Sam Bankman-Fried
Lam Yik Fei—The New York Times/Redux

Few have had a bigger impact on cryptocurrency’s ascendance in mainstream culture over the past two years than Sam Bankman-Fried. The 30-year-old founder of the exchange platform FTX has become a key public face of crypto, using every tool imaginable to convince the public of its strengths, whether that’s hiring Larry David for a Super Bowl commercial, renaming the Miami Heat’s arena after his company, donating millions to political campaigns, or testifying in front of Congress.

Bankman-Fried is working to reshape the way the world sees crypto because he believes in its transformative power for good. As an ­effective altruist, Bankman-Fried believes crypto can help democratize financial markets and reduce poverty and corruption. And Bankman-­Fried puts his money where his mouth is: while many other crypto mavens flaunt their Lamborghinis and yachts, Bankman-Fried—who’s worth around $20 billion—often sleeps on a beanbag in his office and has pledged he will give 99% of his earnings to philanthropic causes. In a crypto landscape ridden with scams, hedonism, and greed, Bankman-Fried offers a kinder and more impactful vision brought forth by the nascent technology.

Chow is a TIME correspondent

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