What would the NFT space be without coders, developers, and general free-thinking builders? Absolutely nothing, that’s what. Without the creators and innovators of blockchain tech, the NFT space, let alone NFTs and the blockchain itself, would never have come to fruition. That much should be clear to any within the sphere of Web3.
Beyond the many digitally-native artists and NFT collectors deserving of recognition, the builders — those striving to make advancements in, or by utilizing blockchain and NFT tech — are worthy of praise many times over. Yet, it remains true that we often glaze over those on the cusp of innovation, perhaps because, unlike artists and collectors, these individuals are often playing the long game, creating at scale on a grander scope of your timeline.
So to honor those who are, either overtly or covertly, driving innovation in the NFT space, we’ve hand-picked 10 builders that have had a palpable influence on the ecosystem over the last year. Chosen through qualitative metrics and presented in no specific order, these movers and shakers are folks you may or may not have heard of but are truly worth keeping an eye on.
4156, previously referred to as Punk4156, is an anonymous investor, NFT collector, and artist who claimed fame early in the NFT space. Once a CryptoPunk maximalist, he was the owner of one of the most coveted Punks in existence: CryptoPunk #4156. Having changed his position on CryptoPunks over the years, he has evolved from an influential collector into a prominent builder. The creator of the fantastically popular Nouns NFT project and brand, 4156 is a vocal supporter of NFTs being licensed under Creative Commons (CC0), which gives collectors full rights to duplicate, brand, market, and use the intellectual property contained in their NFTs as they see fit. All in all, 4156 is considered a major champion of Web3, NFTs, and digital ownership, and is a steward of NFT-based innovation.
Jason Bailey has a long history on the blockchain. First becoming known as the purveyor of the art and tech blog Artnome, he is considered an early adopter of NFTs and was among the first collectors to amass pieces on SuperRare, helping spearhead the then-burgeoning crypto art revolution. Through his projects, like ClubNFT, which he is the CEO and co-founder of, Bailey has worked to secure the safety and longevity of NFTs, while simultaneously promoting a more environmentally-sustainable and eco-friendly NFT landscape.
CEO & Co-Founder of Deadfellaz, Betty has established herself as a pillar of the NFT community whilst remaining an important figure within the ecosystem of her influential PFP project. While the road to NFT success has been elusive and ambiguous for some, she has remained a staunch supporter of independent artists at a time when creative opportunities have become conditional and creator royalties have come under attack. A proponent for diversity and inclusion in the NFT space, Betty has continued to be instrumental in driving conversation around creating equity in Web3.
Over the years, the pseudonymous 6529 has emerged as a critical thought leader in the NFT space. In addition to being one of Web3’s voices of wisdom, 6529 has evolved from a top-tier collector to a mission-driven builder who has been championing the establishment of an open metaverse against centralized and corporate players like Meta. While still known for his philosophical Twitter threads, his Open Metaverse (OM) project, launched on OnCyber, hinges on the idea that “100 million people in an open metaverse can change the world.” Currently, OM and the 6529 brand act as a hub for crypto-art exhibitions, unique edition collections, education, and more.
Katie Haun is a crypto investor and the Founder of Haun Ventures, a venture capital fund that invests in Web3. Toward the start of 2022, she raised $1.5 billion for the firm, achieving the largest initial fund ever raised by a solo female founding partner. In May of the same year, Haun led a $50 million funding round to boost Zora’s NFT tooling protocol, which provides accessible tools to create NFT collections and independent marketplaces for artists and businesses. She also serves on the Coinbase board, having joined as the company’s first independent director.
Farokh is an entrepreneur and NFT collector best known for his thought leadership in the NFT space. He is the founder of the Rug Radio Web3 media ecosystem, which aims to be the first fully decentralized media platform. Prior to NFTs, Farokh was known as a prolific social media expert, growing brand followings (including his own Goodlife Media & Communications company) well into the millions. After earning accolades as one of the most prominent voices of the early 2021 NFT boom, he switched gears, becoming a builder and spearheading the push from content creation by way of shared ownership.
Amanda Cassatt is a builder who has a long and prosperous history in the blockchain industry. As ConsenSys‘ Chief Marketing Officer, she brought Ethereum to market, subsequently creating the Ethereal Summit for ConsenSys, which is an event series that hosted some of the world’s first NFT galleries. In 2019, Cassatt left ConsenSys to create Serotonin, a marketing and product studio focusing on NFTs and other Web3 technologies. Here, she supports premier projects like IPFS, major brands’ NFT initiatives like Sotheby’s, and everything in between. In addition, she also created Mojito, an NFT commerce suite that helps creators launch and grow NFT marketplaces, membership programs, and communities.
Richerd Chan, known in the NFT space simply as Richerd, is a developer, collector, and Co-Founder of the NFT creation platform Manifold. A long-time proponent of NFTs and of creators owning the means to production, Richerd helped create Manifold as a service to empower independent artists to create their own smart contracts, rather than simply utilizing those owned by NFT marketplaces. Through Manifold, Richerd has aided in lowering the bar of entry for artists and creators endeavoring to enter the NFT space, while further perpetuating the ideologies of decentralized digital ownership.
For years, the enigmatic artist known as Trippy worked in the shadows before emerging into the NFT space as an optimistic light and proponent of blockchain technology. Although originally recognized for growing the largest online psychedelic community, through Trippy Labs, his multidisciplinary Web3 creative studio, he has now shifted focus to make Web3 events more native to decentralization. Through collaboration with A-list celebrities and influential artists, spearheading philanthropic endeavors, and producing immersive experiences made by and for the NFT space, Trippy has easily become the people’s champ and a steward of Web3 culture and tech.
A seasoned veteran of art law, Lesley Silverman works as the head of Web3 at United Talent Agency, bringing a unique perspective on regulation in the art sphere to her company’s Web3 department. At UTA, she embodies the agency’s mission of empowering brands and creators as the NFT space evolves. Capitalizing on her background, Silverman has helped clients launch their own Web3 projects and has worked on teams that have signed Deadfellaz and others, and aided Larva Labs, Coinbase, and more as clients. Silverman’s actions are actively helping bridge the gap between Web2 and Web3, and her unique balance of optimism and caution continues to be admired throughout the NFT space.