Despite still only being 24, Vitalik Buterin is one of the most important names in the world of blockchain and cryptocurrency. Known as the co-founder and creator of Ethereum, his net worth is estimated to be at well over $100 million.
Vitalik Buterin early life and interest in cryptocurrency
Buterin was originally born in Russia. He moved to Canada at a young age when his father decided that work opportunities would be more prevalent there. Buterin studied at a private school in Toronto and was introduced to the crypto world by doing some paid blogging in exchange for Bitcoin. As his interest intensified, he formed a partnership with Mihai Alisie, who he met online. Together, to set up Bitcoin Magazine, which is now one of the largest digital and print magazines for Bitcoin in the world. Buterin continued to write for the magazine while he was studying at the University of Waterloo.
Vitalik and Ethereum
In 2013, Buterin write the whitepaper for what was to become Ethereum. In it, he proposed a modification to the Bitcoin blockchain that would allow for transactions to take place in the form of smart contracts, with application developers also being able to build an unlimited number of applications on top of the Ethereum network – called dApps (decentralized applications).
Ultimately, the whitepaper drew so much attention that Buterin dropped out of university in 2014 to work on Ethereum full-time. He received a $100,000 award from the Thiel Foundation and went on to develop the Ethereum network with two authors, using crowdfunding as a way to raise enough money. This was an example of a very early ICO and raised just over $18 million.
Finally, on 30th July 2015, Ethereum came into being with an initial premise of 72 million coins. Buterin was just 21 at the time. The initial value of one ETH was just over a dollar. However, in 2017 the price started to climb significantly over $10. Having hit a high of around $1300 in January 2018, ETH dropped to $200, following the trend of other cryptocurrencies at the time. It has maintained its position as the second largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization though, despite advances made by competitors such as Ripple XRP and Bitcoin Cash.
Buterin’s other work and awards
Vitalik Buterin has also acted as an open-source developer on some other projects, such as Kryptokit and DarkWallet. He is an extremely active Twitter user, with over 8,000 tweets and nearly a million followers. Also, he has also established himself as a philanthropist; he has donated millions of dollars to African refugee projects and private research institutions since the explosion of Ethereum at the beginning of 2017. He was on the Fortune 40 under 40 list in 2016 and 2018 and featured in the Forbes 30 under 30 in 2018.
In 2017, a hoax originating from 4chan claimed that Buterin had died in a car crash. However, Buterin himself quickly moved to quash this rumor, it served as an excellent example of how important he is in the world of Ethereum. The price of Ether, the connected cryptocurrency, suffered a massive hit, dropping in market capitalization by about $4 billion.
Looking to the Future
One of Vitalik Buterin’s main traits is that he is always looking to develop Ethereum. In 2018, he became interested in analyzing algorithms to find a way to cut transaction costs. Buterin worked heavily on Ethereum Casper, which uses a proof-of-stake consensus mechanism to verify transactions.
Buterin has been outspoken about the issues with proof of work – used by Bitcoin. The main problem he has is that the mechanism encourages miners to pool together, thus excluding individuals from taking part in mining; something that he believes is against the principle of decentralization. The new consensus, though, replaces miners with validators and removes the need for mining power. Through this, Buterin and the other Casper developers hope to redress the balance and restore true decentralization.
Buterin is massively supportive of the use of blockchain technology. This includes smart contracts in the mainstream and is an advocate for mass adoption. He has praised major organizations like Microsoft for taking on a proactive role in blockchain-based research and implementation. However, he criticized companies and governments alike that have taken more cautious or negative approaches.
As a result of his outspoken nature, he has become one of the foremost mouthpieces for the blockchain world. Vitalik Buterin is also a regular speaker at events and conferences around the world.