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The most influential women in crypto

The world of cryptocurrencies with its blockchain technologies, cryptographic protocols, and virtual money can be complex and even incomprehensible at times. This couldn’t be further from the truth, however, when it comes to the seven women we’ll be putting in the spotlight in this article. We’ve combined a guide to the women currently calling the shots in the crypto industry.

Nicole Muniz (CEO of Yuga Labs)

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One of the most influential women in cryptocurrency and Web3. Since 2021, she has been CEO of Yuga Labs (the creators of the famous Bored Ape Yacht Club monkey NFT collection). Prior to this, she worked at JWT and B-Reel, and was the Founder and Managing Director of creative agency Something New.

During Muniz’s tenure as CEO, Yuga Labs and Bored Ape Yacht Club have become household names, and the BAYC collection is now synonymous with NFTs all over the world.

Muniz oversaw the launch of BAYC’s metaverse project Otherside, played a key role in Yuga Labs’ acquisition of the popular NFT collections CryptoPunks and Meebits, and has led most of the company’s key strategic initiatives.

In 2022, Nicole Muniz was named in the 40 Under 40 annual list of influential young leaders by Fortune magazine, in recognition of her work leading the Yuga Labs team and BAYC.

In 2023, Nicole will step down as CEO and stay on at Yuga Labs as strategic consultant and partner.

Elizabeth Stark (Co-Founder and CEO of Lightning Labs)  

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A leading woman in crypto and a researcher, legal expert, computer scientist and blockchain entrepreneur. Elizabeth Stark has taught courses at Stanford and Yale on P2P networking, privacy and other fields in tech.

In 2016, Elizabeth co-founded Lightning Labs – the developer of Lightning Network, a Layer 2 protocol built on top of the Bitcoin blockchain – and works at the company to this day.

Stark is also an employee of the non-profit organization Coin Center, which advocates for public policy initiatives that support cryptocurrencies.

Cynthia Lummis (US Senator)

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A Senator and one of the first Bitcoin advocates in the United States Congress, Cynthia Lummis herself first purchased BTC in 2013.

Lummis studied at the University of Wyoming and in 1979, shortly after her graduation, she joined the U.S. House of Representatives and was later elected state treasurer. Before running for the United States Senate, the Republican Lummis represented her state in the House of Representatives between 2009 and 2017. In 2021, she became the first woman to represent the interests of Wyoming’s population of around 600,000 in the Senate.

As a Senator, Lummis has supported laws that promote the use of cryptocurrency in the USA on multiple occasions, and in 2021 she helped to launch the Senate Financial Innovation Caucus.

A Bitcoin investor herself, Cynthia even spoke out after the market crash, saying that she was not concerned.

She is expected to remain in her post until 2027. Lummis currently sits on the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, which is led by Sherrod Brown. As it happens, Brown has proposed a full-scale ban on cryptocurrency, which he claims is too frequently linked with cybercrime, drugs, human trafficking and the financing of terrorism.

Caitlin Long (Founder and CEO of Custodia Bank)

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Wyoming, it seems, is something of a hotspot for influential women in crypto. Caitlin Long, like Senator Cynthia Lummis, is a Wyoming native. She has become one of the biggest names in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space thanks to her longstanding interest in the sector and her tireless work to promote digital asset reform and adoption, especially in her home state.

Caitlin Long is an entrepreneur, Wall Street veteran and public speaker who has been an advocate for Bitcoin since 2012. She is a regular attendee at conferences and other crypto events.

During her time on Wall Street, Long served as managing director at financial conglomerates Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley. In 2016, she began to focus on blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies in her professional activities.

For several years, she was Chairman of the Board and President of the Symbiont.io smart contract platform. In 2020, she founded Custodia Bank and became its CEO. She is currently Chairman of WyoHackathon.

Caitlin is hugely optimistic about the future of crypto as a whole and Bitcoin in particularly, despite the collapse of several major crypto market players in 2022.

Meltem Demimors (Chief Strategy Officer of CoinShares)

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Meltem Demimors is the Chief Strategy Officer at CoinShares, Europe’s largest digital asset trading and investment group, which is also working to develop cryptocurrency infrastructure, financial products and services. Demimors is a regular guest lecturer at the MIT Media Lab.

In 2022, Demirors advocated for cryptocurrencies and other digital assets to be traded on traditional financial markets.

Meltem herself invests in numerous blockchain projects including Blockade Games, XMTP, ClayStack, Syndicate, SmartDeFi, Showtime and Upshot.

Demimors expects that Bitcoin will break the USD 30,000 barrier this year and go on to reach a new all-time high in 2024.

Meltem Demirors is expected to make a significant contribution to the development of policy recommendations on crypto and blockchain industry regulation.

Sheila Warren (CEO of the Crypto Council for Innovation)

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Sheila began her career on Wall Street and later held senior positions at NGOsource, BRIDGE and TechSoup before joining the World Economic Forum in 2017 as Founding Head of the Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology Platform. She later became a Member of the Executive Committee and Head of Data, Blockchain and Digital Assets at the World Economic Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution , an international nongovernmental lobbying organization.  

In February 2022, Warren was named CEO of the Crypto Council for Innovation (CCI), a global alliance founded to showcase the potential of cryptocurrencies and educate regulators, policymakers and stakeholders all over the world. Warren undertook responsibility for developing these initiatives and leading the process.

Sheila believes that regulation is coming to the crypto market in the near future and the course set by policy today will determine the trajectory of development for the entire crypto ecosystem far into the future.

Cathy Wood (Founder and CEO of ARK Invest)

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ARK Investment Management, or ARK Invest, is an American investment company founded by CEO Cathy Wood, managing an investor asset portfolio worth over USD 6 billion as of January 2023.

Wood studied Economics at the University of Southern California under renowned economist Arthur Laffer.

Before founding her own company, Cathy Wood worked as a chief economist, analyst, portfolio manager and managing director at Jennison Associates, and later served as Chief Investment Officer of Global Thematic Strategies at AllianceBernstein. Wood founded ARK Investment Management in 2014 after the AllianceBernstein leadership failed to support her proposals for investment in breakthrough innovations.

ARK Invest funds high-tech companies in fields such as self-driving cars, genetics, robotics, artificial intelligence, the blockchain and other innovative technologies.

In 2022, Cathy Wood’s fund acquired USD 12 million in Tesla shares, 176,945 Grayscale Bitcoin Trust shares worth USD 1.5 million, and 158,000 shares in Coinbase.

Wood is a staunch believer in the future of the crypto sector, despite all the turmoil it has faced over the last year. The ARK Invest head views Bitcoin as the best defence against loss of wealth and an insurance policy for developing countries. She shared her views in an interview with Yahoo Finance.

“There’s hyperinflation all over the world as currencies have fallen apart. Those populations need a fallback – an insurance policy like Bitcoin,”  Wood commented.

In 2023, Cathy Wood is likely to continue investing in crypto projects, and her firm belief in the crypto space is unlikely to waver any time soon.

There are increasing numbers of women in leadership positions in the high-tech industries. Even in the traditionally masculine crypto space, women are having an ever greater influence on the future of the industry.