Vitalik Buterin is a 27-year-old writer, programmer, and entrepreneur. He is known for his success in introducing the world to Ethereum, which is the second most popular cryptocurrency after Bitcoin. Before co-founding Ethereum with a group of other geniuses, Vitalik Buterin was deeply interested in Bitcoin. He wrote articles about Bitcoin in the Bitcoin magazine he co-founded and was active in the Bitcoin community. Vitalik Buterin is of a mixed Russian/Canadian origin. Currently, he is making more news in the cryptocurrency market, pioneering his coin – Ethereum, which is now worth over $65 billion in market trades.
Vitalik Buterin was born in Kolomna, a city in the Moscow Oblast region, Russia. He migrated with his parents to Canada at the age of six. In Canada, educational assessments revealed that Vitalik Buterin was gifted with intelligence. He was trained to harness his skills to the best of his capacity. However, being so intelligent came at a price. Vitalik found it difficult to blend in with his classmates and teachers. Academically, Vitalik was interested in subjects about Mathematics and programming. He also showed interest in economics.
Growing up with an almost obsolete social life, Vitalik focused on his interests. However, he confirms his desire to be like other people and have more interactions with them. Vitalik had the superior ability to add up numbers faster than anyone, making his peers regard him as a genius in math.
It was difficult for the young immigrant to get along with others in a new country where people became intimidated by his intelligence. This situation compelled him to focus on his passion which was learning more about the internet and computing.
Vitalik attended the Abelard School, a private academic institution in Toronto, where he spent more formative years during which Vitalik decided he enjoyed learning and sought more knowledge.
His obsession with the World of Warcraft game momentarily distracted him from school work. At some point, Vitalik discovered the game World of Warcraft, and he dedicated time to scoring record breaking points in the game. Vitalik was thirteen years old at the time, and in 2010, he lost all progress in the game to a glitch caused by a blizzard. Frustrated by the loss, Vitalik abandoned the WoW game.
In search of a new passion, Vitalik stumbled into the world of cryptocurrency. He first heard about Bitcoin from his father, who was also interested in software computing. However, his interest in Bitcoin didn’t happen until he discovered that the new alternative currency was not going to fade away. Vitalik was skeptical about cryptocurrency, believing that the government would not let the idea succeed. However, he discovered the decentralized nature of the Blockchain and other features that could keep Bitcoin in the market for many more years.
After spending time on different Bitcoin-focused forums online and gathering more information from other sources, Vitalik gained more understanding about the cryptocurrency concept and how it is linked to various aspects of our daily lifestyle. He saw potentials in the cryptocurrency industry.
Vitalik first attempted to buy some tokens, but he soon realized that it was possible to start mining Bitcoin. However, that idea crashed quickly after he found out that mining Bitcoin required massive computing power. To secure his first tokens, Vitalik found a job saved money, and bought Bitcoin. Soon, Vitalik was writing for a blog about cryptocurrency, and he received payment in Bitcoin. He claims the pay was five Bitcoin per article he submitted to the blog.
Vitalik adored his online audience, people who read his articles and followed his work on cryptocurrency forums, and he sought public opinion about cryptocurrency from different perspectives. His articles gained popularity, and in 2011, he co-founded a Bitcoin magazine with Mihai Alisie, a Romanian who also shared a passion for cryptocurrency.
Vitalik became the lead writer for the online magazine. He also kept a part-time job working as a research assistant under Ian Goldberg, a renowned cryptographer.
At this time, Vitalik was at the University of Waterloo, where he was taking five major courses.
Vitalik Buterin has his first experience among a crowd of cryptocurrency enthusiasts at a conference organized in San Jose, May 2013. Witnessing the number of people who were passionate about cryptocurrency, he decided that it was time to take the cryptocurrency dream seriously. Vitalik abandoned his academic career at the University, sold some Bitcoin, and embarked on a trip, traveling to meet people in different parts of the world. His goal was to strengthen his network and create something worthwhile.
Exploring foreign interests in cryptocurrency
Vitalik visited locations where people had different projects related to cryptocurrency. He recorded experiences in shops in New Hampshire, locations in Berlin and noticed how more entrepreneurs were willing to accept Bitcoin as payment. Vitalik was intrigued by a project he discovered during a visit to Israel in October 2013. The project was named ‘CovertCoins,’, and is focused on finding new ways to harness the power of Bitcoin. The activities related to this project included promoting financial transactions and offering tokens to people willing to experience how cryptocurrency works
Vitalik observed that the protocols for the project could be redefined to accommodate a much larger cryptocurrency concept. And he started exploring ways to include the Turing programing language to achieve his goal. All the Turing programing language requires to work was memory and time. He examined the idea and created proposals for the project. Few people considered the idea as worth an investment, but Vitalik was not discouraged.
