The rise of the new crypto “mafias”

Ash Egan Contributor Ash Egan leads crypto investing at Accomplice. He formerly was a VC at ConsenSys Ventures and Converge.

In the early 2000s, journalists popularized the term “PayPal mafia” to describe the PayPal founders and employees who left to start their own wildly successful tech companies, including Peter Thiel, Reid Hoffman, and Elon Musk. Drawing from that idea, this article seeks to cover the formation and flow of talent within the crypto landscape today.

I’m fascinated by the concept of tech mafias, popularized by Paypal in the early 00s.

Early signs of crypto mafias:

Coinbase @0xProject @dydxprotocol
Ethereum/ConsenSys @Cardano @polkadotnetwork @metamask_io
MIT @EnigmaMPC @Algorand Unit-e
IC3 Avalanche


— Ash Egan (@AshAEgan) April 3, 2019

The crypto world is in a constant state of flux, with new startups entrants joining the industry every single day. These new startups have the potential either to be superstars within a portfolio company or to start the next Coinbase. Additionally, there are already impressive spin-outs from some of the more established crypto companies.

For ease of framing, I’ve separated these early-forming mafias into four categories: CryptoTechWall Street, and Academia. Since 2009,

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