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Six People Who Became Crypto Billionaires

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There’s no shortage of stories about smart or lucky investors making millions of dollars from well-timed crypto trades, particularly in the pre-winter boom years. The people who built the systems developed the software and founded the companies that those investors use, on the other hand, earned not millions, but billions.

The world of blockchain billionaires is a very small and exclusive fraternity. Not only aren’t there many of them, but their ranks include several partners who both got rich at the same time after co-founding the same company together.

Keep reading to meet the crypto billionaires who made a fortune building the blockchain world that many mainstream Americans are just learning about now.

  1. Fred Ehrsam

Fred Ehrsam first learned about digital currency as an avid “World of Warcraft” player. In 2012, he co-founded Coinbase with Brian Armstrong, who also appears on this list. Coinbase went on to become the biggest cryptocurrency brokerage in America.

According to Forbes, Ehrsam still owns 6% of the company and sits on the board despite leaving Coinbase in 2017. One year later in 2018, he founded the crypto investment firm Paradigm.

  1. Michael Saylor

Michael Saylor was a billionaire, then he wasn’t, and now he is again. The MIT grad and former rocket scientist founded the business analytics software firm MicroStrategy in 1989. He rode the dotcom wave to a 10-figure net worth until the dotcom bust ended his stint as a billionaire.

According to Forbes, he reclaimed membership in the three-comma club with a well-timed purchase of tens of thousands of bitcoins.

  1. Jed McCaleb

Few billionaire crypto pioneers go back as far as Jed McCaleb, who founded Mt. Gox in 2010 as the first legitimate cryptocurrency exchange. Mt. Gox has been a notorious part of crypto folklore since the exchange was hacked in the tumultuous early days of Bitcoin.

McCaleb sold Mt. Gox one year before the hack. Two years later in 2012, he co-founded Ripple with Chris Larsen — more on him shortly — and according to Forbes, that’s where he made his real money. McCaleb received 9 billion XRP as a Ripple founder, and it’s estimated that he still owns 3.4 billion, which represents the bulk of his wealth.

  1. Devin Finzer

Blockchain billionaire Devin Finzer made his fortune not in cryptocurrencies, but in NFTs. The CEO and co-founder of the NFT marketplace OpenSea, Finzer previously worked as a software engineer for Pinterest.

In 2021, when investors valued his company at $13.3 billion, Finzer and OpenSea co-founder Alex Atallah became the world’s first NFT billionaires, according to Forbes.

  1. Alex Atallah

OpenSea co-founder and CTO Alex Atallah share the title of the world’s first NFT billionaire with fellow co-founder Devin Finzer. Both he and Finzer own an estimated 18% of the $13.3 billion NFT marketplace, according to Forbes.

  1. Nikil Viswanathan

Nikil Viswanathan co-founded Alchemy with Joe Lau in 2020, and today, thousands of blockchain and Web3 companies rely on the company’s software. Before founding Alchemy, the duo — both Stanford grads — built Down to Lunch, a meetup app that at one point was No. 1 in the Apple Store.

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Four Ways AI Can Improve Your Next Meeting

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It may not be noticeable to most, but AI is now rooted in many aspects of our lives. From voice assistants to the cars we drive, to social media and shopping – AI is integrated into a multitude of everyday processes.

It should be of little surprise that AI is also becoming heavily embedded in our businesses. And while some people feel uncomfortable about this intersection of human and machine, it truly offers an abundance of transformative opportunities.

Here are four reasons why AI will continue to be important today and in the future:

  1. Automated note-taking allows brainstorms to go full speed

The days of being the meeting scribe and not absorbing what’s been said around you are over. Automated note-taking and accurate meeting transcripts are one of the simplest ways AI can help free up meeting attendees to focus on the discussion taking place.

Using this software means that transcripts can be searched for important keywords and ideas, allowing participants to fully absorb details after the meeting has concluded. Giving everyone at the meeting the ability to participate without the burden of constant note-taking fosters a lively and uninhibited discussion, encouraging a seamless flow of ideas.

