Over 15 years have passed since Satoshi Nakamoto launched the crypto revolution with the release of the Bitcoin white paper. On the brink of January 3, 2024, the network celebrates a decade and a half of continuous activity. Though many companies folded in 2023, several of the original players remain in the game. This overview showcases some of the first crypto firms still in operation, detailing their business activities and longevity in the marketplace.
10 Companies Riding Out the Crypto Storms
This year witnessed the downfall of numerous big names in the industry, with others still reeling from the impact. Nonetheless, a considerable number of seasoned cryptocurrency companies have weathered multiple storms and remain in business. A select few of these firms have surpassed a decade of operation, sailing through with minimal turbulence, while other foundational businesses have faced challenges potent enough to threaten their existence. The subsequent overview provides insight into some of the most established digital currency enterprises that are operational to date.
Braiins Pool (formerly Slush Pool)
Established as Slush Pool and known today as Braiins Pool, this entity holds the title of the longest-running bitcoin mining pool, actively engaging in BTC mining operations. It was conceived by Marek Palatinus, popularly referred to as “Slush,” on November 27, 2010.
Palatinus is also known for his role in developing the world’s initial hardware wallet, Trezor. Currently, Braiins Pool is responsible for 0.63% of the Bitcoin network’s total hashrate, delivering 2.99 exahash per second (EH/s) in the past three days. Braiins has been in business for nearly 13 years.
Coinbase, rooted in San Francisco, began its operations in June 2012, thanks to founders Fred Ehrsam and Brian Armstrong. Over time, it has ascended to become one of the premier crypto exchanges globally. The company marked its transition to a publicly-traded entity on April 14, 2021, when it listed its Class A common stock on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the ticker “COIN.” However, on June 6, 2023, Coinbase encountered legal hurdles when the SEC alleged the company operated as an unregistered broker, citing breaches of securities law. Coinbase has been operating for 11 years.
In the realm of specialized ASIC chip manufacturing and bitcoin mining hardware, Canaan Inc. has carved out a significant niche. Launched in 2013 by founders Nangeng Zhang, Jiaxuan Li, and Xiangfu Liu, Canaan made a bold move by acquiring Avalon, the pioneer of the first ASIC mining rig, in the same year.
The company took a leap forward when it entered the public market on November 21, 2019, positioning itself as one of the first in the crypto mining sector to go public. Canaan recently celebrated the firm’s 10th anniversary with new machines.
Bitfinex, a crypto exchange, was established in 2012 by French entrepreneur Raphael Nicolle and Italian businessman Giancarlo Devasini. The platform commands the second-largest bitcoin wallet, with 190,010 BTC in its cold storage.
Owned by Ifinex Inc., which also operates Tether Holdings Limited, the leading issuer of stablecoins, Bitfinex has been a player in the digital currency exchange space for over 11 years. The exchange endured a significant security breach in 2016 when it lost about 120,000 bitcoins. Despite this setback, Bitfinex recovered and reaffirmed its status as one of the top global crypto exchanges.
Blockchain.com, once known as Blockchain.info, was founded in 2011 by a team including Peter Smith and Nicolas Cary. The company provides a variety of services, including a block explorer for multiple cryptocurrencies, data analytics, and a digital wallet.
It also runs a trading platform. Blockchain.com has seen the creation of 87 million wallets from users in 200 countries since its wallet service began. The business has been operational for about 12 years.
Bitpay, a cryptocurrency payment service provider headquartered in Atlanta, was founded in May 2011 by Tony Gallippi and Stephen Pair. The company offers payment processing services for merchants to accept cryptocurrency. Bitpay introduced a Visa cryptocurrency debit card that was later rebranded in partnership with Mastercard.
In mid-May 2023, Bitpay announced the discontinuation of the Mastercard program, with plans to introduce a new card offering in the future. The processor continues to handle merchant payments and has been in business for 12 years.
Bitstamp, a European cryptocurrency exchange, was established in 2011 by Nejc Kodrič and Damijan Merlak. For years, the exchange has enabled trading of cryptocurrencies against fiat currencies such as the U.S. dollar, British pound, and euro. Bitstamp experienced a hack on January 4, 2015, resulting in a loss of nearly 19,000 BTC.
However, akin to Bitfinex, the exchange recovered from the incident and has maintained its status as a leading trading platform. Bitstamp has been operational for more than 12 years since its launch.
Kraken, based in San Francisco and founded in 2011 by Jesse Powell, Thanh Luu, and Michael Gronager, continues to operate today. The exchange, like Bitstamp, has long offered trading of crypto assets against fiat currencies.
While Kraken has not suffered any major security breaches in its history, it recently encountered regulatory issues with the SEC, leading to the discontinuation of its staking services. The exchange agreed to wind down the staking service and pay $30 million in disgorgement, prejudgment interest, and civil penalties related to the case. Kraken has been operational for more than 12 years.
Bitmain, a manufacturer of Bitcoin ASIC mining rigs, was founded in 2013, paralleling Canaan’s inception. Micree Zhan and Jihan Wu established the company, but in 2019, Wu resigned as co-CEO. Known for creating Antminer mining rigs, Bitmain also launched Antpool, one of the largest mining pools globally by total hashrate. The company has been at the forefront of mining rig production for more than 10 years.
Satoshilabs, the creator of Trezor, was established in 2013, and its first hardware wallet, the Trezor Model One, debuted on July 29, 2014. Marek Palatinus and Pavol Rusnak are the founders. Despite competition in the hardware wallet market today, the company continues to operate among its peers.
The firm has recently launched the third version of its hardware wallet, which supports bitcoin, ethereum, and over 7,000 other digital currencies. The hardware wallet manufacturer has been in operation for a total of ten years.
The Crypto Graveyard Holds Many Names
The above roster of crypto firms has outlived the downfall of numerous competitors, with recent debacles involving FTX, Blockfi, Three Arrows Capital (3AC), Voyager Digital, Celsius Network, and Alameda Research. These calamities are in addition to earlier market blunders such as Mt Gox, Quadrigacx, Cryptsy, Mintpal, and Bitcoinica. Notably, the missteps of some of these digital asset companies have precipitated the collapse of others. Persisting in the volatile realm of crypto assets for over a decade is an accomplishment, especially in an industry where certainties are scarce.
What do you think about the ten veteran crypto firms that have managed to brave the many storms associated with the crypto world? Share your thoughts and opinions about this subject in the comments section below.