The 27-year-old billionaire had the idea for Ethereum when he was just 19 years old.
Vitalik Buterin is a cryptocurrency visionary. So much so that the creator of Ethereum (ETH), the second largest cryptocurrency on the market, was recently selected as one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2021.
Buterin wrote the whitepaper for Ethereum in 2013 when he was just 19 years old. He saw a way to take the blockchain technology that Bitcoin (BTC) is built on and take it to another level using smart contracts.
Smart contracts are tiny pieces of self-executing code that live on the blockchain. They elevate it from a sophisticated transaction ledger to a programmable network. The Ethereum network now hosts thousands of decentralized applications (dApps) and other cryptocurrencies. Several Ethereum alternatives have emerged, but Ethereum remains the dominant force.
The journey of Vitalik Buterin
Would you believe that the now famous 27-year-old billionaire didn’t finish college? The Russian-Canadian dropped out of his computer science studies at the University of Waterloo in 2014 to focus on building Ethereum. He had just received a $100,000 Thiel Fellowship which, in addition to funding, offers guidance and resources to talented young people to help them pursue their ideas.
Born in Kolomna, Russia (about 100 km from Moscow), Buterin moved to Toronto, Canada shortly before his sixth birthday. In Canada, her math and programming skills helped her quickly find her way to a school for gifted children.
Once Buterin embraced bitcoin, he started writing for a bitcoin blog so he could earn some of the top cryptos. Soon after, he co-founded Bitcoin Magazine with Mihai Alisie who later joined him to co-found Ethereum.
Buterin writes on his about.me page that a World of Warcraft trauma in 2010 was one of the driving forces behind his dedication to all things decentralized. He said that one day Blizzard, the developers of the game, removed the damage component from his wizard spell. “I fell asleep crying and that day I realized what horrors centralized services can bring,” Buterin said. Decentralization – the removal of middlemen – has been an important part of the development of Ethereum.
Co-founder of Ethereum
Buterin’s white paper has aroused the interest of several circles. Indeed, Ethereum had eight co-founders – which was, according to The Block, a decision Buterin would later regret. Several then created their own crypto projects, such as Gavin Wood and Polkadot (DOT), as well as Charles Hoskinson and Cardano (ADA). Of the original founders, only Buterin continues to be involved with Ethereum.
Buterin is a board member of the Ethereum Foundation, an organization that governs Ethereum development, controls treasury, and strives to engage the community.
Ethereum is the backbone of a host of cryptocurrency projects today. According to State of the dApps, it has nearly 3,000 dApps on its platform, or around 75% of the total. It is also a popular platform for the ever-popular non-fungible tokens (NFTs). NFTs are a type of digital collectible that uses smart contracts to record copyright and ownership information.
However, the Ethereum network has fallen victim to its own success. It struggles with heavy congestion and high gas (transaction) fees. This is why Buterin spent a lot of time on Eth2 – a safer, faster and more scalable version of Ethereum. Eth2 will also leave behind the power-hungry and much-criticized proof-of-work mining model.
Even without Eth2, the price of Ethereum has increased by more than 420% this year alone. And it’s grown over 245,000% since launch.
Buterin in his own words
The best way to understand someone is to listen to what they have to say. Here is our selection of useful or interesting Buterin quotes.
2016“When I first came up with Ethereum, my first thought was, okay, this thing is too good to be true and I’m going to have five professional cryptographers raining down on me and telling me how stupid I am for not see a bunch of very obvious flaws in it,” he said in an interview with Wired.com. “Two weeks later, I was extremely surprised that none of this happened. It turned out that the core idea of Ethereum was fundamentally, completely, solidly sound.”
2017: Buterin’s advice on Twitter still holds true today, “Reminder: cryptocurrencies are still a new, hyper-volatile asset class, and could drop to near zero at any time. Don’t invest more than money you can’t afford to lose. If you’re trying to figure out where to store your savings, traditional assets are still your safest bet.”
2021: In response to a question about the hardest lesson he’s learned from Ethereum, he tweeted, “People are harder to coordinate tightly in small groups than I expected. You can’t just getting everyone to sit in a circle, see each other’s inherent goodness, and get along, especially when huge incentive conflicts are at play.”
If learning about Buterin has made you want to invest in Ethereum, you can buy it from many of the top cryptocurrency apps and exchanges. But even an established crypto like Ethereum can be a volatile and risky investment. Be sure to do your own research and follow Buterin’s advice: Only spend the money you can afford to lose.
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