The Fortune Crypto 40: Categories and Criteria

For nearly a century, Fortune has been an authority when it comes to the who’s who of business. This reputation comes in part from the publication’s iconic company lists. The most famous of these is the flagship Fortune 500—which ranks the U.S.’s biggest companies by revenue—but the roster also includes important newer franchises like 100 Best Companies to Work For and Change the World.

Currently, there are no such rankings for the crypto industry. While there are plenty of lists, nearly all of them reflect the subjective preference of a handful of editors, and most focus on personalities rather than companies. That’s why Fortune has decided to create a definitive list of the most important crypto companies.

The inaugural Fortune Crypto 40 will appear online and in the April/May issue of the magazine. It will consist of eight categories within crypto, providing a ranked list of the top five companies in each category. The decision to create separate categories instead of a single list reflects the fact that crypto is a diverse industry, and that it’s hard to find common metrics to weigh the relative importance of a crypto exchange versus a traditional finance company versus a DeFi project.

To evaluate companies, Fortune has created a rigorous methodology for each category that draws on data wherever possible. We have partnered with leading crypto analytical firms and, in some cases, commissioned executive surveys from respected polling firm ResearchScape.

We are not disclosing the full methodology for competitive reasons, but have provided a broad overview of each category and some key criteria below. Finally, any ranking—no matter how rigorous—will contain an element of subjectivity that arises in part from the choice of relevant criteria in the first place. In the case of the Fortune Crypto 40, the selected criteria will generally favor incumbent companies over newer ones and may reward scale and business success over design or innovation. But this also means that the list will be fluid in subsequent years when, as is the case everywhere in business, nimble upstarts disrupt and grab the crowns of complacent incumbents.

Here are the eight categories for the inaugural 2023 edition of the Fortune Crypto 40 franchise:

TradFi: This category will recognize companies from the world of traditional finance, including banks, exchanges, and fintech firms that have made significant inroads into the world of crypto and blockchain. Trusts and investment firms are excluded. Criteria include the number of crypto-related products and investments as well as industry reputation.

CeFi: The category for CeFi, aka centralized finance, will rank crypto-first firm such as exchanges, stablecoin operators, and custodians. Criteria for inclusion on the winner’s list include market share, transparency, and industry reputation.

NFTs: This category will rank companies behind leading NFT marketplaces and collections. Key criteria include marketplace fees, where applicable, as well as all-time volume.

Venture capital: This firm will evaluate key investors in the crypto space. To be eligible, firms must have invested in at least 35 crypto companies and have backed at least one unicorn. Angels, incubators, and pension funds are not eligible. Other key criteria include exits, reputation and social signals.

Data and Analytic companies: This category aims to recognize the growing influence and importance of companies that specialize in the new science of blockchain and token research. Key criteria include funding raised, headcount, and media reputation.

Infrastructure firms: This category recognizes the top companies that carry out much of the behind-the-scenes building activity that has helping crypto to grow into a trillion-dollar industry. Eligible companies must be public with a market cap of over $400 million or private and have raised at least that amount. They may include mining firms, hardware makers, and software firms.

Blockchain protocol firms: This category acknowledges that some of the biggest crypto projects, including Bitcoin, are decentralized and not run by a company at all. As such, Fortune is evaluating labs, foundations, companies, and other entities that support and build tools and products for various blockchains. Key metrics include protocol-related revenue, recent volume and activity, and security.

DeFi: This category is, by definition, concerned with decentralized financial activity. As such, it will recognize the legal entity closest to a given network. Eligible entities must have had their code audited by a reputable company, must operate through a decentralized autonomous organization, and must have a total-value-locked of at least $200 million and monthly revenues of at least $100,000.

If you have any questions about the list, please email crypto40@fortune.com.