It will not be an exaggeration to say that the global tech space has more thought leaders and innovators than ever. These individuals have contributed to shaping the technologies that continue to affect our lives.
In 2022, some of these people raised eyebrows, causing more innovation – or just made headline stories. These individuals, you would argue, stand out for their actions, achievements and creations.
Criteria for determining individuals that defined the global tech space in 2022
- Social media talkability
- Major headlines
- Caused a raucous in the tech space
Do Kwon caused a large tear in the crypto multiverse when his Terra ecosystem crashed alongside investors’ money.
The Terra Luna system collapsed in May, with the price of both tokens plummeting to near zero and the fallout hitting the broader crypto market. From a $116 high in April, a Terra coin is now worth less than $0.0002.
According to blockchain analytics firm Elliptic, investors in the two coins lost an estimated $42 billion.
In case you don’t know, Do Kwon is the famed individual behind the TerraUSD (UST) stablecoin crisis that occurred in May 2022. The fall sent shock waves through the crypto sphere as UST lost its peg to the U.S. dollar and wiped out the support of its non-stablecoin sister asset LUNA, which dropped 99%, losing billions of dollars in market cap over just a few days.
This caused around $200 billion to be wiped off the crypto market cap.
After the fall, Do Kwon absconded from his home country of Singapore. Government authorities even issued an arrest warrant for Kwon, citing a violation of capital market regulations.
Do Kwon is hiding in Serbia, according to South Korean prosecutors seeking to take him into custody.
Kwon has been charged with fraud and breaches of South Korea’s capital market law. He said in October that he didn’t believe the charges were legitimate, adding that they were “politically motivated.”
In a 1,200-word blog post, Jack Dorsey made it clear that Twitter he once led had significant problems then and now, but he didn’t mention Elon Musk. Dorsey said he was adding his voice to the discussion around the “Twitter Files,” which Musk released last week to support his claims that prior management was biased against conservatives in its handling of content moderation.
At the beginning of his post, Dorsey said he’s come to believe in three principles. Social media must withstand “corporate and government control,” the author is the only person who can remove content they produce, and “moderation is best implemented by algorithmic choice.”
“The Twitter when I led it and the Twitter of today do not meet any of these principles. This is my fault alone, as I completely gave up pushing for them when an activist entered our stock in 2020,” Dorsey wrote.
That was a reference to Elliott Management, which acquired a significant stake in Twitter almost three years ago as a ploy. to replace Dorsey with a hand-picked leader. Twitter later beat back that effort, but Dorsey resigned by the end of 2021.
Even more interesting, the former CEO and co-founder of Twitter says it’s time to move on from the troubled social media platform and embrace a more open and decentralised approach.
During the heated argument about Elon Musk’s offer to Twitter, Dorsey said, “The biggest issue and my biggest regret is that it became a company.”
Jack Dorsey is now Block’s Head, an ecosystem of businesses empowering many to access payment infrastructures.
Mark Zuckerberg; CEO, Meta
In February 2022, Meta Platforms Inc. Chief Executive Zuckerberg unveiled some artificial intelligence projects the company had been working on with the goal of “building the metaverse.” A project that is set to change everything about the global tech space.
“The kinds of experiences that you’ll have in the metaverse are beyond what is possible today,” he said. “It’s an immersive version of the internet. Instead of just looking at something on a screen, you’re going to actually feel like you’re inside it, or right there present with another person. And that’s going to require advances across a whole range of areas from new software to hardware devices for building and exploring worlds. And the key to unlocking a lot of these advances is AI.”
In June, Zuckerberg told CNBC that the metaverse could be a considerable part of the social network operator’s business in the decade’s second half.
“We hope to basically get to around a billion people in the metaverse doing hundreds of dollars of commerce, each buying digital goods, digital content, different things to express themselves, so whether that’s clothing for their avatar or different digital goods for their virtual home or things to decorate their virtual conference room, utilities to be able to be more productive in virtual and augmented reality and across the metaverse overall,” he said.