In 2013, Vitalik Buterin wrote a white paper to describe the idea he had been developing for a long time. He shared this paper with few friends, and he received feedback from people who were willing to discuss it further. Many of the meetings went well, without criticisms. Vitalik was convinced he had discovered something big. This marked the discovery of a concept that birthed Ethereum.
The Ethereum logo
Over time, Vitalik and his team worked on developing his idea. They made more discoveries that with the inclusion of more lines of code, the initial idea could be enhanced to feature decentralized storage and a name registry. In January 2014, a clear path to completing the project had been formed, and it was publicly announced.
The project team members are Vitalik Buterin, Mihai Alisie, Anthony Di Iorio, Charles Hoskinson, Joe Lubin, and Gavin Wood. Vitalik Buterin traveled to a Bitcoin conference in Miami, where he presented his idea for Ethereum. And a crowd sale was organized after a few months. The goal was to raise capital to fund the project. Funding also came from a Thiel Fellowship grant to Vitalik worth $100,000.
The crowd sale concept was successful. The team offered investors ETH for BTC. In the end, they had raised over 31,000 BTC, which was worth $18 million. Unfortunately, the BTC price crashed, and the team suffered financial loss. But there was enough money to continue the Ethereum project under the Ethereum Foundation, which is registered as a non-profit organization located in Switzerland.
Before its launch, the team tested Ethereum to ensure it was bug-free. They offered 25,000 ETH to whoever could find bugs in the system. Other prototypes were tested to clear any doubts about the coin. The team also listened to different criticisms and made amendments where necessary. The drive to raise capital for the project was successful, even with its challenges. The fundraising event caught the attention of major financial journals in the US.
On July 30, 2015, the world woke up to hear that the team had released the ‘Frontier’ it was the first public version of Ethereum. The test release featured a single command line of code in the ‘bare bones’ format. The developers used the ‘Frontier’ to study the environment by launching different decentralized apps. After completing successful tests, the developers migrated the Frontier to the ‘Homestead Version’ on March 14, 2016. The event marked the next generation of cryptocurrency to use Blockchain technology. Several projects started in the background to improve Ethereum and consolidate its position in the crypto market.
The Ethereum success was too big to ignore. Brands such as Microsoft and IBM already approached Vitalik to request partnerships, and the value had risen to 5,100 while BTC was 6000 at that time. Vitalik focused on the next project called the ‘Metropolis.’ It was a two-part project. The first part themed ‘Byzantium’ was developed to make the network seamless, faster, and more secure. The second part, called ‘Serenity,’ targeted completing the project.
The DAO hack
Vitalik focused on his idea to make Ethereum stand out. He ensured the platform could accommodate DAO, which is an acronym for Decentralized Autonomous Organizations. DAOs are used to hold digital assets, which can be used based on rules defined by the developer. The rules are authenticated via smart contracts, which allow investors to purchase tokens to become a part of the DAO membership group. All its members supervise the function of DAO, and decisions are made by voting. The first DAO to be launched is Bitcoin followed by Ethereum which has hosted a number of DAOs since then.
On June 17, 2016, it was reported that the DAO had been hacked, and the hacker had started transferring money from the system. The stolen funds were transferred into a replica of the DAO; the hacker was not from the Ethereum network. ETH worth over $50 million was lost during the attack, and this caused the value of ETH to drop from $20 to a little under $13.
The team stopped the online heist, and the remaining funds were migrated to a new smart contract. Vitalik and his team needed to work fast. They proposed to create a soft fork as an intervention method. The fork refers to a reset button on the decentralized network. The stakeholders could not agree to use a soft fork to reset Ethereum, and they split. Vitalik could not make a decision because it was the ETH community’s responsibility.
The ETH community decided to introduce a hard fork which meant a new version of Ethereum would be created to feature reviewed rules. The miners and exchanges could choose whether they wanted to migrate to the new platform or stay with the old ETH network. The hard work was done on July 20, 2016. The new ETH network was called the Ethereum Classic. It has a similar Blockchain with the old ETH network. However, at block 1920000, there is a difference marking the refund made to investors who lost their funds to the hacker.
