In 2009, Bitcoin was introduced to the world, marking the dawn of the blockchain era as the premier Layer 1 (L1) technology. Today, countless companies and organizations span across multiple ecosystems, each leveraging blockchain in unique ways. Documenting the history of computing and technology is paramount, as it provides valuable context and insight for future generations who might not have access to the now-lost anecdotes and oral tales of earlier times.
Notably, Bitcoin emerged during the subprime mortgage crisis, whether by design or coincidence. Its roots can be traced back to the early 90s with the influential cypherpunk mailing list and even further back to the rise of the global Internet. Today, we refer to these evolutionary stages as Web 1.0 and the current decentralized movement as Web 3.0. However, the ideals of decentralization predate even the invention of blockchains. In truth, blockchain is just one of the myriad decentralized technologies available.
In the early days, the most common types of cryptocurrency businesses were exchanges. CoinFabrik and CoInspect stand out as pioneers, being the world’s earliest known blockchain R&D, and security service companies. Both were established in 2014 and have continued to thrive in a volatile industry. A year later, in 2015, both OpenZeppelin and ConsenSys made their debut.
Below is our compilation of pioneering blockchain companies that existed before Ethereum ushered in a new era with its transformative smart contract technology. Given the vast number of players in this space, it’s challenging to track every pioneer. We invite you to contribute any missing early company names as comments to this article.
|2010||Mt. Gox||Bitcoin exchange||Closed in 2014: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mt._Gox|
|2011||BitPay||Bitcoin Payment Service||Live|
|2011||Blockchain.com||Wallet and cryptocurrency exchange|
|2012||LocalBitcoins||P2P + Escrow Exchange||Retired in 2023|
|2012||Paxos||Cryptocurrency brokerage service||Live|
|2013||Bitmain||Cryptocurrency ASIC miners||Live|
|2013||Canaan||Cryptocurrency ASIC miners||Live|
|2013||SatoshiLabs||Creators of Trezor, the first Bitcoin hardware wallet||Live|
|2013||CryptoKit||Initially a Bitcoin wallet browser extension||Moved to Jaxx and then was retired in favour of https://www.andiami.org/|
|2013||Circle||In 2018 partnered with Coinbase to launch USDC||Pivoted, Live|
|2014||Xapo||Bitcoin exchange||Live as a wallet + debit card. Coinbase acquired its Xapo Custody offering in 2019|
|2014||Bitex||Bitcoin exchange||Acquired by Hubbi in 2022|
|2014||BitUSD||Crypto backed USD Stablecoin||Defunct|
|2014||Tether||Fiat pegged USD Stablecoin||Live|
|2014||CoinFabrik||Research, development, and security auditing services||Live|
|2014||CoInspect||Security auditing services||Live|
|2015||Blockstream||Bitcoin and assets infrastructure||Live|
|2015||OpenZeppelin||Secure smart contracts library in Solidity||Live|
|2015||ConsenSys||Products and services||Live|
|2015||Sig3||Sig3 co-signs transactions based on the policies and criteria implemented by its users.||Defunct|
|2015||Wayniloans||P2P Bitcoin lending||Pivoted to https://www.waynimovil.ar/|