  1. AI-powered action items, agenda updates, and deadline management

AI technology is founded on rules-based responses to decisions, meaning it can be taught to recognize keywords. Organizers can plug in important words such as “follow up” or “action item” and the AI can recognize them and react for easier sharing and review after a meeting.

In addition, AI can help to record deadlines and, if programmed to do so, could send out reminders as deadlines approach. With something like Natural Language Processing (NLP) embedded, AI can also know which parts of the meeting are most important, based on vocal tones, and can automatically record and share those parts with attendees, ensuring that none of the actions are forgotten.

  1. Automated capture of nonverbal cues

We all know those golden moments during a meeting where ideas are born and everyone reacts in a positive way – but they can be hard to identify, particularly if you’re engaging with remote workers on the phone or via video conference.

Wouldn’t it be great if AI was able to more easily recognize and record those moments, because they are generally identified by nonverbal cues such as facial expressions, nods, laughter, or peaks in the audio when everyone has that aha moment? A human note-taker may not be able to accurately capture this, but AI may be able to.

  1. Improved overall efficiency prevents meetings from dragging on

Everyone has experienced a meeting that seems to drag on endlessly, or watched co-workers talk in circles. This can happen when people are not paying attention because they’re scribbling on notepads and typing on laptops, bringing up topics that were already discussed. This is what turns meetings into chores instead of the energizing moments of team collaboration they are meant to be.

When AI removes the more mundane aspects of a meeting like scheduling or taking attendance, attendees can move through administrative tasks and housekeeping items rapidly, knowing the AI will have it all recorded for later reference, and move into free-flowing exchanges of ideas.

And for those routine meetings that occur frequently and don’t always entail a major brainstorming, AI also facilitates effective and concise meetings, so everyone can get into the meeting quickly, be productive with the time set out, and then get back into more inspiring work.

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Five Best Apps For Micro-Investing

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Micro-investing is a way for people to get started with investing with a lower threshold. It lets you invest with a small balance, often as little as $1. 

A few dollars here and there can add up. Even if you can’t make $500 mutual fund purchases monthly, you can build an investment portfolio from smaller deposits over time. Eventually, you could be in a position to invest using a more sophisticated platform than the micro-investing app you begin with. Here are the best apps for micro-investing.

  1. Stash

Stash packs the most features into the leanest package, delivering the best overall value for micro-investors. It offers three reasonably priced subscription plans:

  • Beginner. For $1/month, Beginner comes with a commission-free taxable brokerage account where you can purchase whole or fractional shares of individual stocks in increments of $1 or more. It also includes an FDIC-insured debit account with a debit card that earns stock rewards (Stock-Back) and two great automation features: Round-up (rounds up and invests the change on debit card purchases) and Smart-Stash (makes small automated investments whenever Stash thinks you can afford them).
  • Growth. For $3/month, Growth adds a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA, and a managed investing option for your taxable and retirement accounts.
  • Stash+. For $9/month, Stash+ adds up to two UTMA/UGMA custodial investing accounts, a metal debit card with 2x Stock-Back rewards, and $10,000 in no-cost life insurance coverage through Avibra.
  1. Acorns

Acorns is the best choice for micro-investors whose top priority is set-it-and-forget-it investing automation. It offers two powerful automation features:

  • Round-ups, which rounds up and invest the change on every purchase with your connected debit card
  • Found Money, which rewards you for shopping with partner companies (up to 10% back) and invests the reward.

Additional features:

  • Round-up Multipliers, which multiply the value of each round-up by up to 10x.
  • Custodial accounts.
  • Retirement accounts.
  • Fractional share investing starts at $0.01 per purchase.
  • Mobile check deposit and digital wallet integration.
  1. Robinhood

Robinhood is the best micro-investing app for more experienced investors who prefer an active, self-directed approach. Its user-friendly interface enables seamless buying and selling of stocks, ETFs, and cryptocurrencies — with no commissions, ever.