This event marked one of the most turbulent times Vitalik experienced as the core member of the team behind Ethereum.
Vitalik Buterin’s interest in media
Vitalik Buterin co-founded the Bitcoin Magazine, where he was the lead writer. The project was online, and articles were sold for BTC to ensure the magazine survived. In 2012, the Bitcoin Magazine was printed into hard copies, and it became the first printed publication dedicated to cryptocurrencies. The copies were mailed to subscribers in different parts of the world and sold in notable bookshops. The Bitcoin magazine still exists; it is managed by the BTC media.
Vitalik was also affiliated with Ledger, the name of a peer-reviewed scholarly journal. The content from Ledger was published by the University of Pittsburg’s University Library system. The published works covered topics such as cryptocurrency, Blockchain, and technology related to alternative currencies.
Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA)
Thirty members from Fortune 500 companies, universities, Blockchain startups, and the tech industry came together to form the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance in March 2017. Currently, there are more than 150 members. The group has attracted big brands such as Cisco Systems, Samsung, MasterCard, Intel, and many more.
Enterprise Ethereum Alliance logo
The EEA was formed to establish a platform that connects the experts on ETH to its members with the aim of educating them about the ways ETH can be leveraged to grow businesses. The members are educated about the high-capacity applications that can be supported by the network, as well as software for business advancement, opportunities in sectors such as entertainment and technology, to mention a few.
Vitalik Buterin visits China
Many businesses in China have embraced ETH, even though the Chinese government has taken a hard position against cryptocurrency and the Blockchain. Vitalik learned how to communicate in the Chinese language to foster a good relationship with the government and Chinese entrepreneurs. In China, the Peking University has launched its Ethereum lab to develop more opportunities to leverage the network in view of improving supply chains and the energy industry. Other significant brands and establishments in China exploring how they can benefit from the Ethereum network include the Royal Chinese Mint and members of the EEA. They plan to develop ways through which the Chinese Yuan can be digitized.
There are still challenges in introducing cryptocurrency in China, with many crackdowns happening and instructions to Chinese banks to stop crypto transactions. However, the stakeholders have been able to admit that ETH could potentially be used in the country’s interest.
Vitalik Buterin explores opportunities in Russia
The Russian government has remained quite apprehensive about ideas related to cryptocurrency because they do not want to believe in a decentralized network. The Russians would have preferred a concept they can control. However, Russia has shown its respect for Vitalik’s achievements.
Vitalik has revealed in media briefings that Moscow is currently hosting one of the largest clusters of nodes linked to the ETH network. He also confirms that Russian President Vladimir Putin has heard about the Blockchain. During his meeting with the president, Vitalik explained how Ethereum could be used in the county’s interests, his points caught the president’s attention. Russia is interested in exploring ways to leverage the Blockchain to develop better platforms to track goods, personal identification, and protecting the owners of digital property.
The country has awakened to the significant achievements that could happen with the Ethereum network. The Russian Sberbank, is a part of the EEA, and the bank has participated in deals that leveraged smart contracts on the ETH network. Also, in August, 2017, Vitalik Buterin completed an agreement with Vladislav Martynov, the CEO of Yota Services, a company in the mobile communications sector, to create a new version of Ethereum for Russia. More companies have indicated interest in partnering with Vitalik and his team to help their businesses grow.
There was a fake rumor that Vitalik Buterin died in a car accident. This happened on June 25, 2017. The rumor had such a huge impact on the market, and ETH lost a market value of $4 billion. It was devastating, and the source of the rumor was traced to an online forum for trolls. The event confirmed that Vitalik’s presence was essential for Ethereum to survive. And it also pointed out the reason why the developers who created Bitcoin have decided to remain anonymous.
Vitalik has been sighted in many parts of the world. He is exploring more opportunities for ETH. He spent months in Singapore perfecting his project. Vitalik has made it known that he hopes to have a team that can run the network effectively, allowing him to study other potential projects. He expresses excitement at the fact that there are so many investors out there interested in buying and holding ETH. Vitalik Buterin has come a long way, overcome different challenges, and succeeded in establishing one of the top cryptocurrency networks in the world. He has faith in Ethereum and believes that the next updates for the network will improve stability, safety, cost-effectiveness, and scalability for all types of businesses.
Vitalik Buterin has achieved a long list of awards which include;
- Thiel Fellowship Award, 2014
- World Technology Award in the IT Software Category, 2014
- Fortune 40 under 40 list
- Forbes 30 under 30 list