In the past, the concept of a metaverse was nothing more than a tech term used to talk about the future of the internet. Zuckerberg’s recent projects, which he has pumped billions into, have popularised this concept.
Zuckerberg’s $70 billion bet on the metaverse has caused his net worth to plummet this year, but he is looking at the future.
Nayib Bukele; President of El Salvador
El Salvador President Nayib Bukele took the stage in 2021 when he announced to a cheering crowd of crypto enthusiasts at a beachside confab that Bitcoin would revolutionise his country. This was in November when the digital token had reached an all-time high, and El Salvador was on the verge of an experiment to become the first country to use cryptocurrency as a legal tender.
It has been more than a year, and the ‘noise’ hovering around crypto has reduced, dampening the early euphoria – imagine Bitcoin going as low as $16,500. But El Salvador has not experienced the financial ruin some analysts warned of nor the rewards that Bukele anticipated.
“No one really talks about Bitcoin here anymore. It’s kind of been forgotten,” said former El Salvador central bank chief Carlos Acevedo. “I don’t know if you’d call that a failure, but it certainly hasn’t been a success.”
Bukele got the world’s attention when he announced that Bitcoin would be the country’s official currency, alongside the dollar, causing a stir in the crypto community while drawing criticism from sceptics and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
There are reports that only a relatively small percentage of the population uses digital wallets, and few businesses have registered transactions in bitcoin. The central bank says only 2% of remittances have been sent via cryptocurrency wallets.
The government is still claiming victory, however. According to Finance Minister Alejandro Zelaya, Bitcoin has attracted foreign investment and tourism and increased financial access to a largely unbanked population. The government says its digital wallet, Chivo, has more than four million users. Tourism is on pace to surpass pre-pandemic levels this year, and the central bank says 59 cryptocurrency and blockchain companies have registered offices in El Salvador.
Bukele is undeterred by the fall of the price of bitcoin too. He restated his commitment to the project via a tweet in November 2022. The Central American country currently holds about 2,381 Bitcoin.
In an earlier tweet about the FTX saga; he said, “FTX is the opposite of Bitcoin.” Bukele then likened FTX to a Ponzi scheme and its founder Sam Bankman-Fried to infamous fraudster Bernie Madoff. “Bitcoin’s protocol was created precisely to prevent… bailouts and wealth reassignments,” he argued.
Changpeng Zhao; CEO of Binance
Call him the white knight of the crypto space. Changpeng “CZ” Zhao is the founder and CEO of Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange. Zhao started to receive broader news coverage in November 2022 during the implosion of rival exchange FTX.
He played a role in FTX’s unravelling and offered to acquire the company at the height of the liquidity crunch that ultimately led to its bankruptcy. The offer was rescinded once the extent of FTX’s problems became evident.
”As a result of corporate due diligence, as well as the latest news reports regarding mishandled customer funds and alleged U.S. agency investigations, we have decided that we will not pursue the potential acquisition of FTX.com,” CZ posted in a November 9 tweet.
After the fall of FTX, Zhao has become one of the biggest names left standing in cryptocurrency. With more than $11.5 billion in daily trading volume, Binance’s business now vastly outpaces every other crypto exchange by wide margins.
The Canadian billionaire made headlines for offering to come to the aid of entrepreneurs facing a cash crunch to help “rebuild” the crypto sector.
“Crypto is not going away. We are still here. Let’s rebuild.”
Zhao announced that to mitigate any further damage from the collapse of FTX, his team would establish “an industry recovery fund, to help projects who are otherwise strong, but in a liquidity crisis.”
Elon Musk; CEO, Tesla, SpaceX, Twitter
The CEO of Tesla and SpaceX is interestingly always in the news. But, he became even more famous when he announced he wanted Twitter for himself, citing the power of the social media platform as a dedicated internet town hall. He also pushed the idea of free speech as one of the reasons Twitter has to enter his pockets.
