Why Fortune Created ‘The Ledger 40 Under 40’ List
While helping to compile Fortune’s annual, flagship 40 Under 40 list, we wrestled with a quandary. In the vast, ever-expanding universe of digitized money, which visionaries and virtuosos deserved installment on our glossy walk of fame? We had many candidates in mind.
The obvious: Brain Armstrong, CEO and cofounder of Coinbase, and Vitalik Buterin, creator of Ethereum, have both appeared on the 40 Under 40 list in years past. They remain two of the brightest stars in the fin-tech firmament. But because they are so young—Buterin is 24 years old—does this mean they will inhabit guaranteed slots until their quadragenarian birthdays—in Buterin’s case, in 2034? Does the youth of these precocious programmers effectively exclude others from recognition?
The germ of an idea sprouted: What if we created an extension of the franchise? Fortune has never done so before. But in this case, the decision was self-evident. The burgeoning crypto-cum-fintech world justified a spinoff. The Ledger 40 Under 40 list was born.
Demonstrating the industry’s influence, five laureates on the main list intersect the offshoot. In addition to Armstrong (No. 1) and Buterin (No. 2), there are the Collison brothers of Stripe (No. 4); Vlad Tenev and Baiju Bhatt (No. 5), dual CEOs and cofounders of Robinhood; and Pavel Durov of Telegram (No. 10). Beyond them, a host of new, worthy faces: Jihan Wu of Bitmain (No. 3), Rana Yared of Goldman Sachs (No. 6), the Winklevoss twins of Gemini (No. 8), Rachel Mayer of Circle (No. 16), and more. All of these pioneers are pushing boundaries at the bleeding edge of finance and technology. All of them warrant acclaim.
Indeed, we’re convinced that we’re witnessing the birth of something special. The last time we observed such an explosion of technical talent and tenacity in so short a span of time, we stood at the dawn of Web 2.0, which brought on businesses such as Facebook, YouTube, Uber, Airbnb, and Snapchat. (These companies’ execs continue to dominate our headline 40 Under 40 list.) The fast approach of the Web’s next iteration—Web 3.0, as some prognosticators have called it—signals a new era, one wherein a seamless interchange of value is woven into the very fabric of the network. This movement merits a spotlight all its own.
And so we invite you to peruse The Ledger’s selection of young movers and shakers building the world’s financial future. Take a gander; be inspired. We’re proud to note the honor roll features 15 women—about 38% of the total. Of course, we’re sure there are individuals whose work escaped our attention. If you spot any candidates who should be on our radar, please send their names our way and we’ll consider them for next year. We’ve already begun having productive conversations toward that end.
Oh, and if you’ll be under 40 in a year, remember: There’s time yet to make the list. Better get cracking on that world-changing idea of yours, dear reader.