Additional features:

  • Invest in fractional shares with increments as low as $1.
  • Access to additional market data with a Robinhood Gold subscription ($5/month).
  • Margin trading with Robinhood Gold and a $2,000 minimum account balance.
  • Ability to buy and sell options contracts.
  1. Public

The public does its best to demystify investing for beginners with low minimums, prohibitions on day trading, and clear, plain-English definitions of common investing terms wherever they appear. That’s enough to make Public the best micro-investing app for beginners.

Additional features:

  • Invest with just $5
  • Fractional share investing is available.
  • Build multi-company portfolios with one click using Public’s thematic investing feature
  • Drag and drop to separate short-term and long-term investments for tax optimization
  • Follow other Public users and companies to get investing ideas
  1. Greenlight

Greenlight is a financial education tool built around a kid-friendly debit card with full parental controls. Upgrade to Greenlight + Invest for $7.98/month ($3/month more than the base plan) to get access to a custodial micro-investing account too. It’s the perfect first brokerage account for tomorrow’s market-savvy investor.

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Top Three Tech Start-Ups To Watch in 2022

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The enterprise tech startup sector is packed with companies capitalizing on growing demand — even amid the disruptions caused by the pandemic — for tools in the world of big data, devops, cloud, mobility, the internet of things and cybersecurity. 

According to Gartner, global IT spending is expected to grow by 6.2% this year, with total spending  projected to hit $3.9 trillion. The unprecedented acceleration of digital transformation in 2020 to satisfy the move to remote work, changes to education and new social norms presented by lockdowns has largely offset the early hit to IT spending caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Despite a rocky year, funding hotspots emerged from during the pandemic, with Massachusetts in the US, India, Indonesia, Israel, Australia and New Zealand, France, Belgium, and Brazil all reporting above average levels of funding.

“COVID-19 has shifted many industries’ tech-quilibrium,” said John-David Lovelock, distinguished research vice president at Gartner. “Greater levels of digitalization of internal processes, supply chain, customer and partner interactions, and service delivery is coming in 2021, enabling IT to transition from supporting the business to being the business. The biggest change this year will be how IT is financed, not necessarily how much IT is financed.” 

In this list, we highlight some of the hottest startups building software and services aimed at large enterprise customers, who their customers are, their funding so far and how close they might be to initial public offerings (IPOs) or acquisition in 2022.

  1. Cockroach Labs

Cockroach Labs is a software firm that develops commercial database management systems. Founded in 2015 by three ex-Google employees, it’s best known for CockroachDB, a cloud-native, distributed SQL database that provides “next-level consistency, ultra-resilience, data locality, and massive scale to modern cloud applications.”

Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, Cockroach Labs saw its revenue more than double in 2020, thanks in part to wide-spread cloud adoption. The startup expects to see similar levels of growth this year and claims to be on track to double its workforce from 200 to 400 employees by the end of 2021.

  1. Cohesity

There are a lot of factors that make Cohesity a ‘hot’ enterprise startup: unique technology, a founder on his second act after co-founding the now public software company Nutanix and $250 million in funding from SoftBank’s Vision Fund. 

The startup was originally pitched as a cheaper way for enterprises to store what it calls “secondary data” — backups, files, test/dev and analytics data — all monitored using a single cloud platform. It has since expanded into other areas of enterprise data management, including analytics, security and rapid recovery.

  1. Confluent

Founded by the creators of open-source Apache Kafka, Confluent is a commercial version of the software that helps developers manage system and application messaging at high volume and add real-time streaming data to their apps. 

Kafka has proved popular with companies like LinkedIn, which uses the technology for activity stream data and operational metrics; Netflix for real-time monitoring and its event-processing pipeline; and Spotify, where it’s used as part of the company’s log delivery system. 

The idea behind Confluent is to make it easier for companies that don’t have a surfeit of developer power to harness Kafka.

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