I’m not sure if it was YTCracker who coined the term “Bitcoin Baron,” but I’ve found it fascinating to observe the Bitcoin early adopters who have played public roles in shaping the growth of the ecosystem.
This is not an exhaustive list, nor have the people on it cryptographically proven their bitcoin wealth as far as I know. The following is a list of people who I consider to be quite influencial in the cryptocurrency space and likely have a lot of skin in the game, either by their own admission or considering their early adoption / known business dealings. There are, of course, many other Bitcoin Barons out there who choose to maintain a low profile.
Hal Finney — Heavily involved in the creation of PGP, Finney is believed to be the second person to begin mining bitcoins after Satoshi Nakamoto. He is also the recipient of the first Bitcoin transaction. Unfortunately, Finney was diagnosed with ALS in 2009 and is completely paralyzed; he rarely makes posts due to his condition. You can learn more about Hal’s fascinating history here and he made a post here describing his involvement in the early days of Bitcoin.
Gavin Andresen — One of the few people who had private correspondence with Satoshi, when Satoshi disappeared he handed off development of Bitcoin to Gavin. Now the Chief Scientist of the Bitcoin Foundation, he helps direct the development of the Bitcoin protocol. You can follow him on Twitter at @gavinandresen
Roger Ver — Roger was the CEO of MemoryDealers.com when he discovered Bitcoin in 2011. MemoryDealers became the first mainstream business to accept bitcoins as payment, and Roger has since become a prolific Bitcoin startup angel investor. You can follow him on Twitter at @rogerkver
Erik Voorhees — A serial entrepreneur, Erik created SatoshiDICE, a provably fair gambling app that became immensely popular and he ended up selling for 126,000 BTC. You can follow him on Twitter at @ErikVoorhees
Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss — Famous for suing Mark Zuckerburg with the claim that he stole the idea for Facebook from them, the twins bought 100,000+ bitcoins that they are now using to list a Bitcoin ETF on NASDAQ. You can follow them on Twitter at @winklevoss and @tylerwinklevoss
Chamath Palihapitiya — Facebook co-founder and serial entreprenuer, Chamath views Bitcoin as an innovative financial tool. He has publicly stated that he holds over 100,000 BTC. You can follow him on Twitter at @chamath
Risto Pietila — A Bitcoin trader who is well known on Bitcointalk for his speculation threads. Claims to have been quite wealthy before becoming a Bitcoin early adopter. Recently made news for buying a castle in Estonia that he plans to turn into a hotel / meeting place for Bitcoin Barons. You can find him on BitcoinTalk as rpietila.
YTCracker — Former hacker turned rapper, Bryce Case is a self-professed Bitcoin Baron. He is considered by many to be a founding father of the nerdcore genre of music; he even produced a song called “Bitcoin Baron.” You can follow him on Twitter at @realytcracker
Rick Falkvinge — A Swedish IT entrepreneur who founded the Pirate Party, he is now a political evangelist for its ideas of freedoms of speech and expression. In particular, he stresses how industrial interests of the 1900s are fighting the net’s core values, the ability for everybody to publish their ideas and creations, and how these industries drive us towards a Big Brother society. You can follow him on Twitter at @falkvinge
Barry Silbert — Founder of SecondMarket and the Bitcoin Investment Trust that currently controls 100,000+ coins. Is currently working on bringing the BIT to the OTCQX markets, which should provide more liquidity to the Bitcoin market. You can follow him on Twitter at @barrysilbert
Peter Vessenes — Founder of the Bitcoin Foundation, Vessenes also founded a company called CoinLab that appears to have stalled out since it sued MTGOX for breach of contract. You can follow him on Twitter at @vessenes
Luke Dashjr — A Bitcoin Core developer who runs the Eligius mining pool, Luke is the primary author of the “getblocktemplate” decentralized mining protocol functionality. You can find him on BitcoinTalk as Luke-Jr
Mike Caldwell — Most known for selling physical “Casascius” bitcoins until forced to stop doing so by FinCEN. Now sells the physical coins that have not been loaded with bitcoin. You can find him on BitcoinTalk as Cascascius.
Max Keiser — Probably the most outspoken personality, which makes sense considering that he hosts his own TV show. Max is quite enthusiastic about cryptocurrency, though I often get a “Jim Kramer” vibe from him when he is pushing for people to invest in the altcoin of the week. He lost credibility in my eyes when he rolled out his own cryptocurrency, “Maxcoin,” which was an obvious pump and dump. You can follow him on Twitter at @maxkeiser
Mircea Popescu — One of the most outspoken personalities in the Bitcoin world, Mircea founded MPEx, a trading platform for Bitcoin securities, which made him quite wealthy. He has his good moments such as bailing out OpenBSD and telling the SEC off. However, he looks down on anyone he considers a “Bitcoin noob” and can be quite abrasive in his communications. You can no longer follow him on Twitter at @Mircea_Popescu because his account was banned for “threatening” to kill Andreas Antonopoulos, but he often hangs out on IRC in the #bitcoin-assets channel.
Charlie Shrem — Founded the U.S. based Bitcoin exchange BitInstant, which received $125,000 from angel investor Roger Ver and $1.5 million from a group of investors led by Winklevoss Capital Management. By 2013, BitInstant was processing approximately 30% of all Bitcoin transactions. Charlie was a Bitcoin Foundation Board Member until he was charged by the U.S. Government with failing to report suspicious banking activity and operating an unlicensed money-transmitting business. Shrem’s case has not yet gone to court. You can follow him on Twitter at @CharlieShrem
Mark Karpeles — The founder of the first popular Bitcoin exchange, MTGOX. Unfortunately, MTGOX became so popular that Karpeles quickly found himself in over his head. After suffering numerous performance and security issues, the exchange eventually shut down in a huge scandal with claims of hundreds of thousands of lost or stolen bitcoins. You can follow him on Twitter at @MagicalTux