After back and forths, the world’s wealthiest man at the time acquired Twitter for $44 billion and had very drastic plans, which involved a massive layoff of employees across the globe.
Besides that was an $8 subscription model for individuals or companies who wanted the blue check mark.
“Twitter’s current lords & peasants system for who has or doesn’t have a blue checkmark is bullshit. Power to the people! Blue for $8/month,” Musk said in a tweet, adding that the price will be adjusted by “country proportionate to purchasing power parity.”
But, that plan went south, except that it was reworked and is now back, but iPhone users have to pay more.
But that’s secondary, you may argue.
For years, Twitter has played an outstanding role in setting the standards for the social media space as a whole, creating competition for big tech companies like Meta to make their platforms safe. But, the outlines of Musk’s agenda at Twitter may be changing that standard, mainly because he intends to reinstate banned accounts.
Musk, who previously criticised Twitter as having a “strong left-wing bias,” has also erased any sense that Twitter is a politically neutral platform, urging Americans to vote for a Republican Congress and tweeting that he would back Ron DeSantis for president in 2024. He’s also undoing the platform’s efforts to combat dangerous COVID-19 misinformation, announcing that the company will no longer be enforcing those policies.
These activities, combined with reports that racist troll activity has surged on Twitter since Musk took over, make it unlikely that Twitter will continue to be a leading voice on content moderation.
Sam Bankman-Fried; former CEO, FTX
Sam Bankman-Fried, the former CEO of the defunct FTX cryptocurrency exchange, was arrested, in December, by security officials in the Bahamas at the request of the U.S. government.
Bankman-Fried has been at the receiving end of some heavy backlash from FTX’s legal representatives, Binance CEO, and his replacement as FTX CEO, John J. Ray III, since the crash of the crypto exchange, which was the second-largest by trading volume at the time.
The securities and exchange commission (SEC) indicted him for fraudulent acts, which involved tricking customers and hiding the details about the exchange’s diversion of customers’ assets to Alameda Research LLC.
The charges levelled on Sam Bankman-Fried indicate that he generated over $1.8 billion from equity investors since 2019 by pitching FTX ceaselessly as the best, most secured and appropriate interface for storing, trading and purchasing crypto tokens.
Meanwhile, the breakdown of FTX’s fortunes caused a ripple effect. On November 17, Cointelegraph released a list of companies affected, including, but not limited to, Genesis, Sequoia Capital, BlockFi, and Crypto.com. Nigeria’s Nestcoin also laid off employees saying its assets were with FTX.
The collapse of FTX caused a series of conversations about the future of cryptocurrency, decentralisation and trust.
Sam Altman; CEO of Open AI
Samuel H. Altman is an entrepreneur, investor, programmer, and blogger. He is the CEO of OpenAI and the former president of Y Combinator.
If you know ChatGPT, you will know Sam is quite important in the scheme of things, especially because the platform has been in conversations, and its usage keeps increasing by the hour. According to Open AI, its provider, it already has 1 million users as of December 8, 2022.
But, ChatGPT has been causing many concerns among developers and the development communities on whether programmers will no longer have a job.
ChatGPT is a natural language processing tool driven by AI technology that allows you to have human-like conversations and much more with a chatbot. The language model can answer questions and assist you with tasks such as composing emails, essays and code. Usage is currently open to the public free of charge because ChatGPT is in its research and feedback-collection phase.
Altman said on Twitter that, since launching, ChatGPT has more than one million users. Altman told Elon Musk the average cost of each response was in “single-digits cents” but admitted it would need to monetise it eventually because of its “eye-watering” compute costs.
Altman also noted in a tweet the buzz around ChatGPT: “interesting to me how many of the ChatGPT takes are either “this is [artificial general intellingence] AGI” (obviously not close, lol) or “this approach can’t go that much further”. trust the exponential. flat looking backwards, vertical looking forwards,” he said.