enable users to resolve disputes and minimize transaction costs efficiently.
A strong state of LN means a robust base for its use cases.
Cynthia Lummis: Regulating the good and evil of crypto
U.S. Senator Cynthia Lummis has been publicly open about owning Bitcoin. She has declared that she bought her first BTC as early as 2013, so she’s been dubbed the “Crypto Queen.”
Due to the FTX collapse, Lummis and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand introduced the Responsible Financial Innovation Act.
As a politician, Lummis has highlighted the positive side of Bitcoin mining, a hot topic that could easily backlash. She mentioned how Bitcoin mining could help stabilize the energy grid and declared that “Bitcoin is cleaning up the environment” when used to recycle the misuse of energy.
Lummis has also tried to tackle the illicit use of cryptocurrencies. She led the charge by calling for U.S. Department of Justice action against Binance and Tether due to the suspicion of facilitating funds to Hamas.
When it comes to illicit finance, crypto is not the enemy - bad actors are.— Senator Cynthia Lummis (@SenLummis) October 26, 2023
I sent a letter asking DOJ to finish its investigation and consider criminal charges against Binance and Tether after reports they served as intermediaries for Hamas and engaged in illicit activities. pic.twitter.com/M3KGNFkpWc
For a politician to place blame on the illicit actors rather than on Bitcoin itself is refreshing, considering other senators, such as Elizabeth Warren, regularly bash Bitcoin.
Crypto: A golden opportunity for women
Crypto is like the gold rush of the 19th century but in a different format. The novel industry requires all sorts of talent, and there is room for everybody. Diversity in the workforce has proven to make companies more efficient, as there is less “groupthink” and a more open approach, boosting creativity.
Two centuries ago, the concept of women’s equality barely existed. However, crypto presented a level-playing field for women and men and financial inclusion, with countless women contributing daily to the growth of crypto and Web3.
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