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Brian Armstrong rode the cryptocurrency craze to create a bitcoin unicorn

Armstrong is No. 54 on the Recode 100.

One year ago, 4.7 million people had accounts on the bitcoin exchange portal Coinbase.

Now, 13.3 million people have open accounts on Coinbase to trade cryptocurrencies — more than the number of people who have brokerage accounts with Charles Schwab. That meteoric rise is thanks to Brian Armstrong, Coinbase’s CEO, who has ridden the passion for alternative currencies to build a company that this year was valued in a new financing round at $1.6 billion — the first blockchain-related company to reach unicorn status.

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